Statement of PurposeTo improve research and writing instruction by traveling to England, France, Germany and Italy to study ancestral culture and history, participating in creative writing classes and composing and publishing original works based on these experiences.
ProposalI would use this award to immerse myself in the research and writing process to improve my instruction. I believe students need to see their teachers as mentors. By showing students that I am a writer, they can begin to see themselves as writers. Before travelling, I will participate in writing workshops to improve my own craft. Next, I will further my research of the cultural, historical and religious identities of my ancestors by traveling to their homelands. During my travels, a blog will be used to disseminate journal entries about my experiences and research findings. Additionally, through the creation of narrative prose, each step of the writing process will be disseminated through the blog as a resource for my students. By engaging myself in this meaningful and authentic research and writing, I hope to greatly improve my research and writing instruction by sharing my stories and experiences throughout the process.
A lifelong interest in my lineage and cultural identity was sparked by my maternal grandparents who told stories of their parents’ immigration to the United States. My first travel goal is to explore national archives and continue the research of my family’s history in each country, through places like the Archives Departementales du Bas-Rhin and the Archivio Centrale dello Stato in Rome. In each country, I will spend a day researching in the archives looking for clues to my family. These findings will be the catalyst for my creative writing.
The second goal is to engage myself in rich cultural, historical and religious experiences with visits to carefully chosen museums, monuments and churches in each city. My travel will be broken into two, three week trips. First, I will explore my paternal grandfather’s lineage in London and Oxford, England where I will tour major sights, such as Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Oxford Museum of Natural History. In Paris and Alsace, France, I will explore my paternal grandmother’s lineage with visits to places such as the Louvre, Petit France, and the Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris and Strasbourg. During the second trip, I will explore my maternal lineage with visits to Hannover and Oldenburg, Germany where I will delve into the history and culture with visits to the Lower Saxony State Museum, Herrenhausen Palace Museum and Gardens, and Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte. To honor my grandmother, a pillar of strength and beauty in my life, I will travel to Italy, starting in Rome, a place she always wanted to visit but never was able. I will visit the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Vatican, as well as other museums, cathedrals and architectural sites. To fulfil her lifelong dream of visiting her parents’ birthplaces, I will travel to Castel di Ieri, a small village in Abruzzo, the birthplace of my great-grandfather whom I was lucky to know as a child. My last stop will be in Chiauci, a small village in Molise, the birthplace of my great grandmother. While in these small communal villages, I will explore the town but will also use familial connections to meet extended family who are still there.
In conclusion, this award would grant me the opportunity to meaningfully engage in research and writing that can inspire not only my own learning, but also my students.
DisseminationOne of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman said, “We owe it to each other to tell stories.” Through this award, I would have the opportunity to grow as a writer, researcher and teacher, but also help my students see themselves as writers and share their own stories. With this in mind, my proposal fully integrates dissemination through the use of a blog where I will share lessons I create based on my writing classes, the written and pictorial journal entries of my experiences while traveling, the different parts of my writing process, and the final narrative fiction and nonfiction created as a result of the research and travel. All of this would be available as an enduring resource for students and educators.
First, I will participate in two creative writing workshops through the Visual Arts Center to help improve my own writing and instruction. The short story class is designed to help students integrate narrative elements into writing and understand how to begin, evaluate, revise and edit their own short fiction. The memoir workshop provides strategies for writing about one’s life and experiences. Each class would better prepare me to document my experiences in Europe as I explore the writing process, as well as become a better writer and model for my students. The classes would also help me create better writing lessons plans. Using the blog, I would document all of the learning from these workshops, the writing that resulted from these classes, as well as the lesson plans created using the workshop material. These will be used as a reference for students as they embark on the writing process, and for other teachers as they prepare lessons to teach writing and research
During my travels, I will maintain a daily journal on the blog to document my travels and research so that students, parents and colleagues can follow my journey. Using a GoPro, a lightweight, wearable and mountable camera, I will visually document my experiences in each city. These images, paired with my writing will help students visualize my experiences and the ways experiences and images can influence writing. In the future, the images can be paired with writing prompts for students before I share the writing I generated from the experience. I will also include images of records and documents found in my research. All of this would serve as the impetus and brainstorming for my creative prose, but also as writing models and resources for lesson plans.
From the journal entries, I would craft short fiction and short memoir essays. Each piece of the writing process, including brainstorming, revisions and final drafts, would be shared with students via the blog. Students will see that the writing and research process is not a linear process, but a messy and recursive process that requires constant revision. By making my process available for students, they would be able see that no one writes perfectly the first time, and that writing requires time, patience and hard work.
Additionally, I would use the blog to publish the fiction and nonfiction works that evolve out of my experiences and research once I return home. These would be available as a resource for teachers, as well as for other adults and children to read for pleasure.