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College of the Desert is hosting a Celebration of Student Writing event featuring keynote speaker Patricia Santana, author of Motorcycle on the Sea of Tranquility on Thursday, March 1, 2012, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event will be held at the college’s Mecca/Thermal campus located at 61-120 Buchanan Street in Mecca, near the 86 Expressway and Avenue 62.
Santana’s novel depicts the struggle of a young man returning from Vietnam in the sixties. She will discuss growing up in a low-income Latino household in South San Diego and learning how to transfer her emotion to the page.
The event will also feature Chicana writer and poet Maria Elena Ramirez who will perform her theater piece “Her-Story,” in which she shares 500 years of historical perspective from the point of view of the poor, the oppressed, and the disenfranchised migrant workers in this country.
A Coachella Valley High School graduate and now screenwriter, Jaime Soria, will share a clip from his movie “Waterberry Tears.” He will discuss his journey to convert his experience to the screen. He writes of growing up gay in a Latino family.
As writing instructor, Jay Lewenstein said, “Students need a place where their conversation, debate and learning can be displayed. This year many Mecca/Thermal students will publish their best writing in a new literary journal titled The Mad Poet. They’ve written about life in the Coachella Valley. They reflect upon economic struggle, family conflict, cultural identity, and the American Dream. The Mad Poet not only offers these students the opportunity to engage in their classrooms, but provides them a voice in their community. At the Celebration of Student Writing, all those in attendance will have the opportunity to engage with students. Their work will be on display front and center. 
Also on hand will be college and community representatives with informational booths and tables. Students and attendees will have the opportunity to rotate among the tables and make important contacts. Among the participants will be clubs and organizations such as Alas Con Futuro, The Carreon Foundation, COD Veterans Services, Oasis Community Services, and more.
In honor of Santana’s novel, The Celebration of Student Writing will include a 1960s theme of Peace, Love and Mad Poets. All attendees and participants are encouraged to dress in their grooviest garb. There will be food, drink, and lots of music.  Think of the event as if it’s the Age of Aquarius and “let the sun shine in” on the work of our accomplished students.