The outstanding journey began at a retreat at Kenyon College. To all my dear Ohioan friends, let me just say this is a MUST place to visit. Their campus is gorgeous, small but with a flare of vintage. Their streets beg to be walked on while paying attention to the smallest details. The buildings' architectural design is one you want to pay attention. It is covered with unique twist and turns. The town is filled with brilliant minds, inquirers, researchers, word lovers, tales and superstitions. It was impossible not to feel inspired to write at a spectacular setting like this. Kenyon Colleges invites all writers to take out their pens and let them lead the way. It was at Kenyon College where CAWP Institute 2011- A Community of Writers was born. Our group bonded over poetry and read alouds. Our group connected through experiences and words. Our common love for all things well written brought us together. Our common passion to become better teachers of writing became our mutual goal.
Our group even had the chance to meet a celebrity on campus: Richard Jenkins (from the movie: Eat, Pray, Love)
That was definitely one of our surprising moments that we all like to remember and talk about. It is life's little moments or big ones that bring a community together and make us all look back and think, "hey, that was fun!" But Jenkins wasn't the only famous person that had the privilege to enjoy a walk on Kenyon College's campus. Other writers like Nikki Giovanni, Jonathan Kozol, Henri Petroski among other celebrities left their footprints and words among those buildings.
Our amazing instructors filled our Writing Institute with books of all sorts, types, backgrounds and genres. We explored a variety of books that led us to try unique pieces of writing. Our instructors are full of knowledge and expertise and the invitation to explore was impossible to resist. I'm a strong believer of creating safe communities in the classroom where students will feel safe writing, reading, talking, sharing, asking, making mistakes and exploring. Our three CAWP directors not only talked about the importance of creating a community, they showed us how it is done by creating that culture and environment in our Writing Institute. We all felt safe putting ourselves out there. We all came from different background and different levels of experience but together we became ONE writing community. One that listens, respects, provides feedbacks and get involved with the community.
I became a better teacher of writing through CAWP. I learned to put myself in the shoes of my students. I learned to listen and pay attention to details and to recognize beautiful language when I hear it. I learned to stretch my horizon as a reader by exploring different genres and how it is written. I learned to give my words a new meaningful, a new taste. I learned the importance of marinating my writing and let it soak it to acquire new taste. I learned to come back to old pieces of writing and firing my the grill of words again. I learned to listen, to pay attention and how to give productive feedback. We all learned to validate each other for who we are. I can honestly say I loved everything about this Summer Institute. I'm certain that our journey together did not end at our Writing Institute. I'm positive that this is only the beginning of bigger and better projects.
On my next post, I'll share with you what a day at CAWP Summer Institute looked like. I will also share some great titles recommended plus some projects we got involved in.