From a press release:
From June 25 to July 9, Lily Sickles, a student at Columbia High School, will travel to Iowa City, IA, a UNESCO City of Literature and home of the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop, to take part in Between the Lines (BTL), a creative writing and cultural exchange program for promising young writers.
Sickles is one of 32 students selected for this session of BTL, which brings together young writers from nine Arabic-speaking countries and territories, 10 U.S. states, and six cities across the Russian Federation. During the two-week program, Sickles will participate in intensive writing workshops and seminars, attend literary events, and have an opportunity to give a public reading of her work.
“Through world literature classes, writing workshops, and a variety of seminars—including digital storytelling and slam poetry—students explore how literature and writing can lead to empathy, dialogue, and a shared understanding of the human condition,” said Cate Dicharry, the BTL coordinator.
Sickles will work closely with established writers including Alisa Ganieva, a writer, literary critic, and editor originally from Dagestan, Russian Federation; Dora Malech, a poet, visual artist, and faculty member at Johns Hopkins University; and Egyptian-Canadian novelist and playwright Karim Alrawi whose novel Book of Sands (2015) won the HarperCollins/UBC Best New Fiction Prize.
“It may seem strange to say, but in a shrinking world with rising conflict there are few activities more important than telling stories,” said Alrawi. “Stories entertain, sometimes explain, but the best of them engage and humanize the unfamiliar while extending the reader’s capacity for empathy and understanding. For a better world we need better stories, well told.”
Since 1967, the International Writing Program has hosted more than 1,400 writers from more than 140 countries, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, publishing books and journals, pursuing cultural diplomacy, and organizing tours, conferences, and other events around the world. BTL is a part of IWP’s programming and is sponsored through grant funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department.