Old Dominion University
A to Z Index  |  Directories

College of Arts and Letters

MFA in Creative Writing

Writers in Community

Overview | FAQ | Communities


Writers in Community is a non-profit program dedicated to helping the diverse communities of Hampton Roads by cultivating literacy and creativity. A branch of the Old Dominion University Creative Writing Program, Writers in Community works in cooperation with local organizations to reach out to children and adults who can benefit from the opportunity to express themselves artistically. By introducing people to the pleasures of reading and writing, Writers in Community promotes literacy, self-esteem, and self-expression.

The name Writers in Community embodies the program's main goal, which is to establish a group of writers who work as a community in the community. The WIC interns are qualified M.F.A. students in creative writing who share a knowledge of literature and a love of writing. Many of these graduate students also teach English classes at Old Dominion University and are experienced educators and mentors. Each internship is designed to meet the needs of a specific community. Interns can lead group workshops, work with individual writers, serve as writers-in-residence, lead discussions, coordinate literary festivals or other literary events, and act as a creative resource.

Writers in Community at Old Dominion University began with the work of Paul Sznewajs, a graduate student who initiated a volunteer artist-in-residence writing program for the patients at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters. He modeled his efforts after the New Horizons program at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. In the United States today, there are over fifty similar artist-in-residence programs serving various communities, such as schools, hospitals, and YMCAs.

Support for such programs has increased as people begin to recognize their potential benefits. The President's Commission on the Arts and Humanities has confirmed the link between the arts and personal development by concluding that exposure to and awareness of the arts empowers people of all ages and backgrounds. WritersCorps, a division of the AmeriCorps National Service Network, uses "the power of literary expression to clarify thinking, sharpen identity, nurture self-esteem, and offer creative expression as an alternative to the violence, substance abuse, and despair plaguing urban society." Hospital artist-in-residence programs like New Horizons have helped to reduce patients' recovery time. In the same way, Writers in Community hopes to provide a necessary and valuable outlet for the local community.

For additional information contact the Graduate Program Director.