One Earth Writing Teaches Teens How Storytelling Can Bridge Cultural Gaps

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Kids love to tell stories. What’s terrific is their storytelling can build bridges across communities, neighborhoods, nationalities, religions, socioeconomic status and more.

That’s the goal of One Earth Writing, a nonprofit that connects student writers in grades 7 through 12 from different races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds through its application-only Ambassador writing program.

As they sit down and write stories that share details of their lives – loves, disappointments, sports, food, whatever – they find out how similar they are to the people across the table and friendships grow.

That is indeed the power of the pen and the written word.

“Through One Earth Writing, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Jains, find their similarities, African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Caucasians, wealthy and poor, urban and rural,” the website says. “Regardless of where we begin, we can come to a place of understanding.

One Earth Writing will celebrate its first graduating class of Ambassadors on Wednesday, May 10 at the Maple Theater at 6:30 p.m. The program includes a screening of the film Freedom Writers followed by a Q&A discussion by husband-wife journalist team Brian Dickerson, a columnist at the Detroit Free Press, and Laura Berman, formerly a columnist at the Detroit News.

Current Ambassadors include:

  • Neely Allen, 8th grader at Berkshire Middle School
  • Anna Cervantes-Mayville, 8th grader at Millennium Middle School
  • Ashleigh Garrison, senior at International Academy East
  • Chloe Halprin, junior at Berkley High School
  • Sohil Jain, junior at International Academy East
  • Shikha Lakhani, junior at International Academy East
  • Jillian Lesson, 8th grader at West Hills Middle School
  • Jasmein Minhas, junior at International Academy East.

As someone who loves literature and connecting with other cultures, the One Earth Writing Ambassadors program has been like no other,” says Ashleigh Garrison, a Detroit resident and graduating senior.

“I would recommend this program to anyone who is passionate about writing and willing to open themselves up to others’ mindsets, cultures and more. Whether you’ve been writing since adolescence or it’s something you are just getting into, apply. No matter your experience level, you’ll gain a lot of knowledge from the program. If you’re looking for a safe, judge-free environment (with great food, too), then this is the program for you.”

Tickets are $25 (includes popcorn and a beverage) or $100 for 20 VIP seats, which comes with website and event recognition. The event is sponsored by Zingerman’s.

Please click here for tickets.

Part of the funds raised at this event will go to build a scholarship fund for One Earth Writing’s Ambassadors program, which is taking on some of today’s big issues.

As part of the Ambassador program, 9th-12th grade students at International Academy East recently wrote letters to Syrian refugees living locally, welcoming them here, and sharing with them their perspective about what it means to them to be American, and what they hope it will mean to them. Here are two of those letters.

“One Earth Writing uses writing workshops as a way to connect teens from different races, faiths and socioeconomic origins, and we’re seeing a huge need for this in our current political climate,” says Founder/CEO Lynne Golodner. “It’s exciting to have so much support and interest in programs that build a better tomorrow by empowering our future leaders with the understanding that we are all more similar than we realized.”

Golodner is the author of The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breads as well as seven other books and thousands of magazine articles. She is chief creative officer of Your People LLC public relations firm and has taught writing for more than 20 years. She blogs at

One Earth Writing is currently accepting applications for its next Ambassadors program, which runs July 10-20. To apply, click here. The program takes place at Christ Church Cranbrook, 470 Church Road in Bloomfield Hills.

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