Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, students have gone through challenges in their daily lives and many of those experiences can be translated into stories of hope and persistence to inspire others.
The Whipple Writing Fellowship is a writing group with multiple programs, including workshops and summer programs. The Fellowship wants their participants to share their stories to provide hope to others during a challenging time.
At one of their most recent fellowship meetings, each writer was given a prompt to write about any prevalent uncertainties in their lives. During the meeting, writers took turns reading out their stories, followed by a Q&A at the end. The night was the conclusion of a month-long writing workshop between the writers, as they worked together on their own stories from the prompt, bonded and improved their writing.
Fellowship participant junior Jacob Smagula said he was very pleased with the teachers that helped facilitate the workshop.
“The program is wonderful because it’s run by so many great teachers who really care about you such as Jen Martin and Ben Berman,” Smagula said. “They’re wonderful teachers who I love and they always challenge you to challenge yourself.”
Smagula said he hopes his story on his challenges with allergies can empower other students who also struggle with it.
“I chose to focus on my food allergies, because food allergies are something that is uncertain for everyone who faces them. I just want people to know that if either you suffer from food allergies, or someone you love has some allergies, you can always overcome them,” Smagula said.
The writers were also happy with how close they were able to get with each other during the workshop. Junior Keya Waikar said the vulnerability in the stories participants shared demonstrates the importance of the trust and bonding that happens.
“One of my favorite things about Whipple was definitely the collaboration with the other students. I think we connected on a different level because we were being so vulnerable with each other,” Waikar said.
Waikar focused her writing on her Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and how it worsened uncertainty at certain times in her life.
“The prompt was how you deal with uncertainty. Having OCD, it’s so much worse to feel that uncertainty. And then taking two of the biggest moments that have happened thus far in my life, my cousin being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, and my mom being diagnosed with cancer, those are really hard times,” Waikar said.
The Fellowship was also a great experience to increase their writing skills, according to some of the writers who participated in the program. Sophomore Miles Luther said he felt a sense of pride in his improved writing and that the program offered a new viewpoint of your experiences, both good and bad.
“Something I really enjoyed about the fellowship is that I feel proud that I’ve learned how to write in a different way. I’ve learned how to express my feelings through writing,” Luther said. “Because this is a story about my emotion and my transition, and the maturity of my emotions, it is powerful to really reflect on your life and process and to develop a new viewpoint that changes you.”