Simon's Rock Writing and Thinking Workshop
Way off in a corner of the Berkshires, near a little town called Great Barrington, on a grassy green hill sits Simon's Rock of Bard College. This summer, the school sponsored two programs - the Foreign Language Instruction and the Writing and Thinking Workshop. I attended the latter, and I had a wonderful time.
Every weekday for about four hours I met with a group of students (who quickly became friends) to talk about writing. We met in a classroom, and then went outside to sit on the lawn where our instructor, Alan, told us that we were leaving behind the rules and judgments of the rest of the world in order to make our writing better.
And we did. We wrote every day, and shared our writing with people who were never critical unless we asked them to be. We read poetry and Plato, and then wrote in response to it. We walked in the woods and the fields around the school for inspiration. For the first time I spent three weeks in the company of people who shared my love of writing.
But there was more than writing at the school. Besides a day trip to Boston and watching Peter, Paul, and Mary perform at Tanglewood on the Fourth of July, there were the everyday opportunities to take the bus into Great Barrington for shopping or a movie, or up to the lake for some swimming. They showed movies in the lecture hall every night, everything from "Monty Python" to "Pump Up the Volume."
I arrived at Simon's Rock expecting to find a lot of people from New England, but I met people from all over the country - from California and Texas to Florida, Alabama and West Virginia. There was also a group of students from the Ivory Coast in Africa who were studying English.
Leaving all of my new friends in July was very difficult, but we rounded out the stay with a Karaoke party in the student union and an all-night, junk food festival in the dorm lounge. It was three of the best weeks of my life, and I came home with a notebook full of new writing and an address book full of new pen pals. The experience was well worth the time and money, and I recommend it to any high school writer who wants to polish his or her skills and have a great time in the bargain.
Review by S. S., Hudson, NH
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.