Monday, May 26, 2014

The CAWP Summer Institute Retreat

As you drive to Kenyon College on Wednesday, you may begin (or continue) to wonder what you have gotten yourself into by signing up for the CAWP Summer Institute. Why are you driving off into the wilds of Ohio to spend 3 days and 2 nights with total strangers? Will you have a roommate? Will your roommate snore? How (un)comfortable are the beds? If this isn’t camping, why do you need to bring sheets, towels and soap? Why do we need to go away anyway? What is going to happen during the Retreat?

The answer to all those questions is that many wonderful things will happen during our Retreat from Wednesday, June 11 (beginning with check in at 12:15 pm) until Friday, June 13 (ending at about 11:30 am).

Community will happen…

 We will get to know each other through our archeological digs. There is time to set these up in our meeting space in Peirce Hall on the day we arrive; but then, on our second day, we will spend time looking through them with post-it notes in hand so that we can ask questions of each other, commenting and connecting with others’ journeys and lives.

We will get to know each other through our writing. At times throughout each day there will be time to share some of your writing with the whole group. Not everyone will share—some of you will feel too shy, a little unsure still of the reception your writing will receive. But many of you will share your writing and be rewarded with the laugh, the sigh, the tear wiped away as your words connect with others.

Enjoying a meal at Peirce Dining Hall
We will also get to know each other by rooming together. Although everyone will have their own room, within each apartments there are four or five separate bedrooms. So you will be seeing each other passing in the halls, visiting with each other in the evenings in the common area, sharing the bathrooms. You will also get to know each other through our shared meals in Peirce Dining Hall, drinks at the pub, and a trip to the campus books store.

Writing will happen…

Our very first activity on Wednesday after we settle into our meeting space at Peirce Hall is a getting to know each other scavenger hunt. After telling each other stories we will spend some time writing about the stories we have told and heard. Later that same day we will do some brainstorming and writing about our Summer Institute theme—Talk, Texts and Thought: Teachers as Intellectuals and Agents of Change.

Reading archeological digs
On Thursday we will spend time a large chunk of time writing short notes to each other as we look at archaeological digs. The digs will remain up for the rest of the Retreat so that you can return to them or visit ones you missed initially. At the end of the Retreat, everyone will pack up their digs and take them home, perhaps spending some time during the weekend looking through the questions and comments of your fellows.

Later that same Thursday, we will send you out to walk around campus, seeking inspiring and interesting places to soak up. This is a restful time for walking, reflecting and, if you’re not too tired out, perhaps a little writing.

Finally, on Friday, we will do some responding and writing to our readings as well as some final writing as we reflect on the Retreat in the form of cardboard testimonials. There is also a surprise treat that you may spend some time with, both reading and writing.

Clarification will happen…

Much of our day on Wednesday is about getting to know each other and thinking about our theme; likewise, on Friday, much of our time is spent reflecting on our theme and our experiences so far. Thursday, however, is a day of clarification. On Thursday we sign up for writing groups and rehashes; we explore what feedback to writers might look like in our writing groups and discuss what a rehash is. We take a close look at the critical teaching project and determine our topics. We also review the writing that is expected by the end of the Summer Institute including the multigenre/modal project, the anthology writing and opportunities to post writing with e-anthology and with our own CAWP blog.

Magic will happen this summer as it does every summer…

Richard Wright from Liberal Arts
posing with CAWPers
Kenyon is a magical place that is full of stories. The night the lights went out and Kevin lost his room….The day they were filming the movie, Liberal Arts, in our meeting space and we had to be silent while they recorded dialogue….The summer of the tornadoes and thunderstorms when many huddled in their basements or lower floor bathrooms waiting for the sirens to end…Sitting on Charlie’s front porch watching the butterflies winking on and off on a warm June evening….



What magical story will we tell of your Retreat?