Building on two years of successful collaborations between first-gen students at Cal State LA and partner institutions in Canada and England, in the Spring of 2023, the Cal State LA English Department sponsored its third international first-gen writing workshop. Over the course of two weeks, workshop participants from Cal State LA, East L.A. College, and Durham University engaged in the study of first-gen experiences and identities and explored strategies for representing their higher education journeys. In addition to considering the challenges they may have encountered on the path to a college degree, students were prompted to reflect on the experiences, events, relationships, and practices that have sustained, nurtured, and empowered them over the years. With these stories, and their focus on the joy first-gen students create for themselves and within their communities, the writers in this volume push back against toxic phenomena that have come to be associated with the first-gen identity, including “grind” or “hustle” culture, survivor’s guilt, and imposterism, which so often lead to first-gen students feeling an extreme sense of time poverty, overwhelm, and eventual burnout. This cross-Atlantic collaboration aims to contribute a fuller narrative of first-gen experience and inspire readers to explore the positive, motivating forces driving their own dreams.
Text & Type extends a special thank you to Cal State LA graduate student and alumni workshop facilitators, Emily Aguilar, Tatiana Giron, and Taylor Marty, for their dedicated work with the student writers featured in this issue. We also thank Durham University for their continued support of this collaboration, especially First Generation Scholars Network mentors, Dr. Vikki Boliver, Dr. Michelle Addison, and Dr. Jonathan Drury.