The American Center in Belgrade

This was the second day of the Belgrade Creative Writing Camp and it was amazing. Last night, this guy brought a group of ten teenagers into the American Corners who belong to a club that has a stipulation of membership that you have no parents taking care of you.  There are other stipulations of age as well, but that first one can be a real shocker. They came in together and the leader explained that there would be more tonight, but there was a rugby game final that they were in so some of the guys would miss the first day.

We started working on Haiku from our books on Haiku and then they began to write their own as they build the hut of a great Haiku master from Japan.  They were great and soon laughing and talking with each other.  Then the pizza came. As a former debate squad coach and presently a coach of UHD’s Model UN Team, I can promise you that pizza (or the cheese on the pizza) is the glue needed for all student organizations. And it seems that the long-time leader understands what we do, the universal binding nature of this wonderful food invented just one peninsula away from the peninsular that is The Balkans.

This morning the children made hearts and told us what was in their hearts. And the answers are wonderful:

There is a bunny in my heart

My lost dog is in my heart

My brother is in my heart.

from the wonderful blog thirteen red shoes

Then we put sleeping masks on the students and drew the configuration that is their profile so they could write what is in their head.  I thought of this concept from looking at Eighteenth Century children’s cut-out portraits done in black paper. PPS announces that “Adventure requires a trusted friend” and this is, in part, a test of trust. Does the child trust the counselor enough to allow the counselor to take away an important protective aid (sight) in order to protect those eyes?  It was wonderful.  The children were so excited about what was going on.  They loved that their counselors were giving them an outline of their actual head. They loved the attention, and they wrote wonderful works about what lives in their heads and hearts.

What would it take to put a bunny in your heart, metaphorically speaking?

by Merrilee Cunningham, Writers in the Schools

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