This past week I had the pleasure of being a Resident Adviser and Teacher’s Assistant at Messiah College’s Young Writer’s Workshop. The teens arrived on Sunday and went straight to their first writing class. There were three groups based on age and writing level. I was placed in the intermediate group of tenth and eleventh graders. I cannot even begin to explain how talented these students were. They demonstrated wisdom beyond their years and a knack for language through poetry and prose.
My primary job was similar to that of a camp counselor. I, along with five other RAs, woke up the students in the morning, made sure they attended meals and classes, supervised evening activities, and enforced lights-out hours. In addition to my RA job, I also got to be a teacher’s assistant to Tara Whitehead, the intermediate writing professor. Not only is she a Communication and English Professor, she also wrote for the first season of the Big Bang Theory!
Even though the week was short, we got a lot of writing in. Tara motivated the kids to write with prompts including: a modern twist on a fairy tale; a good-bye letter you never got to say; a dialogue that demonstrates a shift in relationship; a short story in which the location influences character’s psychology. Although their writing talent was superb, we also discovered many new skills at ourtalent show. We got to see stellar performances from a piano composer, a flute player, several singers, and a stand-up comedian.
We celebrated out last day with an outing to Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. Our visit included a tour of the Harrisburg Art Museum, a museum activity creating our own sculptures of the Susquehanna River and piecing them together, lunch catered by Yellowbird Café, and exploring the rare and used bookstore Midtown Scholar. If you haven’t had the pleasure of getting lost in Midtown Scholar, it is a breathtaking experience. The shop consists of three floors, hidden nooks and crannies, and the biggest collection of books I’ve ever seen.
When we returned to campus, the students read some of their writing to their parents. Hearing their polished pieces showed me how far they came in just a few days. If you know a young writer with a desire to improve ability in creative writing, Messiah’s got a program for you!