|LEARNERS IN ACTION||October 2000|
Fearless Writing: the Write to Learn Project (Part 2)
Editor's note: This is the second part of Alice Kneeland's article. We join her as she describes the travels of the "Write to Learn" group. My regrets that I had to edit the article for length.
Our first trip was to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in January. This was my first commercial plane ride. Even though the weather was extremely cold -40C, the people of Yellowknife were warm and friendly.
While in Yellowknife, we did eight workshops and met the most wonderful people. During them we found out that there were nineteen different languages spoken in the Northwest Territories. Through their writing with us, the students told us how they would like to be living off the land like their forefathers did. But instead, they were sent to Yellowknife from all parts of the Northwest Territories to become educated. The hardest part was, they had to leave their families behind. The people were very homesick as they wrote about their families and about the hardships of going back to school, especially in a strange new place. Each workshop touched our hearts, and left us with wonderful memories of our trip.
Our next excursion was to Red Deer, Alberta an hour and a half drive from our hometown, Camrose. When we did a workshop for the Central Alberta Tutor Rally, I remember having an overwhelming feeling overtake me, and I started to have an anxiety attack. Stressful times bring on attacks I cannot control. As I did more workshops with the Write To Learn project, they began to lessen.
Deborah and I did the next workshops in Pincher Creek, Alberta. We gave workshops to students, tutors, instructors, program coordinators and many people interested in writing. The lady who owned the Bed and Breakfast came to one of the workshops. She had been a reporter at one time, and was interested in writing the "fearless" way.
At another workshop, we had a woman who was so taken with the Key exercise. (The Key exercise is where we pick from a selection of Deborah's grandfather's keys and write about, "What door would the key open or close?"). She said the key she picked was the key for her to write a book. Our workshop was the inspiration she needed. She was so excited about the key, she asked to keep it as a momento from our workshop. In a letter, she wrote Write to Learn at Christmas time, she mentioned that she looks at it every day.
At the Pincher Creek workshops, we also had some students who were inspired. They began their own writing class at their lunch hour.
Our next Write to Learn trip was to Victoria, British Columbia for the Bridges Society. This was a women-only class, and most of the women had suffered with abuse issues. They were in the class to find themselves, safety and new friendships with other women who have gone through similar situations. The women had a wonderful time as we shared our Fearless Writing workshop exercises with them. It was good to see them have fun and hear the laughter in their voices.