On June 13-19, a group of writers gathered at the Collegeville Institute for a new workshop led by Enuma Okoro. The workshop, titled Exploring Identity and (Dis)belonging through the Personal Essay: A week of creative nonfiction with Enuma Okoro, addressed questions of identity, belonging, home, displacement, and marginalization. This workshop introduced participants to traditional and modern personal essays. Students read selections from writers spanning historical times periods, nations and cultures (including Dina Nayeri, Zadie Smith, James Baldwin, and Carlos Fuentes). Participants spent time workshopping each other’s work, discussing sterling examples of the personal essay, and meeting one-on-one with Enuma Okoro.
When asked about insights gained during the workshop, one participant reflected, “Amazingly, this is the first time that I’ve been in workshop with people of color and people of faith. It has been so wonderful and eye-opening. I’ve needed this community of readers and writers for a long time, and now I see how important it is to find and participate in a community of writers who share my struggles/experiences with identity and disbelonging.”
Another remarked: “Enuma was an excellent group leader and facilitator. She is generous and gracious in her feedback, genuinely interested and invested in the participants, and passionate about creating a welcoming space for everyone’s stories and writing.”