Writers in the Community

About

Writers in the Community (WITC) is a not-for-profit internship project that sends MFA students to volunteer as creative writing teachers in placements as varied as hospitals, correctional facilities, halfway houses, community non-profits, as well as public, private, or alternative schools, and other locations throughout the Spokane area.

Beginning in the Spring of 2020, due to COVID-19, WITC had to restrict our sites to local schools because our community partners did not have the technology available to allow for distance learning.  In AY 20/21, Interns taught at a variety of educational levels including upper elementary, middle school, and high school using distance learning technology. The interns teach at least eight weekly workshops that provide students with additional skills in creative writing. We hope to welcome back our community partners when we can do so safely.

WITC offers MFA candidates an invaluable opportunity to gain non-profit, community service, and instruction experience outside of the university environment. The internship prides itself on bringing art and creative writing to underserved or underrepresented communities. It thus allows MFA candidates to exercise that desire to act as global citizens and influencers of society which often goes hand-in-hand with being a writer.

WITC also publishes InRoads, an annual anthology of work collected throughout the year from all its placements, celebrating its students’ writing and creativity. WITC employs one Student Director (a second-year MFA candidate who receives a Graduate Service Appointment including tuition remission and a stipend) along with an InRoads Managing Editor (a first-year candidate working for internship credit) who often moves into the Student Director position the following year.

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Message from the Student Director

Interns who participate in Writers in the Community benefit from direct teaching experience, but also gain insight in working with diverse populations. Interns often find the weekly workshops they teach to be a highlight of their week. It is rewarding to see the excitement in students as they learn new things and their enthusiasm is contagious. Plus, there is nothing like teaching to cement concepts that are discussed in MFA classes. WITC interns also gain experience that represents valuable job experience. They learn to think on their feet, speak in public, and cross cultural boundaries.

As Student Director, I have experienced satisfaction of working with interns as they taught online for the first time. Although working online represents new challenges, students met those challenges directly and effectively reached and inspired students. This year’s interns are equipped to transfer the skills they honed in their sessions to teach remotely with any audience. Remote learning is only going to increase in the future.

More than anything, WITC is about empowerment–the empowerment of the interns as they develop their skill base and the empowerment of the students in their workshops who hone their craft to better tell their varied stories.

Emalee Gillis, Student Director, AY 19/20 and AY 20/21

InRoads 23

The 2020 WITC anthology, InRoads 23, showcased the winners of the WITC Creative Writing Contest for Spokane High School Students as well as the writings from participants of WITC sites throughout the community.

Current and past issues of InRoads can be purchased for $8, to help fund new placement development for the program. Please contact WITC at witc@ewu.edu to inquire.

Community Voices

Spokane School District Creative Writing Contest

Spokane Arts LogoFrom January to March, 2020, WITC will welcome all high school students from Spokane School District (SSD) to participate in a creative writing prose contest. The district’s English teachers and department leads are supporting WITC in developing the proposed contest and have agreed to integrate it into their English or creative writing curricula. MFA graduate students interning for WITC will also visit individual classrooms and conduct pro-bono craft lessons and workshops where students can share their work and receive encouraging guidance and feedback in real-time. An estimated 450 students enrolled in these English classes, creative writing electives, and after-school writing clubs from the seven SSD high schools will thus receive an opportunity to create and submit a 2000-word piece of fiction or nonfiction to the competition.

Community Voices has been made possible in part by a SAGA grant from the Spokane Arts Fund. This SAGA funding will help the program increase its reach, improve its materials, and publish and distribute the contest participants’ work in their regular journal, InRoads.

Please visit www.spokanearts.org for more information on the SAGA program.