This blog post was written by Chanelle Ferguson, a mentee.
My name is Chanelle Ferguson, and I’m a senior at Herbert H. Lehman High School. I’m also a second-year mentee at Girls Write Now. This summer, I participated in the Advanced Creative Writing Workshop at Columbia University for three weeks. I applied for a scholarship with the Heyman Center, and after submitting my information and a few writing samples, I advanced to the second round. A few days later, I couldn’t wait to share the news with GWN about my acceptance!
Walking onto the campus for the first time was very surreal, as the campus was quite intimidating. But it didn’t hit me how lucky I was until I sat in orientation with thousands of other high school students from all over the world. My day consisted of three classes and in between, I had 15-minute breaks to soak in the beautiful university grounds filled with amazed tourists and busy students.
My first class was taught in a stuffy but comfortable room, by a short story fiction writer. The other two classes were taught in a different high-tech room with a beautiful view of 120th Street and Broadway, by professors who are both soon-to-be authors.
My classmates were all from different places like California and Washington D.C., and from different countries like Qatar. Each had a different story, but we shared a passion for writing.
Every morning, we read, reflected, then wrote, which was helpful and sometimes challenging to continue to do in the next two classes. In morning and afternoon workshops, each person would sit quietly, listen, and take notes while the professor and our peers discussed possible changes to pieces we had completed the night before.
We wrote prose poems, short stories, and screenplays, all while learning about new authors and about one another. Every day, each person walked away a better editor and writer. Our activities included combining characters and a setting to make one story, and a field trip to an open mic night.
Not only did I learn and improve as a writer, I also left the program with three new educators who could help me in the future, and 11 new friends who enjoy the same things I do, and with whom I am still in contact today.