In The Freedom Writers Diary, how do the students change over the span of four years?

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The students began their journey divided. Guarded by pain and preconceived notions, they could not readily see the pain in those from different backgrounds. Over the span of four years, they gradually became united through interpersonal growth, empathy, and the realization that all people are merely human, often suffering in...

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The students began their journey divided. Guarded by pain and preconceived notions, they could not readily see the pain in those from different backgrounds. Over the span of four years, they gradually became united through interpersonal growth, empathy, and the realization that all people are merely human, often suffering in similar ways. Through the sharing of their experiences, they were able to learn the various ways they were more similar to their peers than they were different. Gradually, their preconceived notions and learned behaviors were stripped away.

The journal assignment given to the students by Erin Gruwell also allowed a safe space for self-expression, self-exploration, and a healthy release of problematic emotions that previously lacked an outlet. Through this process, they learned about each other as well as themselves. Diary writing, at the root of it, is a process of sorting through one's thoughts. So this exercise, while therapeutic, also led to newfound clarity and maturation through Gruwell's encouragement.

Sharing their stories with each other inevitably paved the way for the students' ability to see one another as mirror images of their own pain, rather than sources of pain. Gruwell fought to keep this process going, believing that their newfound unity was not only useful, but formative. Through witnessing Gruwell's fight for their best interests, the students developed a sense of trust and, most notably, hope.

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Eva changes throughout the story by going from a naive, frightened young girl to a thoughtful, confident young woman. In the earlier years of her life, she saw her father rousted by police and taken away from his community for the crime of "being respected by his people" too much. This perceived (and real) racism marked Eva's heart and spirit for a long time.

When she entered Gruell's class, she was a tough act—getting into fights and making other poor choices. She joined a gang and participated in illegal activities. She skipped school. She recognized that even in the classroom, students segregated themselves based on their racial identity. The environment outside was no better; just getting to school meant a gauntlet of racial and gang-affiliated violence.

When she witnessed the robbery, she had a hard choice whether or not to lie about murdered the shop keep. At first, she was going to lie to protect her family member, but in the end she chose to tell the truth. This decision was mostly based on the shared experiences between Eva and other students in Gruell's class.

Between showing solidarity amongst each other, bonding via the Holocaust Museum experience, and meeting the holocaust survivors, they came together to positively change their world. Eva's evolution throughout the book shows this the most.

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