“Every person on this planet has a story to tell, something that makes them unique adding to the whole.” (Madisyn Taylor)
Everyone has a story to tell, and by sharing stories, we build communities and mutual trust. To strengthen that idea, CultureLink’s Settlement Worker in Schools Program (SWIS) arranged six online creative writing sessions for women. The objective was to break the isolation of newcomer women, build their confidence through writing and sharing their stories from past and present, and get them motivated to fulfill their aspirations in their new homeland, Canada.
Umbereen Inayat, a national award-winning Artistic Director and Curator, and the producer of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche for many years, facilitated the sessions. Under her guidance, a program was planned with creative writing topics intended to maximize opportunities for newcomer women.
Fifteen newcomer women attended the six sessions. Each week participants wrote on the new topic suggested by Umbereen. The enthusiasm of the group was felt from the first session. Soon the group built a great connection among themselves which continued until the end of the session. “We wait every week for the session”, participants commented. “This one hour is for me”.
Throughout the workshop, all the women were able to build a positive and supportive connection with their fellow participants. They shared their personal stories and learned from each other’s experiences. Each session provided them with encouragement and guidance to continue their new journey in Canada. A key impact of the program was that each and every one of the participating women decided to focus on their career and educational goals for the rest of the year. They were also committed to keep in touch with each other and to pay it forward by reaching out to others in the community who are new and isolated.
Each participant received a certificate of completion for the online creative writing session. We would like to thank Shoppers Drug Mart for their support and the gift cards!
Excerpts from the writing group
Have you ever imagined a perfect life, it has everything that you wanted and you are so comfortable living the life you imagined! There was a phase in my life I was so happy and comfortable with my life, my job, my daily routine and was balancing my work-family life so well. I never knew that it won’t last. The time came when I had to decide to leave all those favourite routine things and I had to make a new start when I came to Canada. Everything was so new, so uncomfortable without my favourite routine. I was so depressed and disappointed with that.
No matter how comfortable your life is one day will come when you will get bored from that same routine!
Maybe the new struggle has new experiences, new people, the new place could be beautiful also and if I will skip this new chapter of my life, I might regret it later on. It was so required to keep my life evolving and interesting! So now I am trying to be happy with what I have now 🙂
– H. T.
A Letter to my Younger Self
Dear Younger Self,
Today, I have tried to review my early-aged memory to identify my hobby during my school life which I used to enjoy much. At last, I have identified the hobby that I was, still, I am, and hope I will be, a great lover of reciting poetry. Through this letter, I would like to share my joy and happiness with you.
During the last year, in the COVID-19 situation, I have actually used reading poems as a coping strategy to address this isolated situation and keeping me and my husband mentally happy. I am happy now that I love reading and reciting poems till today
“Thank you for arranging this wonderful series of sessions. They have been so enlightening and the highlight of each week. We have bonded very closely over the last few weeks. It’s been a magical journey.” – S.S
“Thank you so much for giving me a chance to join. My favourite part was the session about ‘favourite person or place and how they impact your life. I am very thankful for such a beautiful and talented group of new friends.” – B.S.
“The writing sessions inspired us to go inside our heart and helped in putting out the things which were hidden somewhere…we shared everything which probably couldn’t share it with anyone. The topics were amazing! Please keep up the good work.” – H.V.
“Classes were well planned and had great involvement. Individual attention and participation were given to each of the participants. I had a healthy atmosphere to develop my communication skills. After a few sessions, I have become much more confident. All the students in this online class have become a family.” – R. G
“I am very much glad to be a part of these sessions. All the sessions were very good, I especially liked the last session “where I want to see myself in future”. I am blissful to get such nice and helpful friends.” -A. S.
“Going deep within oneself and writing about the innermost feelings was a perfect way to understand one’s deeper self. The workshop not just focused on writing but presenting what we wrote made it extra special. Listening to other participant’s experiences was really inspiring and motivating. Six weeks flew by rather quickly, I look forward to more such workshops. Best wishes.” – S. M.