March 29, 2023
The 826 Boston team is full of talented, brilliant, creative, and compassionate people, and we think you should get to know them a bit better!
Meet two of our AmeriCorps service members this year, who have made a huge impact in our Writers’ Rooms: Mei Bailey (pictured left) and Colleen Martin (pictured right).
Mei (she/her) is a Boston newcomer and recent college graduate, where she studied sociology, anthropology, and writing. She is passionate about using creative writing and art as means for community organizing, empowerment, and advocacy. In her free time, she likes to crochet, play with cats, read queer fantasy books, and eat noodles with chili oil. Mei is the AmeriCorps High School Specialist at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School.
Colleen (she/her) is from Long Island, New York. She graduated from Boston College, where she studied communication, journalism, and film. Colleen worked as a local reporter in Maryland before moving back to Massachusetts for a service year with AmeriCorps at 826 Boston. She enjoys baking, walking, the ocean, and narrative non-fiction. Colleen is the AmeriCorps High School Specialist at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science.
What book do you recommend and why?
Mei: I recommend Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. It’s over 800 pages, but it’s over 800 pages of queer fantasy, amazing world-building, intertwined plots, political intrigue, and dragons! My favorite things. If you watched House of the Dragon and need something to fill the void, this might be it. If you’re disappointed by the lack of well-written, BIPOC queer rep in mainstream fantasy, this is definitely it.
Colleen: Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. It’s about a coffee shop in Tokyo where customers can go back in time. It’s funny at times and poignant at others, and it’s the kind of story you want to read in one sitting. Plus, it’s a series! That’s always a bonus for me.
What are you currently listening to?
Mei: I’m always listening to a mix of things and I love discovering new artists! Right now, my playlists include a lot of NoSo, Raveena, Sarah Kinsley, and TWICE.
Colleen: I’m currently listening to lofi beats in the Writers’ Room at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, though that’s not in my usual rotation. I often listen to movie soundtracks while working.
How did you decide you want to be an AmeriCorps member?
Mei: I applied for the AmeriCorps Fellowship at 826 Boston specifically because of the potential to work with young people doing creative things and telling stories! My favorite thing in the world is making things in community with others, whether it be spoken word, visual art, podcasts, or short stories. This Fellowship seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more about facilitating those kinds of artistic spaces.
Colleen: I wanted to work somewhere that had values aligning with my own, that would share my love of writing while keeping the focus person-centered. 826 Boston was a perfect fit.
What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
Mei: The first “novel” that I wrote as a little kid was called Hamu Hamu Kingdom. It was a 30-page word document about a world inhabited by “hamu hamus,” small mythical beings that were a cross between hamsters, mice, and guinea pigs. There were also dragons in this kingdom that were basically giant flying buses for the hamu-hamus. During show-and-tell, I read part of this story out loud to my third-grade class, but I’m not sure they liked it very much.
Colleen: My first job was in the unicycle department of a summer camp, but I can’t unicycle.
Can you tell us about a time when the AmeriCorps program made you feel truly rewarded?
Mei: I remember a time when a student came into the Writers’ Room at the Burke and showed me a chapter book they had been working on for over a year. We ended up talking about their story for 45 minutes. I felt so honored and touched that they trusted me enough to share something that was so close to their heart. Moments like these are the reason why I wanted to serve at 826 Boston!
Colleen: The O’Bryant started a newspaper this school year, which is something I’m really excited about. Student editors were elected [last semester], and during their first meeting, they were clearly thrilled with their new positions. Seeing them decide on the first draft deadlines and try to contain their smiles when addressing the rest of the students was really cool to see.
How do you like to enjoy your weekends?
Mei: I love trying out new recipes that I find on Instagram, buying new yarn to feed my crocheting addiction, editing videos, and hanging out with my roommate’s cats, Machu and Picchu. I probably need to go outside more.
Colleen: I enjoy hiking, long walks, and baking. I also like to sit with my cat and a good book. If it’s warm out, I’m at the beach.