Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Reason To Celebrate our @writingproject Leadership Redesign @CWPFairfield @FairfieldU. Ubuntu Matters. Community Matters

 It has been three-years since we took a gamble and redesigned our traditional summer institute for teachers and rethought ways to tap into youth communities of southern Connecticut to be part of the work we do at Fairfield University. In addition to the portfolios teachers build each summer, we coordinate genres with Young Adult Literacy Labs. This week, the teachers had time to interact with young novelists and yesterday, Ubuntu Academy (young people who have recently immigrated to the United States) collaborated and cowrote with 3rd-5th graders in the Little Lab For Big Imaginations. They wrote poems in two voices about their home countries, interests, and goals.

Afterwards, the youth in Ubuntu Academy moved into the teacher institute to do a writing activity about scars, where they also read poetry from Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate and listened to the song, "Scars," by Emmanuel Jal and Nelly Furtado. The exercise and conversations led the way to a TedxTalk put together last year by Abu and Lossine Bility, teachers in all the labs (and institute) who relocated to the U.S. from Liberia in 2005.

The exercises today have been used as background for a special collaboration we are doing with the Walsh Gallery on Fairfield University's campus with artist Rick Shaefer - a debut of his artwork Refugee Trilogy. Together, we are capturing our stories of border crossing, relocation, home, humanity, struggle, and hope. Our goal is to digitally record all our voices to create a symphony of us - a celebration of uniting teachers and young writers in the summer, rather than separating them.

We are who we are because of who we are together. At CWP-Fairfield, the young people bring the magic of why we are all here. I feel very fortunate to have the kids who participate in Ubuntu Academy - they are the best teachers of all!

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