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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

The gift of storytelling and the power of words

 La lengua no tiene hueso, pero corta lo más grueso

 

By DANIELA DULA MEJIA — features@theaggie.org

 

When I was younger, my mom would tell me cuentos (fairy tales) to help me fall asleep. My family is from Honduras in Central America, and my mom’s stories always centered around our homeland. 

It felt like I was being transported to another world when she told me her stories. I loved to hear them growing up because they made me feel connected to my culture and my family. 

When I transferred from community college to UC Davis in 2020, I did not expect that I would become a storyteller myself. In all honesty, I aspired to be a lawyer, a professional truth seeker, not a writer. 

During what I thought would be my last quarter at Davis, I took an American political thought class as part of my major coursework. I was also questioning what I wanted to do with my life after college and if law school was my path. In that class, we read works from historical figures all throughout American history, but most importantly, we read from contemporary author James Baldwin. 

Baldwin was a Black gay author from the civil rights era. He had this way of writing that transported me into his world and made me see things through his lens, just like my mom’s stories did when I was a kid. I was so inspired by his style of writing. 

Reading Baldwin’s work made me realize that writing was something I wanted to do. I didn’t know how I was going to start writing or even what I would write, but I decided that I was going to stay another year to figure it out. 

A year after taking that class, I am just starting to figure it out. Working at The California Aggie has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at Davis. I realize that I am not super great about keeping up with deadlines (sorry Levi for being chronically late), but with each article, I get a little bit better. I learned through a lot of trial and error the best and worst ways to do an interview. Most importantly, I was given an opportunity to do something that I love, which is storytelling. 

In many ways, journalism is a form of truth seeking. We have a moral obligation to report facts, but also to tell a story. 

My mom and James Baldwin might not have a lot in common, but they both inspired me to also take my readers on a literary journey. Just as they connected me to their worlds through their stories, I have had the honor to do the same for readers in Davis. 

The stories I have been able to report on have been life-changing experiences. I had the chance to meet civil rights activists like Bobby Seale and report on anti-fascism in Davis (in the face of actual fascists) and the mental health crisis occurring throughout the UC system.

While my time is coming to an end at UC Davis, I leave with a sense of fulfillment that I would not have otherwise had if I did not work at The Aggie. Thank you to the Davis community for your kindness and support these past years and for sharing your stories with me.

 

Daniela Dula Mejia joined the features desk as a staff writer in February 2023. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science — public service. 

 

Written by: Daniela Dula Mejia — features@theaggie.org