WordPlay students to serve as delegates to the International Congress of Youth Voices in Puerto Rico

CINCINNATI - WordPlay Cincy is proud to announce that its longest-term student, Lilly Gieseke, 18, leaves Wednesday, Aug. 7, to attend the second annual International Congress of Youth Voices in Puerto Rico. Lilly, along with two other WordPlay students and two WordPlay chaperones, will join other young writers and activists as well as more established writers, activists and elected officials from around the world to discuss global economic development, human rights and social activism, with a special focus on politics in Puerto Rico.

“I am excited to meet people as passionate about the change happening and improving the world as I am,” said Gieseke, who lives in Hyde Park.

A participant of WordPlay’s Scribes program, Gieseke began writing seriously when she entered 7th grade at the Summit Country Day School. As a sophomore in high school she began to perform and share her writing with others to raise awareness about mental illness and women’s rights. She believes she can use her ability to play with words to capture her audience using humor and wit.

“Lilly first came to WordPlay nearly seven years ago for our inaugural spoken word workshop and has been attending our teen workshops ever since," WordPlay Executive Director Libby Hunter said. "To see the connections she and her family have built at WordPlay with her peers and with our staff, and to be able to now extend this opportunity to her as she’s graduating high school, is a wonderful culmination of her time with us as a student.”

Now in its second year, the International Congress of Youth Voices runs Aug. 7-10, 2019 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Congress will unite 150 students, mostly between the ages of 16 and 20, from countries all over the world, including: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Nepal, Palestine, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand and the United States.

WordPlay Community Engagement Coordinator Desirae Hoseley and WordPlay Teaching Artist Jori An Cotton will serve as chaperones during the Congress. It will be the first trip to Puerto Rico for the well-known spoken word artists and educators. “I’m really looking forward to the all-day service project in Old San Juan and having open conversations about the political movements and protests that are reshaping the island,” Hoseley said.

WordPlay graduates Azaria Pittman-Carter and Daphne Constantinides return to ICYV as student delegates; they were chosen based on their commitment to leadership and social justice and their passion and eloquence as writers. All three WordPlay delegates will attend at no cost.

“We at WordPlay view the ICYV as a sort of ‘rite of passage’ for our young writers, for them to come back and lead our programs one day,” Hunter said. “I know our youth will create some extraordinary connections there, with peers from around the world. I can’t wait to hear their stories from the experience.”

To help provide experiences like the ICYV to more young people through WordPlay, make a donation at www.wordplaycincy.org/donate. For more information on ICYV, please visit www.internationalcongressofyouthvoices.com.

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