YWP: Researching History With a Personal Bent

Age 15, Thetford
Monday, March 05, 2018

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit based in Burlington that engages middle and high school students from anywhere in the world to write, to express themselves with confidence and clarity, and to connect with authentic audiences. YWP publishes student writing every week in newspapers; through YWP’s website, youngwritersproject.org, and monthly digital magazine, The Voice; before live audiences; and with other media partners, including vtdigger.org and vpr.net. YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing.

This week’s prompt: History. Research historical events that happened on your birthday, or in your birth year. Write from the perspective of someone who experienced the event; and General writing.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands

Hello. My name is Eva Jansen. I live in the Netherlands and am now 19 years old. My grandmother passed away last year at the age of 83, but four years ago, in 1999, she had a stroke and fell into a coma. She was immediately rushed to the hospital and put on life support. To me, that was the day my grandmother died.

I have a distinct memory from when I was 12, when my grandmother was talking to me and my mother about a news story we had just heard. A very ill and elderly man had committed suicide. I did not understand why anyone would do this, so I asked my mother and grandmother.

My mom said, “Living a life in which you are confined by the limits of a hospital is hardly living. Imagine if you could barely walk, you visited the hospital a few times every week, and all of your friends and family were dead?”

This was a horrifying prospect to me. I responded, “That would be horrible.”

My grandmother added, “If I am being kept alive, but cannot live, I would rather die.” I hated when my grandmother discussed her own death. I knew it would happen eventually, but I wanted to believe she would live forever. I couldn’t see my strong, loving grandmother being reduced to a shriveled shell of a person.

For most of 1999 my grandmother lived on her own, but on October 4th, just as I was sitting down for dinner with my parents, my mom received a phone call. When she got off the phone she said, “Eva, I have bad news. Your grandmother…” She started to weep. My dad went to hold her, and as I joined them I started to cry as well. Finally, my mom finished what she had been trying to say, telling us about my grandmother’s stroke and coma. “She could recover,” my mom finished. But she wasn’t convincing herself, so she had no hope of convincing me, either.

My grandmother stayed on the edge of death, some days more stable and others worsening. I visited her weekly hoping that she would wake up and return to the grandmother I had known at 12 years old.

She never did.

On January 21, 2002, we received another phone call from the hospital, this time informing us that my grandmother was gone for good. It wasn’t until the next day my mom told me that she had requested that the doctor euthanize my grandmother, because my grandmother had signed a legal form requesting euthanasia if she was ever put on life support. This information sent a new tumult of emotions through me. Would she have recovered? She didn’t want to be on life support forever. Maybe she was already gone.

I blamed my mom that I had lost my grandmother for good that day, but then I realized that she must have gone through the same thought process as me. I realized that we should honor what my grandmother wanted over what we wanted, which my mom must have known when she made this decision. It was my grandmother’s life, after all.

The doctor who had euthanized my grandmother was not prosecuted, but it wasn’t until the spring that we realized he could have been. Voluntary euthanasia was deemed acceptable by the Supreme Court in 1984, but it wasn’t officially decriminalized until April of 2001. My mom wrote many letters to the Senate encouraging the bill to be passed, a final way of honoring the wishes of my grandmother. Since then my family and I have been advocating the legalization of voluntary euthanasia around the world.

Read the complete story at: youngwritersproject.org/node/21064.


In our daily lives, we are often afraid of what we do not know. Martin Luther King, Jr. faced the fear of death every day and still managed to live with it as he changed America's history. Now, it seems the whole country is afraid of one another because of our different looks, colors, and religions.

We must reteach ourselves that our different looks do not make us enemies, and that hatred is the worst tool in the world. Being afraid slowly leads to a hatred that cannot be stopped. Teaching love needs to start in homes, be reflected in what is taught in schools, and be reinforced within communities.

Our leaders are now afraid of what they do not understand, especially regarding immigrants and minorities. For the next three years and beyond, this fear is something we will have to address. When the time comes, we will vote them out of office. For now, however, we must use our First Amendment right to protest peacefully, and we cannot be fearful of the consequences. King taught us how to be ready for trouble at any moment, because you never know where it is coming from.

During these times especially, we must recognize that people who are different than us in some way still want the same things that we do – for themselves, their families, and their communities. Love must come from within the American people, because it won't come from anywhere else.

Read the complete story at: youngwritersproject.org/node/21004.

Broken Butterfly

My wings are torn, but still I fly.

My torn wings beat against the wind

as I struggle to soar again,

a silhouette against the sky.

Read the complete story at: youngwritersproject.org/node/20902.


What does it mean to be empty?

It means containing nothing, not filled or occupied.

Some empty things include: nothing.

Everything is always filled with something, right?

“What about space?” you ask.

Space is empty of everything —

that's why it's called space.

I must have the whole universe in my head, then,

because it always feels empty.

Completely void of anything,

except a few tiny scraps floating around,

insignificant compared to the amount of space they don't occupy.

I have a universe in my head,

swirling and expanding and completely deprived of anything important.

I get overwhelmed by all this space, sometimes.

The pressure builds and builds,

until I unleash my inner dam of thoughts and ideas

onto a piece of paper or a sheet of music.

My mind generates an abstruse concoction of ideas,

all crazy, insane, impossible, and just a little idiotic.

Do you have a universe in your mind?

Or is yours empty like they want you to believe?

Join me, and let's explore our galaxies together.

Read the complete story at youngwritersproject.org/node/20777.