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Discovering imagination through creative writing

In this week’s post, Justine Carnec (our awesome Program Assistant intern from France) tells us about the joy of sharing the gift of writing in her creative writing course. Justine has been working with local volunteer, Francesco, to unlock children’s imaginations through storytelling as part of our Saturday club.

If you have a passion for creative writing, please sponsor the creative writing club. For a $25 donation, we will send you a digital copy of each of the children’s original stories!  

Sponsor HOOP’s creative writing course

One of the greatest opportunities given by HOOP to their volunteers and interns, to my mind, is that you can put your deepest passions at the service of the young children living in the Flora Tristán community, in order for both of you to be happy in the end.

My passion has been reading and writing for years. Since I was thirteen years old, I’ve been really keen on writing my own stories, creating my own characters, as well as the imaginary lands they lived in, places where they would be able to challenge reality in order to make us all dream a little more.

However, a passion is even more exciting when it’s shared, and I really wanted to give mine to the kids in Flora Tristán (at least to some of them). This is why we created the creative writing Saturday program: because I really wanted them to realise how exciting reading and writing can be, and how important it is, as well.

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I’m glad I had the opportunity to do it, and to run these workshops, with the help of Francesco, one of the teachers at HOOP. Because, although the kids don’t write nor hear stories very often, it didn’t take long before they realised they loved it. And, in spite of the fact that they often need help to start writing a story of their own (what would you say yourself if you were told “OK, now, write a story.”?), once they have ideas, they don’t like to be stopped before they’re done, and I often had to leave school much later than I had expected to.

I really think these creative writing classes help the children a lot with their imagination. It actually sounds funny to me when I recall our first class; me asking them “Do you have any idea for magical or extraordinary animals?”, and a bunch of them answering “a chicken” or “a dog”.

It sounds funny to me, because, now, they’re able to create their own extraordinary animal.

It might sound like it’s a very childish activity, but the real goal I aim to achieve with them is both much simpler and more important. Let me explain a little more about that.

Education is a very big issue in Peru. On the international ranking, is is one of the worst countries in terms of education. Despite that, increasing and improving the level of education of the Peruvian people has not been a priority for Peruvian governments.

Here’s a fact: if you want to buy a new book, you’ll have to pay the same price as the one you would pay in Western European countries. Given that the average French salary is almost four times as high as the average Peruvian salary, one might find it curious.

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Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not pretending that by running creative writing classes, I’m changing these children’s future. Nor am I saying that I was going to make writers out of them (especially since I’m not a writer myself). I’m just trying to pour some magic into their world, and to make them want to read and write more.

Why? Because I believe that the more they read, the more they will be able to understand our world, think for themselves, and not be afraid to question people in power or challenge the status quo.

I’m doing my best to help the students realise something: words have a great power, both for those who write or say them and on those who read or hear them.

Hopefully, these kids will want to see, learn and use more of those words after the end of the creative writing series. Hopefully, after the end of the course, they will feel excited enough about it to ask their parents for a book for their birthday.

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Written by Justine Carnec

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