Hamilton High School’s Hannah Miao was looking for something to do over the summer. Ideally, it would be something that embraced her creative side.
She found exactly what she was looking for; Miao is participating in a creative writing workshop at the University of Iowa called Between the Lines, a program that brings together young, talented writers of various cultural backgrounds.
Between the Lines, founded in 2008, is a part of Iowa’s International Writing Program that brings together writers from the ages of 16 to 19 from the Unites States, Russia and Arabic-speaking countries.
“For the kids, this age their world views aren’t set yet, so in some ways they’re much more open into meeting people from different cultures,” said Kelly Morse, coordinator of Between the Lines.
For Miao, the experience is twofold. The first one is obvious, but she also looks forward to the other kids with whom she will be working.
“I hope to improve my writing abilities, but I also hope to gain a greater appreciation of international writers and their writing styles,” she said. “I want to form new friendships with the other writers there, and I hope to learn more about other cultures.”
Writing was a natural progression for Miao, whose love of literature is what first spawned her creative instincts.
“I’ve always enjoyed reading, so it was just a natural progression for me to start writing,” she said. “There wasn’t a particular time when I first noticed that I liked writing; I feel as if it’s always been a part of me.”
That love of the written word is what prompted her to apply for Between the Lines. She had to complete a questionnaire and submit a piece of her written work as an application.
When she found out she had been selected, she was ecstatic. In particular, she was thrilled to know who would be her instructors: poet Kiki Petrosino, a professor at the University of Louisville; Alan Cherchesov, an accomplished Russian novelist; and Lebanese screenwriter and novelist Iman Humaydan.
Morse said it is very important to bring together such a diverse group of instructors because it helps to expose the participants to different styles of writing as well as acting as a catalyst for more beneficial cultural exchange.
For Miao, writing is a form of freedom, a creative playground where she can let her imagination flow. It’s that love of writing that has led her from Chandler to Iowa City, Iowa.
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