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World Building in Fantasy & Science Fiction: Week 1

This blog post was written by Chana Porter, this month’s instructor for the Fantasy Writing Workshops

I have the absolute privilege of leading a series of workshops at Girls Write Now this August, focused on World Building in Fantasy and Science Fiction. Throughout this series, we’ll be focusing on creating setting, developing complex characters, exploring ritual and culture, while using hands-on techniques to break through writer’s block and other possible pitfalls of writing long fiction.

For our first workshop, we focused on developing specificity of setting, to create the sights, sounds, and smells of our imaginary worlds. During this long writing exercise, students used a well-known fairy tale to explore setting, reframing the classic story in a modern context. Here’s a fairy tale Sharon Young, an attendee, adapted for her first exploration of developing setting. Read Sharon’s retelling below, and stay tuned for more updates on this series!

***

There’s this lizard that camouflages itself from its prey. Spiders, snakes, birds, and even other lizards all want a bite out of it. It survives by disappearing into tree bark, mimicking its surroundings. Not an exciting life, but enough to get by.

Maisie felt like this lizard. Adapting to whatever it took to survive.

Both of her parents were well respected scientists. They loved watching PBS documentaries and taking her to museums where they were granted discounted passes. At her 8th grade club fair they insisted that she signed for every science program.

The intelligence must have skipped a generation. Maisie never attended a single robotics meeting. She went to film club instead. During the robotics exhibition she casually stood by a random mechanism while her parents marveled over the wiring and coding.

And now there was this.

“Over 8 million people living in New York City. Pools of high schoolers to choose from. And Maisie has been selected to attend the prestigious Atticus High School!” Her dad proudly announced to her Gran from Alaska over the phone.

Maisie could hear him from her loft bed. Carefully pushing aside his stack of Stephen King novels, she tried to shut the door to their small bedroom crammed with various miscellany. How can they afford the tuition when they can barely fix this place up.

Maisie stepped on an astronaut Barbie she’d received many holidays ago. She’d specifically asked for a dancer. Her dad claimed it sold out. She stuffed it beneath the futon that her parents shared.

Gran was the first person he’d shared the news with. Then his close colleagues at the clinic. And probably the night class he taught at the community college

“My daughter. Can you believe it?”

Maisie stared blankly at the glossy brochure of the school campus. Students in white lab coats meticulously poured unidentifiable liquids into beakers. Another page proudly displayed the school’s mathlete champions. She never imagined that she’d get in. But something about her dad’s celebrity status in the science world told her otherwise.

Atticus wasn’t a place that could be easily overlooked. For startles, it occupied an old church building on the top of a hill. Maisie could see the tower from her apartment. The facade was antediluvian and crumbly. Paint peeled off the walls. The floors were always dusty, no matter how many times the janitors waxed it over the holidays. And with 340 students enrolled, it wasn’t a place you could be ignored.

At the school orientation a sea of navy and white uniforms occupied the lawn. For once Maisie got her wish. She blended with the crowd. Conversations buzzed around her about the renovated library and the new software for the computer lab.

“Did you catch yesterday’s episode of Supernatural?” she asked a curly redhead girl seated next to her. The fold – in chair squeaked as she shifted.

“What episode?”

The principal gave a groundbreaking message on how their generation was set on change the future. Pure intellects. She felt like a fraud.

By the middle of September she found herself struggling with her advanced math and biology courses. Why do I need to learn college material when I haven’t even seen high school material? Her parents were never home to help, always busy or working late shifts at the lab.

“If you don’t pass the final, I’ll have to fail you,” Mr. Yomishida told her two weeks before Thanksgiving break. “I’ll have to call your parents.”

“No they’re … busy during the day,” Maisie stammered. She’d lied about struggling in her core classes. Her dad beamed at her every morning like a shiny new award.

“That’s my good girl.”

“They’re going to find out eventually,” Mr. Yomishida straightened her stack of failed quizzes on his desk. “Attend homework help in the library in the meantime.”

Maisie was paired with Frank, a junior honor student. She found herself improving, just barely though. His tedious lectures dragged on. Sometimes she’d rather confront her parents than listen to Frank rant about dark matter. A boy sitting three rows in front stifled a laugh behind his book when Frank’s hands flailed in the air.

One Monday afternoon Maisie found herself dozing on her biology book. She’d tried reading a couple of pages before Frank arrived to spare her from his lengthy explanations. The LED lighting made her sleepy and she smelled like dusty books. Her phone vibrated against the oak table. The librarian shot her an irritated look.

Frank: Can’t come today. got a student council meeting

Maisie: thats ok. nobody can cover for you?

Frank: I’m the president

“Hey,” a boy slid into Frank’s usual seat. The one who always cracked up from Frank’s wild hand gestures. He flashed a smile. “Marcey, right?”

“It’s Maisie.”

“We have study hall together.”

“Right, you’re the bathroom monitor. Thought that face looked familiar”

“And you’re the one who scored a 5 on the AP world history exam.”

“So?”

“So, I’m asking you to tutor me. Mine ditched for jazz band.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Because I don’t wave like I’m about to set sail on the Titanic.”

Maisie bit her cheek to stop herself from laughing, a trick she’d learned from sitting with Frank for two hours daily.

“Ok, and if I agreed…”

“I’ll help you. You won’t be sorry”

She considered her options. Parents. Final. Frank.

“Deal.”

He got up abruptly to leave.

“Wait,” she half whispered half called. “I don’t know your name.”

“Just call me … R.”

Something about his response told Maisie that wasn’t his name. But before she could call him back, he was already out the door.

Once again, Maisie was left alone.

***

Chana Porter is a writer and teacher living in Brooklyn, New York. Her plays have been produced and developed in New York City by Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, Primary Stages, PS122, Dixon Place, True Love Productions, The Invisible Dog, and the White Bear in London. She has led classes and workshops in “Writing From The Body” as an artist-in-residence at Cave and Space on White, and as a guest teaching artist at Hampshire College. She is currently pursuing an M.F.A at Goddard College in Creative Writing and writing a series of Young Adult Science Fiction novels entitled New Human Classics.

 

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An Evening with Author Sarah Murray to Benefit Girls Write Now

Dancing with the Dead

This post was written by Development Intern, Megan Malloy.

Last night, acclaimed author and journalist Sarah Murray spoke to a crowded room about something we don’t usually speak about: death. All proceeds from the event went towards supporting GWN’s programs and mission. Murray is the author of the book Making an Exit: From the Magnificent to the Macabre, How We Dignify Death. The book has been called “an Eat, Pray, Love for the afterlife” by the Washington Post, and it’s a medley of personal memoir, anthropological research, and philosophical insights.

“It’s so important to support young writers,” said Sarah. “I didn’t have a huge amount of support while I was at school, and so to have had something like this would have been phenomenal. If I can contribute to that in any way, that’s made me happy.”

Sarah Murray with a photo of her father, Nigel Murray, whose death inspired her to write her book.

The evening’s festivities were held in the stunning offices of Interface, the world’s largest producer of carpet tile. Not only is Interface located in the shadow of the Empire State Building, but it has a sustainable business model that will reduce the company’s carbon footprint to zero by the year 2020.

Panoramic views from the Interface offices.

Panoramic views from the Interface offices.

Board member Marci Alboher introduced Girls Write Now and mentee Misbah Awan. Misbah regaled the audience with her words, reading a fictional account of a young boy cremating his baby brother. Misbah moved the crowd with her piece’s evocative use of detail, and the contrasts she drew between the innocence of childhood and the finitude of death. After sharing her story, Misbah spoke about the influence of GWN in her life, saying that it has given her the confidence to share her work. Misbah now works at the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE), an advocacy group for immigrant and refugee women and girls, and Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), a community organizing group for South Asian Americans.

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Our fabulous mentor, Hadia Sheerazi, spoke about what it was like to grow up female in Pakistan, and how having a father who emphasized girls’ education made all the difference in her future. She spoke about the bond she shares with her mentee, Carmen, and how she tries to impart to Carmen that “what you have to say matters.”

Overall, the event raised $1525. Thank you to all who attended, and all who gave generously to support our work!

Check out an excerpt of Misbah’s writing below.

Excerpt

  • Misbah Awan7 National Anthems
    Out of all my travels, it’s the children I remember, with perfect clarity; they are impossible to forget. Their tiny hands. Their vibrant smiles. Their eyes, dancing. Their tattered clothes, or lack thereof. But this one was different. And it was only then I had realized that this is not a personal world, no matter how much of it recognizes you in the streets…
    Out of these children, no one paid more than a second’s worth of attention to a little boy, about ten years old, walking by alongside the edge of the dirt road. The boy was wearing faded white clothes, which barely protected him from the heat of the late afternoon sun. His feet were bare and his arms stiff. He walked while carrying a baby on his back. The little head behind his was tipped back, as if the baby were fast asleep.
    Passing strangers opened a pathway for this boy simultaneously — it was a becoming routine amongst the war-weary nation. A lone black dog wagged his tail when he passed by…

Check out more photos on our Facebook page here!

 

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Girls Write Now Selected as Semifinalist for 2014 Nonprofit Excellence Awards

We’re thrilled to announce that Girls Write Now has been selected as one of ten semifinalists for the 2014 New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards!

Produced by the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, Philanthropy New York, and sponsored by WNYC, the awards honor organizations with exemplary management practices, better enabling them to realize their goals and cultivate their programs. Michael Clark, president of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee, applauded the semifinalists for being ”models of key best practices that showcase how nonprofits can employ strong management to better fulfill their missions.” We aim to be transparent, efficient, and innovative in our management so that supporting the next generation of writers will happen today, tomorrow, and years into the future.  

“For roughly half of our history, Girls Write Now was an entirely volunteer-driven enterprise,” explained founder and executive director, Maya Nussbaum. “As we increased capacity across our board, staff, and budget, our aim has been to harness that volunteer power while professionalizing the organization’s management strategies. The application process for the 2014 Nonprofit Excellence Awards has helped Girls Write Now put a laser focus on our structures and systems. The process has given us pride for all that we have accomplished in the areas of outcomes tracking, board engagement, IT, finances , fundraising, communications, and more.”

We’re humbled to be in the company of such  diverse nonprofits as Bowery Residents’ Committee, Community Access, Equal Justice USA, Graham Windham, Leake and Watts, Inc., Planned Parenthood of New York City, Row New York, Safe Horizen, and Washington Heights CORNER Project. They’ll be announcing three finalists later this year, so stay tuned! Read more about the awards and each semifinalist in the official press release.

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GWN Grads: The Next Chapter

This post was written by communications intern, Madison Campbell.

Our senior girls were just as successful as ever this year, with a 100% graduation rate from high school. The graduates will be moving on to attend an extremely impressive list of colleges and universities, including University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, Howard University, Pomona College, Stanford University, Pace University, Skidmore College, Harvard College, College of Staten Island, New York University and more. Our mentees have come so far and have accomplished so much, and we are so proud of them!

Here are a few of the GWN mentees who will soon be beginning their freshman years at college:

Carmin Wong has been a mentee for two years, and will be attending Howard University this  fall. Carmin’s mentor, Hadia, says, “I have seen her grow and develop a distinct and strong voice, and as a teacher and friend, it has been an honor and a pleasure to be a part of her journey. I cannot wait to see her take on the world. And she will!” Carmin and Hadia wrote a powerful piece together called “Who Am I,” which discusses race, identity, and how others perceive them. Check it out below!

Second year mentee Karla Kim graduated from Hunter College High School, and will be attending the University of Pennsylvania this  fall – with a National Merit Scholarship! Karla’s mentor, Sherry, explains, “Helping her discover herself as a writer has reawakened my joy of the craft.” This past April, Karla wrote and performed a piece titled, “Dear Christina Yang: Farewell to My Person,” which was also featured on the Huffington Post.

Angelica Rozza, third year mentee, will be attending State University of New York at New Paltz this  fall. She graduated from Long Island City High School, and won a Merit Scholarship to State University of New York at Potsdam. Angelica says of her mentor, Joanna, “Without her support and motivation, senior year and the college application process would have been a nightmare.” Angelica wrote and performed a piece titled, “The Woman Upstairs” at our June CHAPTERS reading.

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Ambassadors of the Arts

This post was written by communications intern, Emely Paulino.

This summer, our mentees have been involved with some incredible leadership initiatives. From opening the Youth I.N.C State of the Market Conference to speaking at the YWCA Symposium, meet our ambassadors of the arts!

Rumer LeGendre — Second-year mentee Rumer LeGendre was selected to perform at a reading of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf” at the Harlem Hospital Pavilion on June 16th! Partnered with the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the event was a celebration of what it means to be female in the 21st century, with a focus on empowering women and girls.

Taysha Clark — Mentee alum and Youth Board member Taysha Clark spoke at the YWCA Potential to Power Girls Symposium on June 2nd, 2014. Taysha is the President and Founder of the Barnard College Civil Liberties Club, and United Nations Representative for Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund. Currently, she is a sophomore at Barnard College majoring in Political Science and Human Rights with a minor in Sociology and Race and Ethnic Studies.

Priscilla Guo – “GWN has been my sisterhood of traveling pens/ Has been a place to grow/ By working a lot harder/ By being a self-starter/ By going so much farther/ I’m coming up taller.” On June 17,  recent GWN grad Priscilla Guo opened the Youth I.N.C State of the Market Conference with her poem, Coming Up Taller. Over 300 private equity representatives and senior investment professionals convened for the 7th annual State of the Market conference, with Governor Mitt Romney and David Bonderman as headliners. The two-day conference aimed to raise funds for Youth I.N.C., an organization that financially supports youth-serving non-profits — one of them being GWN!

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Steve Orr (Founder & Executive Director, Youth Inc.), Priscilla Guo (Mentee, GWN), and Rebecca Haverson (Writing & Mentoring Program Manager, GWN)

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Girls Write Now Presents: Ode to Malala

“Malala Yousafzai and Girls Write Now share the notion that one young woman’s voice can open up great possibilities. I like to think that’s true.” -Suzzy Roche

Girls Write Now presents “Ode to Malala,” a music video that was born two years ago when mentee, Priscilla Guo, was moved to write a poem about 15-year-old Pakistani education activist, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot on her way to school. On June 12th, Malala turned 17. To honor her and her ever-important work, the Girls Write Now community shared this music video as we as an organization also head into our 17th year. For us at Girls Write Now, Malala Day represents everything we’re working for. A girl’s voice matters, and Girls Write Now is making that happen, one girl at a time.

We are all Malala. We all have stories to tell. Let yours be heard. Watch this video and support the next generation of women writers. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Malala Fund. ”Ode to Malala” is now available on iTunes.

“Ode to Malala,” was born through a collaboration of creative forces. Priscilla Guo, a graduating fourth year mentee headed to Harvard this fall, wrote a poem inspired by Malala and performed it at the 2012 International Day of the Girl and at Lincoln Center. Legendary folk singer-songwriter Suzzy Roche, Priscilla, and third-year mentee Najaya Royal collaborated on adapting the poem into lyrics, which Suzzy then put to music. We debuted it at the 2014 Girls Write Now Awards, honoring Dawn L. Davis, Roberta Kaplan, and Gloria Steinem.

Gloria Steinem said after hearing it for the first time: “That was the best song I’ve ever heard. Absolutely great!”

The song was performed by students of the Princeton Atelier 496 program, a program Toni Morrison helped start in 1994, under the guidance of Suzzy Roche and Meg Wolitzer, and recorded by Stewart Lerman. The filmmakers Andrew Zox and Daniel Zox, directed this outstanding music video in multiple locations throughout New York City. They said of the process, “it was incredible filming a music video to a song inspired by Malala Yousafzai, written by a young female poet, and performed by a legendary female folk artist.”

Learn more about the Girls Write Now girls involved:

Priscilla Guo is a rising freshman at Harvard University. In 2014, Priscilla was named one of Business Insider’s “Most Impressive High School Graduates.” She was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to serve as a youth representative on the New York City Youth Board and is tasked with advising the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development on growing youth programming. Priscilla founded her high school’s UNICEF chapter and served as its President for four years. An impassioned champion for girls’ education, Priscilla serves as a National Teen Advisor to Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign that empowers American teens to raise awareness and funds for U.N. programs that aid some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. She also recently worked with Congresswoman Grace Meng on the Girls Count Act, which ensures girls receive birth certificates, documentation that is critical for accessing education, health and social services and career opportunities. As a writing fellow for NYCAN, she wrote and researched articles for education reform. Priscilla has been a mentee and Poetry Ambassador at Girls Write Now for four years. She says of Girls Write Now, “It has been my sisterhood of the traveling pens.”

Najaya Royal’s mother heard about Girls Write Now when she was eleven, and Najaya waited eagerly to apply. School was not always a safe place for her, much like Malala. In middle school, Najaya was cyber-bullied. Writing, a comfort to her since elementary school, gave her an outlet for expressing herself during this time. Now, she’s making waves with her poetry, already earning a Silver Key in Poetry from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and serving as a Brooklyn Community Foundation Peter Jay Sharp Youth Arts Fellow during 2013-2014.

Nishat Anjum was a second year mentee with Girls Write Now and is headed to Macaulay Honors at Brooklyn College this fall. A native of Bangladesh, Nishat is a recipient of the Silver Key in Short Story for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She reflects on her experience with her mentor, “Being a teenager is about developing your own identity and finding your place in the world. While I haven’t discovered what the universe wants me to do, I wouldn’t have realized my potential as a writer if I weren’t paired with Julie. Meeting Julie was like opening my eyes to the world beyond my island. I learned that sometimes the best story you can tell is your own, and that fewer words can have more significance. By encouraging me to reach past my comfort zones, Julie has given me a better perspective on who I am.”

Mennen Gordon will continue with Girls Write Now this fall, as she heads into her senior year at the Institute for Collaborative Education. She has already received a Silver Key Honorable Mention from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Rumer LeGendre, born and raised in New York City, is headed into her third year at Girls Write Now. In 2014, Rumer was chosen to perform at a reading of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf” ​at an event hosted by the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.

Ariana Nicoletta is a member of our Youth Board, and describes Girls Write Now as the first creative outlet that accepted her freely and without judgment. Arianna attends New York University – Steinhardt, and majors in Communicative Sciences & Disorders.

Jade Rodriguez joined the GWN community as a sophomore, and will begin her junior year this fall. She attends the Urban Assembly Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists and writes for her school newspaper the BSSWA Bulletin. Because of Girls Write Now, she’s “taking risks and breaking through.” We are looking forward to watching her and her writing grow as she continues with Girls Write Now.

Natalia Vargas-Caba is a proud 2007 mentee-alum who works to further solidify the sense of sisterhood in the community by exploring new outlets and new inspirations. In 2014, she returned to Girls Write Now as a spring semester intern to give back for all the inspiring experiences the community had delivered to her as a young writer. She completed her English Associates Degree at Bronx Community College and will continue her studies at Sarah Lawrence in fall 2014 with a major in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies. When not interning or studying, Natalia can be found enclosed within the quiet, protective walls of an undiscovered cafe sipping hot green tea with Rimbaud’s words on hand.

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June Chapters Recap: Breaking Through and Moving Forward

This post was written by Mentee Shannon Daniels

Shannon at CHAPTERS

Shannon Daniels reads her piece at CHAPTERS on June 20th 2014.

        It didn’t hit me when I’d spun before the vanity mirrors of the green room, munched on granola bars and pretzels, and rehearsed with Amanda in the stairwell. It didn’t hit me when we practiced the first lines of our pieces one at a time, recited tongue twisters, and shook out our bodies before the show. It didn’t even hit me once I was on stage. Not when I walked down, not when I high-fived the row of mentees who’d cheered for me in the crowd. The thought that this would be my last CHAPTERS performance and as a Girls Write Now mentee is still hard for me to believe.

    After the show, my mentor, Whitney, flung her arms around me.

    “I hope they’re not taking pictures of me crying.”

    I laughed. “I think you’re good.”

    “I’m just so happy and proud of you,” she said. “I mean, this is your last CHAPTERS, our last year together, and you’ve grown up so much.”

        It was the best compliment anyone could’ve given me: not that my writing was “nice” or “interesting” or that I was special for winning awards, but that I had changed. I was different from the Shannon who never thought she could write plays or make a video game or create characters with complex, real relationships – none of which I could’ve done without Whitney’s guidance and encouragement.

        I made my way through the crowd. As I hugged and chatted with the mentees and mentors I’d befriended over the past three years, I realized that this really would be a good-bye, at least for a while. I’ll attend college on the opposite coast, miles from the community that has made New York a beautiful, bustling, electric part of me. I’ll miss the water towers and slosh of cars going over puddles outside my window. I’ll miss my parents, my friends, and the mentees who have become as engrained in my story as a stars in a constellation. But, more than anything, I feel ready for all the “breakthroughs” that lie ahead. I know that when I make my way back to New York, I’ll have a community of women waiting for my stories and eager to share their own

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Penguin Random House Global Walk for Girls Write Now

GWN_Header PRH Global Walk

This post was written by communications intern, Emely Paulino.

For the second year in a row, Girls Write Now was selected by Penguin Random House employees (last year, by Penguin Group) as the charity beneficiary of their Global Walk. On Friday, June 13th, Penguin Random House employees braved the rainy weather and walked along the Hudson in support of the next generation of women writers. 150 fundraisers and 950 individual donors collectively raised a record-breaking $46,500! All of the funds go to support our unique writing and mentoring programs that help  shape the future of women in writing and publishing. We would like to thank everyone who walked and fundraised for our program.

Said Geoffrey Kloske, Vice President and Publisher of Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Random House, “Riverhead Books is looking for the next great new literary voices so it was an exciting honor to partner with Girls Write Now to help raise funds and awareness for the incredible work they are doing to mentor the female voices of the future.”

After the walk, employees met at the Riverside Boathouse for a few words from Markus Dohle, Chairman and CEO of Penguin Random House, and from us here at GWN.

Said Maya Nussbaum, Founder and Executive Director of Girls Write Now, “Last year, when both Penguin Group and Random House began partnering with Girls Write Now, the power was made clear of matching an intergenerational community of readers and writers with the industry that gives them a voice. We are  excited to continue this partnership, working with the world’s largest book publisher on behalf of our diverse and talented girls, poised to become the next generation of authors, editors, reviewers and publishers.”

Mentee alum, Emely Paulino, now a sophomore at Bard College, spoke about the impact of Girls Write Now on her life path. ”I don’t know what I would have done without the support from Girls Write Now,” she said. “I mean it. They helped me find my voice, and I will always be grateful for that.”

The event concluded with  remarks from Lyndsay Faye, a Girls Write Now mentor and Penguin Random House author. She discussed her relationship with her mentee, Karliis, and how special it was to watch her grow as a writer. Said Lyndsay, “I want to leave each of you personally with one request, and it isn’t to donate, and it isn’t to volunteer either, because you all have personal projects and obligations: if you could, for me, I would love for each of you to tell one other person about Girls Write Now, and just mention what we do and why we do it. Because that’s how I came to be a part of the team, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, so please: tell somebody about what you heard here, and thank you for coming.”

Thank you again to everyone at Penguin Random House for supporting Girls Write Now and giving  girls the opportunity to find their voices. Check out some photos from the event below!

From left to right: Mentee alum Emely Paulino, Maya Nussbaum, Markus Dohle, Lyndsay Faye and Michelle Paul

From left to right: Mentee alum Emely Paulino, Maya Nussbaum, Markus Dohle, Lyndsay Faye and Michelle Paul

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College Bound Meets Morgan Stanley: The GWN Resume and Cover Letter Writing Workshop, 2014

This blog post was written by Program Intern, Emily Becker.

A group picture of College Bound participants with Morgan Stanley volunteers!

A group picture of College Bound participants with Morgan Stanley volunteers!

Upon first glance, the rigid mediums of the resume and cover letter may not seem conducive to best representing what makes you you. Yet these tools of the trade appear again and again at nearly every juncture—college applications, scholarships, and jobs all require the essential boiling down of your character to a couple 8 x 10s.

Mentee Misbah and a Morgan Stanley Volunteer working one-on-one to perfect her resume and cover letter.

Mentee Misbah and a Morgan Stanley Volunteer working
one-on-one to perfect her resume and cover letter.

That’s why Girls Write Now partnered with Morgan Stanley as a part of GWN’s College Bound Program and Morgan Stanley’s Women’s Business Alliance for an in-depth Resume and Cover Letter Writing workshop. College Bound participants learned all the ins and outs of concisely and unabashedly highlighting their skills and experiences. The girls had the amazing opportunity to sit down one-on-one with Morgan Stanley volunteers, a diverse group of incredible women who are all leaders and role models in their own right. During the session, the girls and volunteers worked tirelessly to hone the girls’ resumes and cover letters, identifying the their strengths and goals along the way. Between the determination of the girls and the wisdom of the volunteers, some truly wonderful resumes emerged!

Mentee alum Tatiana sharing her thoughts during Closing Lines.

Mentee alum Tatyana sharing
her thoughts during Closing Lines.

Best yet, these resumes were all about the bragging and not the bluffing. One of the most important lessons of the workshop was to not create a false persona to please college admissions or employers, but rather to pinpoint why the real you is most deserving of whatever position you’re after. One participant explained, “It was very interesting for me to realize the balance of putting my best foot forward and staying true to who I am in my resume and cover letter…at the end of the day when you walk into that room for an interview, they want to see you, for who you really are.” Certainly the College Bound girls have nothing to be afraid of when it comes to presenting their true selves. They are leaders and team players, writers and innovators, athletes and artists, and we can’t wait to see where their resumes will take them!

Listen to College Bound participants reflect on their experience
at the workshop during their Closing Lines.

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Chapters Roundup 2014

Tuhfa Begum performs her piece “The Feminist In Me” at CHAPTERS May 2014

Tuhfa Begum performs her piece “The Feminist In Me” at CHAPTERS May 2014

School’s out and summer’s here. We can’t believe another CHAPTERS season has passed, but what a year it’s been. On Friday June 20th, in an overflowing auditorium in SoHo, more than 250 audience members cheered as our girls took to the stage in the culminating reading of the 2014-15 program year. Keynote speaker Christina Baker Kline (#1 NYT bestselling author of Orphan Train) brought us home.

Earlier this spring, Amy Fusselman, Farai Chideya, and Ana Castillo—all rock star women writers—introduced our fearless and inspirational girls. Take a look back at Amy’s electrifying speech and hear about CHAPTERS straight from a mentee.

We couldn’t possibly show you all the magic of CHAPTERS in one short blog post, so instead, check out our snapshots of each reading. With videos of our guest authors, samples of pieces, and photo galleries, you won’t feel like you’ve missed a thing from March, April, May, or June. Plus, browse the blog and find out what it’s like to go from page to stage!

Samori Covington, “Earth, Wind & Fried Meatballs” at April CHAPTERS 2014

Ana Castillo talks to our mentees about the power of storytelling at May CHAPTERS 2014

WITH THANKS TO:
The National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. CHAPTERS 2014 would not have been possible without our Readings Committee and Youth Board, Lauren Harms, Tom Hunt, and Dave Shuff. Thanks also to our deeply committed Board of Directors and Program Advisory Committee; our tireless staff, volunteer committees, and interns; and our countless individual donors.

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