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A journey off tangent: The story of UWCSEA East's first literary magazine

Carlotta Menozzi, published when a Grade 6 student, East Campus, Heidi Foster, Grade 7 student, East Campus and Khushi Raju, Grade 6 student, East Campus
UWCSEA East's Middle Schoolers put together the campus' first literary magazine.

A community of word lovers, that’s who we are—the team behind Off Tangent, the first Middle School literary magazine at East Campus. The whole experience of producing our first issue has been wonderful for our team. Imagine, the first day, everybody walking inside the room, scared and nervous. And then, slowly figuring out that everybody loved the same thing: writing.

Being in a community that loves reading and writing makes you feel at home. It’s almost as if we are united by one single, long piece of thread that runs through our hearts. Our love for words, the thread that binds us, is what makes us a family.

The first day of the activity, we were all shy and nervous as we stepped into Ms Paula [Guinto]’s comfortable and inspiring classroom. We had no idea how much work we had ahead of us or how big a project this was going to become. We first defined what a literary magazine was, and after the first few meetings filled with introductions and explanations, that is when the magic started.

Once we defined what our literary magazine was going to be, that helped us understand what we really wanted to become. We knew that we wanted art, wanted design, wanted something poetic. We wanted a literary magazine that was home to stories, opinions, creativity and voice. We had a unique task that had never been carried out at East Campus before; showcasing the writing and artistic talent of our Middle School.

Also, before starting the process of creating the magazine we had to understand what it meant to be trustworthy, respectful, loyal and have integrity. Our team had to be respectful of people’s work and make sure that people felt comfortable submitting and sharing their pieces. We valued all the art in the magazine and treated it with respect. Integrity was the key. Making the literary magazine was really magical, from being a stack of stories, to creating the most precious final product.

UWCSEA East's Middle Schoolers put together the campus' first literary magazine.

We then thought of our name, Off Tangent. We spent a lot of time picking a name. In fact, there were quite a few options floating around, and then, Ms Paula suddenly said “Off Tangent!” We all gave her a weird look not knowing what it meant. This is what she said “Off Tangent, you know, we are quirky and unique, not mainstream.” We all took a liking to it and agreed on it.

So Off Tangent it was. And is. Weeks and weeks of hard work were put into making the magazine. From creating submission forms for writing, photography and art, to reviewing the submissions and choosing pieces, to emailing writers, artists and photographers, creating a logo, designing a cover, finding a publisher and more. There were so many leadership opportunities where people got to step up and take on different challenges as Mr [Jabiz] Raisdana and Ms Paula had a lot of faith in us and let us do a lot of the decision making.

The financial side was difficult though. Part of our team was working on getting the money to make all of this possible including the launch party at the end. Getting the money was going to be hard, and we knew that. We were new and nobody knew how well we were going to go and what quantity we were going to sell. The Finance Team finally found the money and sent the magazine to the publisher. In less than two weeks we had our final product.

The day the magazine reached our hands was when we realised how much our hard work had paid off. It was a beautiful and proud moment for all who were part of the creation process from the authors to our team. We finally had physical proof of our work and that was way more than we could ask for.

To celebrate, we held a launch party so that we could share our work and joy with everyone else. We invited all the students involved and their families. We even asked the Green Gecko and Daraja GCs to sell food, and the Parents’ Association to sell beverages. The event was a huge success! Writers from our magazine read their stories and we had musicians there too! We sold almost all of the copies of our magazine and the few remaining were sold in the next week at school. The event was definitely a lot of work but was worth it! Every member of our team and anyone else who had been part of our journey was glowing with pride.

We definitely learnt about hard work and how it will pay off in the end. Like Vince Lombardi said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” In fact, we have found this to be completely true.

Visit the Off Tangent blog to enjoy the full content of the magazine online. 

Strive to belong, not fit in

An excerpt from the non-fiction essay

It’s a feeling that has plagued each one of us at some point in our lives—not fitting in … Feeling left out and not being able to fit in is a problem that all kids have faced at least once in their lifetime … A recent survey showed that 40% of teenagers felt pressured into trying to fit in with other kids at school. These days fitting in has become a top priority for many teenagers. Significant amounts of energy are put into trying to meet the expectations of someone other than themselves.

What does ‘fitting in’ even mean? Does it mean the same thing as belonging? Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection and research professor at the University of Houston says, “Fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging. Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely—it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are.” And so it becomes even more clear that to ask someone to fit in is to actually tell them to change something about themselves … Instead we should be focusing on encouraging teens to be themselves, stay true to their values and aim to belong rather than fit in …

Friendship plays an important role in a child’s development. Children learn many social skills from a young age and are able to build many connections …But healthy friendships don’t usually form from cliques … A clique is very exclusive, people are either ‘in’ or ‘out.’ … Rather than trying to fit into a clique we should be encouraging friendship groups. In a friendship group, members don’t have to be alike or share the same hobbies. They don’t have to constantly worry about being kicked out of the group for the way they act. In a friendship group kids can ‘belong.’ …

There is no instant solution to making good friends, but it’s important to know that you have to be patient. Work on bettering yourself, find a passion that you can focus on. Join a club or a sports team where you can form healthy friendships while staying true to yourself. It may be a long journey and there are going to be challenges along the way but when you find a friend that accepts you for who you are and what you believe in, that friendship is going to last, you will be happier, and you will feel like you belong.

… Now is the time for parents and other role models to play a bigger role in guiding teens towards building a sense of belonging … and to encourage strong friendship groups. It is important for young people to not lose their sense of self and personal values and be strong enough to not let society define their identity.


The view from my window is ever changing
The art of my life repainting
My heart beating at a different rhythm
Body breathing in a different pattern
Reflection shows a changed person
Adapting, adjusting, bearing burdens
Am I here, or is it someone unknown?
Am I veiled, hiding the human of old?

Changes are taking me to exquisite places
I am learning from experiences and changes
Making me cry or making me sing,
I am no longer the person I was before
Adjusting is the trait I once bore
Up, down, I’m spinning all around
Flying high, falling to the ground
I am alien to myself and others now.

The process is ending, now I am changed
I may differ, but I’m not strange
Now I am a dreamer who achieves
Now I am a believer who believes
No dual sides, just one human
Leaving shadows, turning towards the sun
Accept the modifications to life
For with changes, I will strive.

By Raniyah Basheer, Grade 6

By Caitlin Moor, Grade 8

  • East Campus
  • Holistic Learning Programme
  • Teaching and Learning