77 pages • 2 hours readErin Gruwell and Freedom Writers
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Ms. Gruwell spends her summer teaching education classes at National University and working at the Marriott on the weekends to save money to visit Zlata and Miep in Europe. On her trip, she stops first in Amsterdam to visit Miep, where they spent time reminiscing about Miep’s relationship with Anne Frank. Then she flies to Dublin to visit Zlata and her parents. Zlata and her family had just been to the Croatian coast for the first time since they left Bosnia in 1993.
After visiting Zlata, Ms. Gruwell tours London and then travels to Paris to meet Zlata’s cousin, Melika. She collects books and souvenirs from the trip for her students throughout her travels. She reflects that her trip will help her bring world literature to life for her students, and that she will have to start thinking of ways to bring American literature to life, too.
As junior year begins, the students are studying American authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Thoreau and learning about self-reliance and the principles of nonconformism. One student reflects that she has often felt misunderstood, but now she thinks maybe that’s not so bad. She writes: “Now it’s time for me to learn to hold my ground and be self-reliant” (116).