Surviving the Storm
Literature explores the human condition, our contradictions in a conflict, our choices in a crisis, and our character in a crucible. It most certainly tells us how to believe and behave–about as subtly as an iron fist in a velvet glove.
As a high school English teacher, Silvia helps her students understand that authors harbor biases, and that too many pretend not to have them. She advises students: Don’t be fooled. It’s impossible to live without a viewpoint. The trick is to ferret out the author’s leaning and look in the other direction at the same time. Every great story has its buried secrets. And every story has at least two perspectives.
Silvia Kučėnaitė Foti, MSJ, MAT, MFA, is a journalist, creative writer, teacher, a Catholic deacon’s wife, and mother. Silvia holds Masters’ degrees in Journalism, Education, and Creative Nonfiction, has been a journalist for twenty years, has published two mystery novels, and has been a high school English teacher since 2007.
With a Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University, Silvia has extensive experience in writing nonfiction, and has written for a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Southtown Economist, Southwest News Herald, Crain’s Chicago Business, Chicago Parent, LA Parent, Buenos Aires Herald, Argentine News.
After she earned her Master’s degree in Journalism, she moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to live with her great aunt, her grandfather’s sister, while recording many stories about her legendary grandfather. At the same time, she wrote movie reviews and features for Buenos Aires Herald and Argentine News, photographed polo players for Polo News, taught English to business executives, and learned how to speak Spanish fluently. Perhaps most significantly, she fell in love with Franco Foti, her husband since 1986.
Upon her return to Chicago with her fiancée, she worked for the Academy of General Dentistry, where she managed its flagship monthly newsmagazine AGD Impact, as well as its major communications pieces. She left the AGD to form her own freelance writing company called Lotus Ink, and worked from home while raising their two children, Gabriel and Alessandra. As a freelance writer, she wrote content for several websites, columns for newsmagazines, and feature articles for several publications, including Crain’s Chicago Business, Southtown Daily, and Real Woman Magazine. She won an Honorable Mention Award from Parenting Publications of America for her spot-news feature on “Are we scaring our kids silly?” published in Chicago Parent.
While working as a journalist, she wrote two mystery novels featuring a journalist who covers paranormal events. Skullduggery, published by Creative Arts, received a positive review by the Library Journal: “A highly appealing, up-front heroine and a novel look at Chicago politics make this an attractive first mystery.” The Diva’s Fool, published by Echelon Press, garnered The Lovey Award from the Love Is Murder Conference for Best Paranormal/SciFi /Horror.
She shifted gears and decided to become a high school English teacher. She pursued a Master’s in Teaching at National Louis University, then joined the staff of Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, a selective public high school that attracts a diverse student body.
In the meantime, during her school breaks, she kept researching and writing about her grandfather. After several rewrites and rejections, she realized her journalism training and objective reporting style were inadequate for the complicated and subjective scope of this project. She decided to pursue a second writing degree, this time an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Murray State University in Kentucky. She published a memoir piece about her experience at a diaconate retreat in the literary magazine Dappled Things, and was awarded second place in its 2015 Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction.
Silvia speaks English, Lithuanian, and Spanish fluently. She grew up speaking Lithuanian exclusively in her home in Chicago, attended Lithuanian Saturday School for ten years, and was a member of several Lithuanian organizations, including scouts, a dancing group, a volleyball club, and Futurists, a Catholic organization. Most of her summers were spent at Lithuanian camps in Michigan, where she learned more about her heritage. As a teen-ager, she worked at a hospital founded by Lithuanian nuns, at a printing company that published Lithuanian publications, and for Lituanus, a Lithuanian-American quarterly. At home, she heard countless stories about her grandfather from her mother and grandmother, and was raised to adore him, as well as the homeland.
Silvia is an involved and practicing Catholic in several ministries at her parish near Midway Airport called Our Lady of the Snows, where she has been a catechist to children and adults who want to convert to the faith, a youth minister, lector, and eucharistic minister. Her most touching ministry involves SPRED–Special Religious Education for youth with developmental disabilities, such as autism or cerebral palsy.
Besides reading, writing, and listening to classical music, she likes to walk, swim, do strength-training, and experiment with the latest diet fad because she’s always trying to be on a diet. She is passionate about the subject of heroin addiction. Her daughter Alessandra dated a young man who introduced her to the deadly drug and by her third exposure was helplessly addicted. She succumbed to an overdose at the age of twenty-one in 2015. This might be the subject of a future book.