If you looked at me you wouldn’t necessarily notice anything different about me
MY name is Chaya Pessi, and I live in Cleveland, Ohio.
I’m 12 years old, and I enjoy everything creative, like painting, graphics, dancing, music, and writing. I also like to schmooze with my friends. I am the second to oldest in my family; I have one older brother and four younger sisters.
When I was three years old, my parents realized that I wasn’t hearing well. After getting everything checked out, I was fitted with two hearing aids to help me hear. When I was six years old, I got a different kind of hearing aid in one ear, called a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is implanted surgically. The doctor puts a small magnet into the patient’s head. Then there is a hearing device that goes on the outer part of the head, and when the magnets attach, it helps the person hear just like a regular person. It’s pretty amazing! Three years later, when I was nine years old, I got a cochlear implant in my other ear as well.
The truth is that I am a completely regular kid, just like every other kid in the world, and if you looked at me you wouldn’t necessarily notice anything different about me. If anything, I’m extra cool — just ask my friends! I’m not shy or embarrassed about my cochlear implants (though I don’t like when little kids pester me with questions about them). They can even be helpful sometimes — when I’m davening or don’t want to hear something, I can just take them off and tune everything out!
That’s not to say that I don’t ever have to think about them. I need to change the batteries every day, and before Shabbos and Yom Tov. Sometimes the battery dies when I’m in school, which is annoying!
When I was in third grade, my neighbor and I decided to write a magazine for our families. We called our magazine “Chavereinu” and we wrote a few issues. Eventually we stopped because we didn’t have time or patience to keep at it. But then the Corona lockdown came, and I had extra time on my hands. I started writing magazines by hand for my family. Then my teacher showed me how to use a program on the computer to make the magazine digitally. I loved it! My mother emailed the magazines to lots of people, and everyone else loved it, too. In fact, people liked the magazines so much, and we got so much positive feedback, that I kept going. I produce an issue every month and we are up to issue number 19 already!
A lot of effort goes into preparing each magazine. The magazine is usually about 38-40 pages long, and it includes poems, short stories, interviews, recipes, crafts, serials, surveys, a feature, coloring pages, a fun page, a Shemiras Halashon page, a Yedios Kelalios column, quotes, and more. My mother sends it out to more and more people each month, because more and more families ask to join the mailing list. The parents tell us that they love that their kids read a magazine that is full of quality content in each issue. It is a lot of hard work, though.
I have a special notebook where I write all my ideas and plan each issue. I use the same digital format and template for every issue of the magazine. When I start working on the content, I usually start with the smaller pieces and then move onto the bigger things. My brother writes a devar Torah for each issue, and my sister likes to write stories. Sometimes people send in submissions or answers to riddles from previous issues. My friends and neighbors like to write stories and poems. They like to watch me work on the magazine when they come over, and they love to be interviewed or answer questions for the magazine! Everyone wants to be involved.
Once we are done with the content, I usually send the magazine to my grandmother, unless it’s late and I run out of time. She reads and proofreads it. Then my mother sends out the edited, finished magazine. One of the hardest parts is finishing on time, so that my grandmother has time to proofread it before I need to send it out! The other hard part is finding someone to interview for each issue.
Other than those small difficulties, I love writing and creating each magazine. It doesn’t usually interfere with schoolwork, because I do my homework right after school, and usually work on the magazine later in the evening. My favorite parts are working on the stories and feature articles — they are fun to write and design. I love doing the graphics and design on the whole magazine, and I enjoy thinking of new columns and ideas. I maintain spreadsheets of past issues so I can see what ideas I already used.
I write most of the magazine myself. With Hashem’s help, in the future I will probably look for other regular writers. We’re looking for a place to print lots of copies so that we’ll be able to print it and give it out in our local Jewish library and school.
Once, before we started sending out the magazine to other people, I lost a lot of hard work. I was almost completely done working on an issue, but when I went on the computer to finish it up, I could not find the file! It just wasn’t there! It turned out that someone had mistakenly replaced my file with their own, and all my hard work was gone. I tried getting it back, but nothing worked. It had been permanently deleted. Another time, after we’d already started sending it out, the formatting somehow got messed up. Unfortunately, we only realized this after it was already sent out. Then, the next issue also got messed up, but we caught it in time. I had to go through each page to fix it.
I want to do something like this when I get older. We had a job fair at my school, where my grade presented what we want to be when we grow up. I chose “magazine editor” and gave out some copies of the magazine. I like doing things and keeping busy, especially when it comes to helping others and making people happy.
If I could give the world a message, I’d say don’t give up! For real! Keep on trying, and don’t get discouraged by your challenges or when things go wrong. Also, even if you have challenges or problems in life, don’t let them stop you from achieving your goals.
You can accomplish great things if you work hard and have a positive attitude.
We all can.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 944)
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