The following articles are reprinted from the Titan Tribune, a newspaper written by students from the Miami Youth Academy, which is a commitment facility for teenage boys. The newspaper is part of a journalism class run by Exchange for Change, a Miami nonprofit that teaches writing skills at MYA and adult correctional facilities. Photos are blurred for purposes of the participants of the program.
X. S. and K. C.
Titan Tribune Staff Writers
Nine students at MYA are involved in an exchange class with University of Miami criminology students.
When we arrived at the campus for the first session, it seemed a little bit awkward because we were all wearing the same uniform. This stood out to the UM students.
At the start of the class, we paired up with our partners. We started to get to know each other so we could build a relationship over the semester. The UM students were interesting because they managed to choose a different path in life to benefit themselves.
We did have something in common with some of them. For example, some students were also involved with the juvenile justice system as kids. But they learned their lesson and changed to become better in life.
Now, they and the students who were not involved in the justice system have a lot going for themselves. For example, some of them play football or soccer. All are there to further their education.
We learned that if you want something, you have to work hard to get it. One of our partners said she strived to do well in school, which wasn’t easy. But she kept going. Now she is in college, driving a nice car and playing soccer. Other UM partners said they have to keep working hard to play football.
During our second class, we talked about juvenile delinquency. We explained how a lot of teenagers can end up making the wrong choices, which then lead them into the justice system.
We had a good conversation about how peer pressure can lead to trouble because students don’t want to look bad in front of friends or gang members.
Overall, we found the UM students caring and open to hearing our stories. They were very polite.
Also, we had a good time getting out of our facility and doing something productive.
By J. B.
Titan Tribune Staff Writer
On the way to our first University of Miami exchange class, I felt excited but nervous.
How are the UM students going to look at me? What are they going to think?
As I walked through the doors at the university, I saw some students stop and stare curiously, wondering where we came from.
As we went inside the classroom, the students stared as we sat down. After we got our groups sorted out, the first question was, “What did you do to enter the (MYA) program”?
I felt subconscious when they asked that question. But as we progressed, the conversation got better. They spoke about how college is and how much fun it can be.
They also spoke about how the dorm was set up, with a television and their own bathroom. That is way different than our dorm at MYA. We have a small room with no bathroom or television in it.
The three college students in our group came from different places: Orlando, New Jersey, and Tennessee. Two of the girls explained how Miami is so much better than where they’re from because of the beaches, people and summer parties.
After we left the session, we had to do a written assignment about the reasons for us ending up in the juvenile justice system. I talked about peer pressure. When we discussed the issue in the next class, the UM students gave me some good advice about staying away from negative peers. I started to feel really comfortable with them.
We talked a lot about how peer pressure can contribute to juvenile delinquency. I told them that some kids in the neighborhood can commit a crime and not get caught. So that leads other kids to think those behaviors are OK. MYA student A. D. discusses college life with the UM students in his class.
One UM student said this could lead to crime becoming more normalized in a neighborhood