Junior and foreign exchange student Cecilia Olmedilla finds her voice

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Andria Benmuvhar

Junior Cecilia “Sisi” Olmedilla takes the stage at the Poetry Out Loud competition. Olmedilla selected “I am Offering This Poem” by Jimmy Santiago Baca from the website and related it to her grandfather. “This poem was about offering your honest and humble love. So I decided to think about him and dedicate the words to him,” Olmedilla said.

After seeing a poster for the Poetry Out Loud competition in her English teacher’s classroom, junior and foreign exchange student Cecilia Olmedilla entered and won the schoolwide competition last December. Performing “I am Offering This Poem” by Jimmy Santiago Baca. 

“I thought it would be an interesting experience because when I was 12 years old, I performed some poems in my school for a project. I really loved it,” Olmedilla said, “I thought doing it in another language would be challenging and exciting.”

Poetry Out Loud was Olmedilla’s first time competing in anything. As a reward for their efforts, Olmedilla and the other nine competitors received flowers and poetry books with a small dedication from the author inside.

“[Winning the competition] made me feel really good. It was a great experience, and especially since I’m from Spain, coming here and winning something was exciting,” Olmedilla said. 

Although it was her first time reciting poetry, it wasn’t her first time on stage. Having previous acting experience helped her with her stage presence. 

“I learned the importance of purposefully using specific gestures. It has also made me aware of how knowing your space can benefit your performance,” Olmedilla said.

[Reading poetry] makes me be in contact with feelings of hopefulness, love, sadness, happiness and bravery. It reminds me of the beauty of words and is a simple reminder of the fragility of life.”

— Cecilia Olmedilla

When performing in front of a large audience, Olmedilla finds ease in connecting to poetry personally. 

“It is a very special and complex feeling; it makes me feel that the noise of existence ceases, and the only thing left is the sound of poetry and hope,” Olmedilla said. “[Reading poetry] makes me be in contact with feelings of hopefulness, love, sadness, happiness and bravery. It reminds me of the beauty of words and is a simple reminder of the fragility of life,” Olmedilla said.