Summer Institute FAQ for Pakistani & Indian Students



How much does it cost to apply? 

There is no fee to apply.

How much does it cost to attend? 

There are no costs associated with the virtual program.


What exactly are you looking for in a student? 

First and foremost, we want someone who is passionate about creative writing. In the writing samples we want to see what best represents you as a writer today. Given our belief that in order to write, you have to read, we expect you to be an avid reader as well. You don't necessarily have to have received perfect grades in your English or literature classes, nor will we make you quote U.S., Indian, or Pakistani authors at will.  

Since you will be spending a lot of time with fellow students, teachers, and staff from different countries and cultures, it's very important that you be open to learning about the many different ways people live in the world and willing to share your own life experiences and unique point of view. Our ultimate goal is to create a community of friends that will continue to support each other in their creative efforts long after the end of the program. 

This program is designed to be a two-week exploration of self and the other, of participants’ identities and their relations with one another, of personal and national histories and lived realities. This may be accompanied by moments or extended periods of confusion, discomfort, and even personal trial. On the other hand, such exploration can be a growth experience and a learning opportunity. It could even be transformative. All these possibilities are normal and, in many ways, to be expected. It is important that you, as an applicant, be aware of the kind of program to which you are applying.  

How old do I have to be to participate? 

All selected participants must be at least 18 years old and not 23 or older on the day the program begins, 5 June 2021.

Do I have to know another language to participate? 

All students from India, Pakistan, and the U.S. are required to be proficient in English in all forms (reading, writing, and speaking). Knowledge of another language is not required, but it is a definite plus, particularly if you are currently studying another language, or if you grew up in a home or community where different languages are regularly used. There will be a lot of cross-translation going on! 

I want to apply to the Summer Institute session as an international student, but I do not live in any of the countries listed for 2021. Can I still apply? 

Pakistan, India, and the United States have been carefully chosen for this particular program. Only citizens of those countries are allowed to apply. That said, if you are a citizen of one of the three countries, but you do not reside in that country, you are likely still eligible to apply (for example, if you are currently an international student studying abroad). Please contact the IWP Summer Institute Coordinator if you have questions. The Summer Institute may one day expand to additional countries. 

Can I include work from different languages in my writing samples? 

All students must submit their writing samples in English. Throughout the Summer Institute, there will be opportunities to utilize any knowledge you have of other languages through collaborative translation activities. 

I'm a teacher who would like to send a recommendation letter for a student. Are there any guidelines I should follow? 

Recommendation letters are not required for applications to this program. If you still feel you would like to submit one, simply tell us why you think the student would be a good fit for the program. 

How do you select students for the program? 

A selection committee reviews all applications and supplemental materials and determines the final group of participants. 

When will you notify applicants about your decision? 

All applicants – those who have been selected and those who have not – will be notified either in the month of April (or possibly early May). This is a busy time, so applicants should be patient and wait to hear from the IWP whether or not they have been selected.

In my writing sample, can I include the same story and/or poem in two different languages? 

No. Each work submitted should be original and untranslated. 

Can I include essays, university newspaper articles, or blog entries in my writing sample? 

If these contain original fiction, poetry, etc., then yes, it can be included. Otherwise, we are only interested in reading your original writing.  



What is the format of the virtual program?

The two-week Summer Institute will occur virtually. Materials will be available to participants using the University of Iowa’s learning management system, ICON (a version of Canvas). Direct engagement online between participants and program staff will occur primarily through Zoom. Access to reliable internet service and a device on which to engage with the program virtually is needed to participate in the Summer Institute.


Do you offer college credit for this program or the courses taken? 


What will happen during the two-week session? 

After a brief daily meeting, participants will be engaged on weekdays in a variety of mostly two-hour sessions: literature seminars, writing workshops, and special seminars focused on the craft of writing. Sessions on the three weekends of the program will focus on, for example, introducing participants to the Summer Institute, participants reading their original work during an open mic event, and a graduation and closing ceremony to conclude the two-week program. Participants will also have the opportunity to document their experience on assigned days throughout the program. Please visit the Summer Institute 2021 webpage for more details and to see a fuller version of the schedule.

Do you offer writing workshops with focuses on countries other than India and Pakistan? 

The Summer Institute will only offer workshops focused on these countries. 

What can you tell me about the instructors in the program? 

The Summer Institute carefully chooses writers who are also great teachers. Please read the mentors’ bios on the Summer Institute 2021 webpage.

Happening Now

  • A fall harvest of book reviews coming in: of The Others by Sarah BLAU (translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir); of LO Yi-Chin’s Farewell, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy TIANG; of Véronique TADJO’s In the Company of Men

  • A fascinating interview with IWP’s Senior Advisor, professor Peter Nazareth, retired from UI’s English Department in spring 2021, after nearly five decades of teaching.

  • Word reaches us that poet HU Xudong  胡续冬, who also taught comparative and world literatures at Peking University (Beida), specializing in Latin American literatures, passed away unexpectedly. RIP, Hu Xudong…

  • We note with sadness the passing of Hiroshi SAKAGAMI 坂上 弘, whose long novelistic career garnered him major literary and cultural honors. A former president of the Japan Writers’ Association, he was until his retirement also the director of Keio University Press.

  • The poetic documentary Songs Still Sung: Voices from the Tsunami Shores, written and co-produced by Takako ARAI and creatively subtitled into English by a class of UI students of Japanese, will be screened at the prestigious Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, on-line 10/7-14/2021.

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