International Writers' Club
For the last several years, Anne P. Copeland, Ph.D. (Executive Director of The Interchange Institute) has been meeting with small groups of parents from the local school system in our town, Brookline, MA. Brookline is a wonderfully international community; one elementary school boasts 50 different passport countries among its 450 students. She wanted to give newcomer parents a chance to discuss the cultural differences they encountered and to practice their written and spoken English. They also wanted to share the group's insights with the whole school community, so the American parents and teachers would learn about the cultural issues facing their new neighbors. Meetings were supported by funds from The Brookline Community Fund and The Brookline Center.
Prior to every meeting, two or three parents would forward a short essay to Anne about some practical cultural difference they had observed.
They were asked to answer three questions in their essays:
She made any needed grammatical corrections and distributed the essays to the rest of the members. When the group gathered together at the Writer's Club meeting, they spent their time discussing the cultural issues and insights. They discussed word choice and connotation, differing perspectives from the same and different cultures, historical roots of differences, frustrations, and admiration. What had started out as a description of some practical aspect of life with a child turned into a revealing look at profoundly important and deep cultural differences.
Later, Anne wrote a short reply from the American point of view, and these essays and replies were published in the school newsletter. In this way, the entire school community got a glimpse of these parents' insights and views, and had a basis for welcoming international newcomers. Teachers and American parents appreciated hearing about these cultural differences, and other international parents said they valued having a way to have a voice at the school.
These essays collectively give a sense of the challenges newcomers to the US face as they struggle to raise their children according to the values they cherish while opening their lives to the experience of living in a new culture.
Read some samples of essays along with comments for each one,
We are now beginning a "Virtual Writer's Club," for international writers around the US who would like to discuss and write about cultural issues. Just follow the simple steps below. Welcome to the Writer's Club!
Virtual Writer's Club Instructions
3) If you would like to add to, comment on, or disagree or agree with any of the posted essays and replies, let us hear from you too!
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