Here’s what we’ve been up to this past month via Zoom! If you are interested in bringing a program to your school or organization, email Jennifer Chauhan at email@example.com.
Teen Internship Program Training
This year, we had to provide our teen internship training via Zoom, but that didn’t stop our teens from giving it their all!
On June 22 & 24, we met with our new Teaching Assistant interns to train them to work with our instructors and students in our upcoming summer programs. During training, each intern created a dynamic lesson to “take over” a camp for about 30 minutes on one of the class days. One intern created a PowerPoint slideshow demonstrating how she wrote each line in her own original poem. Another intern merged writing and art by inviting students to create “identity brochures” about who they are and what matters most to them. Because our programming is currently virtual, we were able to have interns participate from outside of New Jersey–one of our interns is reporting from South Korea! We are so excited to see our TA interns in action this summer. We know they’re going to be great!
On June 23 & 25, we met with the new Interview Project summer interns to train them on how to conduct effective interviews using intentional, meaningful questions and active listening to capture interesting answers. During training, we watched how Brandon Stanton, “Humans of New York” founder, used visual and verbal snapshots to create a portrait of his community through stories. We also used mentor texts from HONY’s blog and Instagram page and published stories by previous PWN interns to dig deeper into understanding how to get to the heart of a person’s story. We looked at the craft of writing and options for presenting their final pieces. Since this program is virtual, we utilized the Zoom “breakout room” feature to interview each other in small groups. Students took turns being the interviewer, interviewee, and coach. Coaches were able to offer feedback based on the skills we discussed and practiced. We also talked each day about how stories not only build connections between people but also a more compassionate world. The interns are eager to be matched with a community member by the end of the week and look forward to honoring those members by listening, writing, and sharing their stories, which will be featured in a special upcoming issue of Bridge Ink.
Speaking of Bridge Ink … we’re thrilled to announce our latest issue! Volume 4 Issue 3 features inspirational pieces from all over the United States … and India! Some of these pieces were read in our Teen “WordShare” Open Mics, as well. We’re so proud of our young writers! If you are between the ages of 12-18, please submit your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in our next issue.
Bridge Ink Instagram & Teen “WordShare” Zoom Open Mic
We’ve been posting daily prompts picked by our Teen Ambassadors based on a different theme each week on our Bridge Ink Instagram account. We’re asking teens to share their writing in response to our prompts on their own social media channels using the hashtag #pwnpromptoftheday, and then to join us on Fridays for our teen “WordShare” Zoom Open Mic to share their writing and hear the stories of others. We open every “WordShare” with a freewrite to our prompt theme so students always have something to share, if they choose. We are so proud of the students who have been showing up, writing, and sharing their work with us each week!
Adult Zoom Open Mic
We had our second Zoom Open Mic for adults on Wednesday, June 24, and we are still raving about it today! Some shared sentimental stories that touched our hearts, others shared incredible fiction excerpts, one person even called in all the way from Colorado with his own original spoken word poetry. And another participant called in from Montreal, Canada! We are so impressed with the turnout to these events that we’ve promised to keep them going, even after we are able to move back to the studio. Our next Zoom Open Mic will held Friday, July 24, at 5 p.m., the perfect time to relax and share our writing. Register online here.
Family Based Services
Last week, we provided a writing workshop to staff and clients of Family Based Services Association of NJ. We began by reading Joy Harjo’s poem “For Keeps” to get into the creative mindset. Then we borrowed Elizabeth Gilbert’s 5-4-3-2-1 grounding prompt (listing five things we see, four things we hear, three things we feel, two things we smell, and one thing we taste) before picking one to elaborate on. After sharing, we read Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese,” pulling opening lines “You do not have to …” “Tell me about …” “Wherever you are …” to freewrite off of. So many of the pieces reflected inner strength and wisdom! One of the staff members wrote to us after: “It’s so wonderful to be able to partner with you for these types of much-needed events during these difficult times. This really helped to not only connect with each other but with ourselves.” We have more workshops planned for this summer, including one for teens and one for parents/guardians and their children.
Shore House (Long Branch)
As we’ve continued our weekly sessions with Shore House members, we’ve begun creating themes for our lessons. This month, our themes have included: Legacy, What I Want, Fill in the Blank, and Imagination. We were especially blown away by the Imagination prompt, as each writer wound up imagining a more peaceful world without realizing the synchronicity until we shared. We loved their positivity and empathy for others so much that we suggested stringing lines from their works together into one epic community poem! This poem, and many others, will be published in a Shore House anthology that we are planning to release early fall. More details coming soon!
With the Womyn’s Worth group at Lunch Break this month, we addressed the violence erupting in the country regarding exploitation of people of color. Our discussion was lively and much needed. The importance of connecting and verbalizing with others was encouraged to share the weight of impossible images that are filling our screens daily. Maya Angelou’s poem “Our Grandmothers” was shared as well as some good Netflix shows: Virgin River and Sweet Magnolias (Thank you, Pamela!) to help us decompress. Thank you to all the WOMYN at Lunch Break for sharing their stories and filling our hearts!
Friday Lunchtime Write-In
Every Friday, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., we offer the time and space to generate new writing. Using a guiding theme, we give three prompts to freewrite in response to, encouraging you to allow your mind to go in whatever direction it chooses. At the end, there is time to share if you wish. This month, we’ve explored themes on: hope, definitions, summer, and power. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In, Friday, July 10, to discover what our upcoming theme will be!
Teen Writing Group
Our Teen Writing Group writers have decided to change the layout of the class, wanting more time together on Zoom, even while they’re generating new writing. “I feel like I write better when I’m with this group. You all help hold me accountable,” one teen said. So we now meet on both Zoom and Wet Ink promptly at 5:30 on Thursdays, using the first half of class to generate new writing and the second half to critique those with longer submissions. The teens have also begun incorporating readings into the class, saying that they feel most inspired after reading a good poem or short story. So far they’ve read a poem by Maya Angelou, watched the TedX video with Alexandra Lewis, and read a poem by Langston Hughes, all choices picked by our teen leaders. We feel most inspired by these teens!
Because we do not want cost to be a deterrent to taking classes, PWN has always provided partial and full scholarship seats. These past sessions, we’ve seen an increase in the need for financial assistance and therefore have offered more scholarship seats. Since March, we have provided 18 adult and 27 youth/teen seats totaling more than $6,500 in scholarships. We know the students who did not have to drop classes are incredibly grateful for this support. For information about our scholarship program, email Jennifer Chauhan at email@example.com.