Robert Mark: Grade 8
“Eight years old I arrived,
In front of this cluster of stone buildings
Ready to thrive
Feeling so alive
Not knowing that this place would be my fight to survive…”
Imagine the beat of Lil Wayne rapping in Eminem’s “No Love” to these words, and you will capture the essence of how Aija Mayrock captivated the audience in ten minutes with the rhythm and her story.
On February 3, 2016, Aija Mayrock, author of The Survival Guide to Bullying, visited Buckley. Mayrock is a 19-year-old student at New York University. At first, she self-published her book. It quickly attracted readers, however, and Scholastic Press offered to publish her book, helping her realize one of her dreams.
Mayrock related the history of how she was bullied as a student through an original “roem” (rap poem). She shared how she tried to handle the bullying as a child:
“At ten I tried to fit in
knowing that it had been hell
I felt like I was trapped in a cell
So I dressed the same
To fit into their game
But my soul had a name
And it wasn’t the same
As the other players in the game…”
Mayrock thought she had escaped the bullies when her family moved from the east coast to the west coast, but that was not the case. The Internet had bred a new form of bullying:
“At fifteen I felt free as can be
From my bullies
But on Halloween
A monster cyberstalked
And bullied me
I knew I couldn’t flee…”
Fortunately, Mayrock found an outlet through writing and discovered her mission to help all bullied victims “survive”:
I feel like I have tamed the voices
I know my name
And my path in this game…”
Following the “roem,” Dr. Juhel read questions that students and parents had previously emailed to him. Mayrock eloquently answered each one with sage advice. She explained how to distinguish bullying from someone just being mean or rude because they are having a bad day – bullying exists when it happens repeatedly. She disclosed how a bystander saying or doing something could diffuse the bullying. Most importantly, Mayrock revealed that bullying has nothing to do with anything being “wrong” with the victim. The victim should persist in asking for help and not keep the incidents to themselves.
At the conclusion, all families received a copy of Mayrock’s book. She stayed to autograph the books and answer more questions face-to-face. Mayrock provided a message of hope and a message to be kind and, above all, an inspiring evening.