IICS has a tradition of inviting experts in different fields to our school to work with our students and staff. This year is no exception. So far we have hosted musicians (Ayo Sonko, African Drummer and SOAS Ceilidh Band), actors (Daniel Foley), authors (Anna Wilson) with more experts to come in the following months…

Following on the heels of our CELEBRATE OUR READING week, we invited Dr. Donna Jo Napoli to provide student workshops and more.

Author of more than 50 Young Adult novels, elementary novels, and picture books for early readers, Dr. Napoli has taught linguistics at Smith College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgetown University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and is currently a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College (#3 ranked university in the US, according to Forbes).

Dr. Napoli received both her BA and PhD from Harvard, before a postdoctoral fellowship in linguistics at MIT.

The week kicked off with a writer’s workshop for IICS students, staff, and our larger community on Sunday, March 8th. The event, held at the scenic venue of BUMED overlooking the Rumeli Hisar castle ramparts, was an all day event who participants ranged in age from 12 to mid 50s. The event was active, informative, and useful for all participants involved, who said they enjoyed the environment where each writer–regardless of age– was given the same attention and respect for their contributions.

During her week at IICS, Dr. Napoli held workshops with students across the school, with grade by grade workshops. Dr. Napoli commented on her experience:

From the tiniest folk through the high school, I found the students at IICS lively and responsive.  They are always ready to consider others’ ideas and to discuss their own, and in an atmosphere of complete respect.  That feeling permeates the school.  The teachers are inviting and encouraging, both to visitors (like me) and to the students.  There is nothing better than seeing a smiling, nodding face when I am facing a group of people I don’t know and presenting ideas that might be controversial — and at IICS there were many such faces. We did writing workshops and the students happily consulted with each other, gave feed back to each other, and raced along on their own creations.

By the end of the week, students had begun creating stories and poetry in writing workshops, contributed to writing prompts along the hallway displays, and some braver souls even joined our new Poetry Cafe. Set up in the library, students came during lunchtime to eat and share their writing. Though performing one’s writing can be nerve wracking, students quite enjoyed the event and asked for more Poetry Cafe events in the future. Dr. Napoli enjoyed the Poetry Cafe as well…

Perhaps the highlight of my visit (or, really, one of so many) was the writers’ cafe on the last day.  Students shared original work that simply made me dizzy with admiration.  But what I loved most was how very kind they were to each other’s offerings.  Sharing your poetry or stories is an intimate event, really — and they did it forthrightly, knowing they could trust each other.  It was beautiful. I’m so very grateful I had the privilege of visiting IICS.