Sereena Hoso is a fearless young reporter at the age of 12. She's a sixth grader at Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach and needed an "elder" to interview for a time-honored tradition at her school. I got the call as her granny lives in Los Angeles and wasn't readily available for the interview and the project. We are now best friends, and if I truly ever need a biographer, she'll be my choice.
Smart, funny, articulate and beautiful, we had several in person sessions as well as a few on the telephone and via email. The culmination project was in the school's gym. I had expected an intimate, lunch hour event with several of her classmates as they shared information they had learned about their interviewee.
I was shocked to enter the gym, along with about 600 other people (parents, kids, teachers and those who were the topic of the biographies) amidst long tables decorated with flowers and walls filled with posters filled with photographs and other memorabilia about our lives.
Each student gave a quick overview of their interviewee, thanked their parents for their support and then asked us each to rise to be acknowledged. I later learned that they held this luncheon four times to allow every sixth grader the chance to be "on stage." It was an astonishing feat of coordination, timing and what must have been exhausting work on the part of the staff at Thurston.
Her lovely mother, younger sister and two adorable younger brothers, missed her speech. She was one of the first and her mom was trying to find parking which was a formidable task that day.
The questions were fairly typical for a biographer: "What was your childhood like?," "How was school different from now," "What were some of the most important moments that changed your life?"
It was a memorable experience for me as I shared stories about what had influenced major decisions in my life, how I had made career and lifestyle changes, the challenges of being a student, a mother, then a teacher and principal, and ultimately making a major career change at 40.
We discovered that we both loved dance, theatre, literature, the arts and writing. I hope to know her more as she grows up and pursues her dreams.
In her own words: "Sereena Mahmoud Mohammed Hoso was born in Long Beach, California on February 19, 2003. The spark that made Sereena love writing is she had the passion to make her stories shine. Her future plans or goals are to get into a great college and her doctors degree. When she was in 4th grade, she got an award of the class peacemaker (AKA The Dove). Sereena is an amazing author...and she is very happy about what she is doing."