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International Writing Program: Writing Lives

By Karen Villeda, 2015 Fall Residency Outreach Fellow

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In the course of the fall 2015 semester, in my role as the International Writing Program’s Outreach Fellow, I developed a web-based project, titled INTERNATIONAL WRITING PROGRAM: WRITING LIVES!

First off, the site is a documentary combining text with multimedia (images, videos) generated by some of the IWP 2015 residents. It is also an interactive story where the user chooses his/her own itinerary through a fictional IWP residency, as if he/she were one of the writers.

This project is based on HTML5 and the open source code Twine to generate interactive stories of several writers as characters in conversation. The user can make her/his own adventure at the IWP residency using the different backgrounds of IWP writers related to gender equality, freedom of expression, and human rights. The role player and difficulty rating in the storytelling will be defined by the contexts of the writer chosen and common problematics (migration, violence or gender inequity) related to countries as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Austria, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, Estonia, Philippines, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Togo, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

The 2015 IWP participants were welcome to contribute with a text, image, video, audio and/or other media. This double-sided project is both an exploration of how it is to be an international writer in our times in a City of Literature and a tribute to the International Writing Program. Its story, its objective, its spirit shows in the website. This project intends to capture the many ways of telling the same story: we took different formats and sizes of photographs, we watched differently-gendered films. But we talked the same language: the human language. And we write this experience with our senses: we laugh, we cry, we hug and we comfort each other. Each one of us was a home for every one of us. Our conversation was guided by respect, love and willingness to learn from the other. The Other was Me. Me was the Other. We learned that there was no Other after all. Just We. And We translated this into a beautiful chapbook, which is available online.

The IWP experience is indescribable. You have to live it! 

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