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Saturday, 2 June 2012

Thoughts from ITSA 2012 team members on the Institute for Writing & Thinking at Bard College

Between May 12th and 13th, ITSA participated in a workshop led by Indu Chugani, co-founder of Educators for TeachingIndia (EFTI), supported by the Harvard South Asia Initiative. ITSA 2012 team members from Philadelphia and New York traveled to Bard College, where they spent two intense days focusing on the role of writing in teaching and learning. Team member Arden Feil comments on the experience:

“Participating in the training with the Institute of Writing and Thinking at Bard College really helped me see just how valuable and worthwhile writing can be. At first I was a bit apprehensive about the weekend. I really had no idea what to expect, and I was both excited and nervous about the idea of meeting all of my fellow interns and partaking in this workshop with them.  The concept of Writing and Thinking was not new to me; I had already participated in a few similar workshops prior to the weekend, yet I never felt I had truly experienced the workshop. This weekend’s workshop far exceeded my expectations and brought me to understand and appreciate the value in the writing and thinking techniques. (…) What I found so amazing about this workshop was how easily we were able to form an environment where everyone felt comfortable about sharing their writing. This can be credited to our wonderful workshop leader, Indu Chugani. Her interest and specialty in topics concerning India was a very fitting way to focus the workshop and connect it back to our work in India this upcoming summer. What I took away most from the workshop was the idea of perspective and how our views can so easily be influenced by the Western media’s portrayed image. I found myself confronting the question of what is the real India, and struggling to find a definite answer. I enjoyed the process of answering questions by “free writing” and then going around the room in a read aloud fashion to share our response. Not only was it was helpful to hear the varying opinions of the group, but it made me feel more confident in my own writing skills.

            I hope to take some of the lessons we learned that weekend to India because I think they will be valuable to our curriculum. More than anything, this workshop made me realize how little I can prepare for entering a culture so drastically different to my own; however, I also know that our ultimate goal is to give our students a new way of thinking. If we can put to use some of the techniques we witnessed in this workshop I think we will be able to get past some of the cultural barriers separating us and our students, and lead successful and impacting workshops.”

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