Teaching Memoir for Peace and Justice
A Two-Semester Practicum in Teaching the Herstory Way
Can a story make a difference? Can a story change our world? These are the questions that founder and artistic director Erika Duncan and her small cohort of facilitators have been asking each new writer, ever since Herstory began, every time a new workshop was formed, whether in a school, in a jail or in the community.
In order to ensure that an increasing number of current and emerging teachers, human rights activists and community organizers interested in working with vulnerable populations in alternative settings would have access to the pedagogy and tools that Herstory has developed, in 2016 we initiated a training institute in partnership with Hofstra University’s Center for Civic Engagement. In 2019, we will be expanding into Suffolk County in partnership with the Humanities Institute of Stony Brook University so that a new cohort will begin training every six months.
Each new cohort spends its first semester in a 13-week practicum that combines a hands-on workshop with an intensive immersion in the Herstory pedagogy. During the second semester participant are assigned individually tailored, supervised field placements with institutions, community and advocacy groups partnering with Herstory and the Center, according to their interests and skills sets.
In the spring of 2017, these placements include: two after school “Youth Writing for Justice” programs-- one at LIU Post, bringing in students from Westbury High School, and another at Mineola High School, offered in Spanish in partnership with Adelphi University; a workshop in Spanish for young people who just crossed the border; a workshop bringing together perpetrators and victims of gun violence in partnership with the Martin Luther King Center of Long Beach: a workshop for girls incarcerated at Rikers Island: and a “Story Clinic” to generate student writings to help counter the rise in racism, anti-Semitism, violence and hatred, to protect refugees, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community on the campus of Hofstra University.
In the spring of 2018, placements include: a workshop for girls incarcerated at Rikers Island (entering its second year); a new workshop for families of the incarcerated mentally ill, in partnership with NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness; a new afterschool workshop with Nassau BOCES twilight program bringing students from an alternative high school in Baldwin to the campus of Adelphi University; a new workshop with Carecen for DACA Dreamers; a new workshop at Collegiate High School in Brooklyn, through the Sports and Arts Foundation, Herstory is starting its first Brooklyn after school program; a workshop on the campus of Adelphi University to provide empowerment and healing for students in its mentoring program.
Following graduation from the institute, a limited number of paid opportunities will be offered to participants who wish to continue to teach in the program.