Summer Institute

2021 SI Session Info

The Summer Institute (SI) is a two-week creative writing and cultural exchange program for participants age 18-22 from Pakistan, India, and the U.S. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the SI will be held virtually in 2021. Students from all disciplines – the arts, humanities, sciences, and everything in between – are welcome to apply! This program is free for accepted applicants and will focus on creative writing and the power of narrative. Attendees take part in collaborative workshops focused on their creative work, in seminars to expand literary knowledge of diverse global literatures, in special seminars on the craft of writing, and in activities designed to forge new lines of understanding and shared purpose among its community of writers. The SI is an opportunity to see writing as a form of action – a personally-empowering skill that can be employed for social change.

The Summer Institute is supported by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.


2021 session: 5 – 19 JuNE, 2021

Crosswalks, edited by Summer Institute Program Assistant Esther Okonkwo, is a compilation of work by the 2021 participants:

An overview of the 2021 Summer Institute participants and activities:

An overview of the six guest-facilitated sessions during the program:



2021 Summer Institute Mentors: 

Chandrahas Choudhury is the author of three novels: Clouds (2019), Days of My China Dragon (2019), and Arzee the Dwarf (2013), and the editor of India: A Traveler's Literary Companion (2010). He has written essays, reportage, and literary criticism for the Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, the Washington Post, and Mint, and lectures widely on writing, and the Indian novel. 



Dini Parayitam has an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa’s Writers' Workshop. Her short fiction has been published in The Iowa Review, Boston Review and BOMB Magazine, among other places. She was an Emerging Writing Fellow at Yale-NUS College (Singapore) and a KALAKARS (NYC) Fellow for Scriptwriting. She is working on her debut novel in Austin, Texas.


Anam Zakaria is the author of Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-administered Kashmir and The Footprints of Partition: Narratives of Four Generations of Pakistanis and Indians, which won her the 2017 KLF-German Peace Prize. Anam has previously worked as a director at The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, collecting oral histories from the Partition generation and religious minorities of Pakistan, and connecting thousands of students in India and Pakistan through a cultural exchange program. She continues this line of work as an independent oral historian and cultural facilitator. 

2021 Summer Institute Staff:

Summer Institute Coordinator: 

Peter Gerlach received his BA and MA degrees in English from Ripon College and the University of Northern Colorado, respectively. After serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Mongolia, he earned a PhD in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University.Since 2004, he has taught university students in subjects such as composition and literature, English as a foreign language, qualitative research, and international education. In addition to the IWP, where he has been since 2018, Peter is adjunct assistant professor in the International Studies Program at The University of Iowa.


Summer Institute Assistant:

Esther Okonkwo is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her works have appeared in Isele Magazine, Catapult, and Guernica. She is a 2021 recipient of the Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, and currently teaches creative writing as an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa. 



2021 Summer Institute Schedule

Saturday, 5 – Saturday 19 June, 2021

Day 1: Saturday, 5th                                                                                            

8:00-10:00am CST                 Welcome to the Summer Institute 2021

Day 2: Sunday, 6th                                                                                               

8:00-10:00am CST                 Mentors and Groups Introduction

Day 3: Monday, 7th                                                                                              

8:00-8:15am CST                    Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                Writing Workshop

Day 4: Tuesday, 8th                                                                                              

8:00-8:15am CST                    Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                Literature Seminar

10:15am-11:45am CST      Special Seminar #1

Day 5: Wednesday, 9th                                                                                       

8:00-8:15am CST                    Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                Writing Workshop

Day 6: Thursday, 10th                                                                                          

8:00-8:15am CST                     Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                 Literature Seminar

10:15am-11:45am CST        Special Seminar #2

Day 7: Friday, 11th                                                                                                

8:00-8:15am CST                    Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                  Writing Workshop

Day 8: Saturday, 12th                                                                                          

8:00-10:00am CST                  Open Mic!

Day 9: Sunday, 13th                                                                                             

8:00am-10:00am CST            Mentors’ Reading @ Prairie Lights

Day 10: Monday, 14th                                                                                          

8:00-8:15am CST                      Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                  Writing Workshop

Day 11: Tuesday, 15th                                                                                        

8:00-8:15am CST                      Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                  Literature Seminar

10:15am-11:45am CST         Special Seminar #3

Day 12: Wednesday, 16th                                                                                 

8:00-8:15am CST                       Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                   Writing Workshop

Day 13: Thursday, 17th                                                                                      

8:00-8:15am CST                       Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                   Literature Seminar

10:15am-11:45am CST          Special Seminar #4

Day 14: Friday, 1th                                                                                                

8:00-8:15am CST                      Daily Meeting

8:15-10:00am CST                    Writing Workshop

Day 15: Saturday, 19th                                                                                       

8:00-10:00am CST                      Graduation


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