By Himself
I remember a time when I was at school and there were three of us. We were walking around the school and we saw this boy sitting down by himself in the hot sun playing with him thumbs. I told my friends, lets go talk to that boy and then we walked right up to him. We asked his name and we told him our names. He told us he had just come from another middle school.

But then we asked him if he wanted to walk around with us and he said, “Naw I’m cool,” so we said okay. But then he stopped us and he asked one of my friends to stay with him and she did. Later on that day, she told me he was into her and asked if she was into him but they never got together because he got expelled and moved to Mexico! Weird huh!
-Meme, 16


They Never Invite Me
I have felt excluded by my friends before. I try to include some of my friends to do things with me, but usually they never invite me to do things with them. I usually don’t care about what they do because I always have something else to do.
-Mongsai, 18


Finding The Right Friends
I felt excluded when I transferred from elementary to middle school. I didn’t know anyone. I was a lonely person until some guys talked to me and asked about the school I came from. So I told them, and I started to hang out with them. After a few months, I wanted to depart from them because they were bad guys. So I started to hang out with other guys, who were Mexican. But then I realized they were bad guys as well. So I started to hang out with the Hmong guys. I fit in better because they wanted to be my friends as well. That’s how I became close friends with them. After that, I no longer felt excluded.
-Luis, 17


Back when I was in school, I would always see this girl sitting alone, She would usually be reading a book, or writing something. “How pretty…” I would think when I saw her. She wasn’t there every single day, so I started to get concerned. One day, a few of my friends and I approached her. I think she was drawing… or reading… I don’t quite remember. We all said. “Hey, what’s up?” she said, “Nothing…” Something about her made us want to be her friend.

We asked her name… she didn’t answer, so we called her “Happy Tree” (she was wearing a Bob Ross shirt). I’m not sure how, but we became friends. I learned that she had a big family and that she was bipolar. I couldn’t tell. The more I wanted to hang out with her, the less I saw of her. I was told that her medication made her sleepy so she couldn’t stay awake in school. Time passed, and we’re still friends. Oh yeah, her name is Crystal. She’s so awesome!
-Jaleesa, 20


When I see anyone alone I talk to that person cause I would never like to be left out. I make sure everyone is included as much as I can. I make sure that I’m not left out if I am or when it starts to happen I say something to get people and my friends to look at me or laugh.

I remember one time my friends were talking about something I didn’t watch on TV so I just waited for it to get quiet and screamed out CHEESECAKE! It was my word of the day. I say a word over and over all day and most of my friends I love cheesecake. After that I added more words and change things around for people so they don’t get tired of me and at the same time I’m a wild and crazy person so how can anyone get tired of me?
-“Omar”, 19


Another Cinderella Story
Once upon a time there was a girl named Marinella. She was always excluded by her family. Her family would ignore her because she was different. She didn’t do the things that were considered “normal” to her family. Even her younger cousins didn’t respect her. Her cousins would be two faced and ignore her when the adults were around, but when the adults weren’t around they would tell Marinella that she was cool.

The adults would always compare her to people in church. Marinella didn’t understand why she couldn’t just be herself. The adults also were religious. So why would they disown her just because she was different, she didn’t understand.

Yes, Marinella is me. I often tried to fit in but something told me that was wrong. I wasn’t being myself and I believed I was different for a purpose. I no longer cared about what others thought of me because I am free to be who I really am knowing that other people like me for me.
-Maria, 15


My Cousins
Yes, I’ve felt excluded a lot of the time. However, just recently when Dasen and I got married, my cousins told me straight out that they wouldn’t be calling me to hang out anymore. I told them to keep calling me, cause we won’t be seeing each other as much anymore. But they said they don’t care, because I’m getting married. So I’m not “single” anymore. I told them I didn’t care then, if they wanted to be like that then I’d rather not hear from them. But deep inside, I felt very sad. They rejected me.

The other day it was Dasen’s 19th birthday and I invited them to come, and they came. But before they left, I told them to call me whenever they go swimming. I believe that although they excluded me from our childhood group, I’ll still be there for them no matter what! Believe it!
-Suzanna, 18


Group Work
I hate working in groups where people exclude me. They think that they can do all the fun and easy part and leave me the hard stuff. I remember back in my sophomore year, we worked in smaller groups and people read their poems. I was amazed by all of their beautiful rhymes and broad vocabulary.

When it came to my turn to share my piece, they smiled but I didn’t get many compliments back. I felt excluded! Was it my poem? Was it the way I looked or how I recited my poem? I didn’t get it. Now everyone in the class figured out my poetry level was very low. Those people discouraged me from writing poetry. What’s the point? I thought to myself. From that moment on, the people in my group began to think that I was just another dumb dirty no good Asian guy.
-Dasen, 19


Trying To Make Friends
For half a year I felt like I was really excluded. Back in 2006, my aunt convinced me to Hmong dance. I began to Hmong dance during summer. The only people I knew there were my two cousins. I was really nervous about meeting new people because I feel like I’m a socially awkward person. Most of the dancers were related and all knew each other.

So basically, I felt pretty excluded. Week after week I tried talking to the girls who were teaching everyone else, but they just kind of shut me out. After I stopped Hmong dancing I realized I don’t need to be everybody’s friend and if people want to be friends, they’ll talk back.
-Gabby, 17

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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