Writers House offers new internship partnered with local schools

By Arielle Lipset, Campus Life Editor ||

This Fall, the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House will oversee a compelling internship opportunity for involved students at F&M. Roughly six to eight students will take on leadership positions for the Creative Writers Corps, a student-led group of passionate writers and readers that cultivates creative writing workshops for local schools and groups in the Lancaster community.

Founded on the grounds of inspiration and devotion to the craft, the Creative Writers Corps clarifies on the internship application their leaders “do not teach; instead, they lead imaginative workshops, hoping to empower writers of all ages to find their voices.”

The CWC was created in 2013 and modeled after the Community Based Learning course “Writing and Community” taught by Kerry Sherin Wright, director of the Writers House and adjunct professor of  English. The CWC has partnered with various schools and non-profit organizations in Lancaster to engage writers in workshops that foster creativity and encourage writing as an art form.

CWC program and internship leaders include Elyse Flick ’13, CWC coordinator, and Katie Machen ’15, CWC student leader. Both women bring to their positions illustrious experience in the realm of writing. In past years, they have both led and developed workshops with community partners ranging from local elementary schools to non-profit organizations such as The Mix At Arbor Place.

Although this Fall debuts the first CWC internship program, the group has conducted a similar, less structured program for the past two years. Its leaders decided to augment the program and solidify its structure by introducing a selective application process, a training period, and a pre-arranged calendar for a six-week workshop.

Machen identified problems CWC  programs previously
encountered.

“The number one problem was follow-through,” Machen said. “People were really interested and would volunteer for different workshops but weren’t able to fully commit themselves.

“Another issue was the lack of community within volunteer groups, and [volunteers] voiced concern that they were not properly prepared for workshops,” Machen continued. “Elise and I will remedy these problems by creating a program in which people will be really committed and in which they feel like they have adequate training. These additions will make the program seem like more of a community for them.”

Additionally, Machen indicated benefits of a six-week, linear
program.

“The student leaders will be able to figure out how they want to make the trajectory of their workshops, so workshop content will probably vary from one leader to the next,” she said.

After the CWC interns undergo four weeks of training on writing techniques and lesson plans, they will be placed with a community-learning partner. Tackling and producing unique and compelling writing prompts, leaders will be able to take advantage of all the program has to offer.

“What’s really special about our mission and goal is that, for the people who do this, it’s not really about teaching them or others how to write; it’s exploratory,” Machen said. “There’s art within yourself that you can discover. That’s what we’re hoping will come out of all of this.”

With an application deadline of Sept. 15, the chosen interns will begin their journey on Sept. 22. Each following Monday, the new CWC leaders will meet to discuss writing prompts and tentative lesson plans, ultimately seeking the best methods to lead their
workshops.

Workshops will focus on different elements of writing, from poetic-themed sessions on structured poetics or free verse to writing fictitious stories or dissecting the essential elements for plot development.

“Allowing time for free-writing is really important,” Machen said. “We will be working mostly with kids at the elementary school level. It’s important to make sure that there’s time to share, so the kids can hear each other’s work and feel proud of themselves.”

Machen and Flick have fused their dreams and inclinations to originate their ideal internship program. The program is reinforced by the Writers House staff, including Sherin Wright, Joanna Underhill, assistant director of the Writers House, and Delphine Martin, Writers House coordinator.

Due to the program’s official capacity, Machen expressed positivity regarding the admittance and characteristics of this semester’s interns.

“I’m excited to meet the new interns because I know that they will be really passionate people who enjoy kids and appreciate the art of writing,” Machen said.

The internship program will continue into the Spring semester and allow for another round of applications from students looking to find their niche and become involved with a community both in and outside F&M.

Senior Arielle Lipset is the Campus Life Editor. Her email is alipset@fandm.edu.

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