The Summer Institute is a new immersive two-week creative writing and cultural exchange program held in Iowa City, Iowa, for participants aged 18-22 from Pakistan, India, and the United States. This interdisciplinary program focuses on creative writing and the power of narrative, and is designed to forge intercultural communication and understanding between Pakistani, Indian, and American participants; address misconceptions and sociocultural conflict between participants, with a focus on conflict resolution; cultivate lasting notions of diversity, empathy, and community; and promote positive U.S. narratives and perspectives through person-to-person relationships. Students from all disciplines – the arts, humanities, sciences, and everything in between – are welcome to apply!
Central to this program is an intent to shape young people who are, or can become, critical thought- and opinion-makers in their societies. To this end, Summer Institute participants will be approached as future leaders in any number of fields, and programming will be developed based not only on creative writing teaching methods, but The Social Change Model of Leadership Development, which promotes the values of equity, social justice, self-knowledge, personal empowerment, collaboration, citizenship, and service, and is designed “to enhance the development of leadership qualities in all participants—those who hold formal leadership positions but also those who do not, those who are disempowered—and to promote a process that is inclusive.” Participants will come to see their writing as a form of action—a skill that can be employed for social change. Session programming will also embolden participants to consider specific ways their writing can further the human rights and social issues they wish to affect in their home countries.
During the two weeks of Summer Institute programming, mornings will be spent in master classes led by experts in various fields with a focus on creative writing and narrative. Master classes—two-to-three hour sessions on a particular aspect of writing, identity, communication, or study—allow for the widest possible array of topics, and a schedule tailored to the participants. Afternoons will be reserved for generative writing sessions led by faculty mentors, as well as panels and discussions designed to work through discussion of identity and cultural biases, and promote team-building and collaboration. Evening programming may include literary readings, open mic nights, movies, special workshops focused on slam poetry, screenwriting, graphic novels, or other topics, as well as free time to write and socialize. As part of mid-session programming, participants will spend an afternoon at Lake Macbride State Park, where they may swim, paddle boat, share a picnic lunch, and enjoy the outdoors together.