Creative writing project, January-February 2015

As a first activity for 2015, MHI was able to offer twenty young people in Lospalos the opportunity to develop expertise in creative writing and share stories with each other. Hai Nia Istoria (This is my story) writing project was developed by Emily Lush, a Masters student from the University of Queensland, Australia, working in collaboration with MHI staff, including Youth Arts Officer Cornelio de Jesus Baptista and Nelson Diana da Costa. Emily designed a workshop plan guided by three aims: :

1. Develop the skills of MHI staff in teaching story writing;
2. Develop the skills of MHI Youth Arts Program participants in creative writing;  3. Develop a collection of storybooks written for children that can be published and distributed in Lospalos in the future.

Students explored some of the key themes of creative writing. Beginning with an idea inspired by everyday life, they developed their stories through plot twists, character mapping, writing dialogue, and scene-setting through description. Each student  authored his or her own story, and then designed and illustrated it to prepare for a story circle presentation at the end of the program. A range of stories emerged in the writing process, from personal, aspirational stories (e.g. the boy who wants to be a famous reggae singer and practices every day until he hears his song on the radio), to stories inspired by traditional Timorese tales (e.g. the monkey who wanted to learn how to fly).

Emily reports on positive outcomes of the project:  My greatest hope is that some of these students will continue with creative writing in the future – especially as a complement to drawing and illustrating, which they have shown a real passion and talent for. I believe that every student engaged in these workshops to their full capacity, pushed the boundaries of their thinking, and opened their mind to think in new ways about writing and the possibilities for creativity.

A detailed project report documents aims, evaluation findings, photos and activities. Read more about Emily's experience here.

Emily Lush's volunteer work was partially funded by the University of Queensland Advantage Scholarship program.

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