WriteOn! is an International English language creative writing competition run by Peace Corps volunteers and host country nationals in twenty countries. Girls and boys are invited to participate in this international competition. The competition focuses on increasing the creative writing and thinking skills of students by giving them an opportunity to use their English education in new and exciting ways. WriteOn! aims to spark the imaginations of Indonesian students. There is a national round run by Peace Corps volunteers in each post and an international round run by Peace Corps Georgia. This is the 14th year of the competition and will be the largest yet.
Participants are given two prompts to choose from and one hour to write their responses. At the end, responses are collected and submitted for national judging. After being judged nationally (with 1st through 3rd place in each category) all first place winners are sent to the international round to be judged against other first place entries from around the world. Participants are from 6th -12th grades, all levels of university, and professionals across East Java, West Java, and West Timor.
Traditionally in Indonesia, girls show more interest in competing in writing competitions like WriteOn! While some have more access to participating in competitions like these than others, seldom get the chance to attend conferences centered around bettering their writing and inspiring creativity. Our Conference of Champions is geared towards just that. We want the girls participating to know how valuable writing creatively, bettering their English, and building confidence can mean for their future, allowing our girls in Indonesia to continue to have opportunities to learn.
This is the first year in Peace Corps Indonesia history that the WriteOn! Committee is designing a Conference of Champions for national winners. Through this conference, Indonesian teachers will be able to build capacity in teaching creative writing and critical thinking. Student winners will gain confidence and inspiration to pursue careers in creative writing through a discussion panel with Indonesian authors and deepen their understanding of the creative writing process. Community contribution includes prizes, certificates, workshop leaders, and Indonesian translators. A local university has also signed on to host the event. The champions will attend a diverse and well-structured conference.
Teachers and volunteers have already been working together across the country to prepare students and professionals for the upcoming competition. Community schools will host the local level of WriteOn! and instructors will aid in administering the exams themselves. In addition, a needs assessment survey will be sent to all national winners and their teachers before the Conference of Champions is held to gain critical input on essential conference sessions. A local university has offered to host the Conference of Champions and will provide their staff and students to support the event. We also have established other volunteer support in the community to donate small items for the conference.
We have successfully developed a relationship with a local university who is interested in becoming an ongoing community partner. Other local organizations have also expressed interest in providing speakers or other activities, so community interest is there.
MGMPs and other teacher conferences are cornerstones in ongoing teacher education in Indonesia. The teacher training we provide in the workshop is something that can and is easily spread by one Indonesian teacher to another. English storytelling is a popular competition genre in Indonesia so many English teachers are already looking for better ways to teach creative writing.
Students interested in creative writing often grow up into adults interested in creative writing. Students participating in this workshop might continue to develop their writing skills and possibly enter creative writing fields, especially when this is done using English. Being able to write creatively in another language will also help students in the present and the future to reach across oceans to communicate powerfully with other people in the world.
As part of our program, we are also putting together a handbook so that teachers and other Indonesian partners can organize their own writing workshops. This would include recommendations for lesson plans, activity suggestions, etc. We would share this handbook with teachers participating in the workshop, and they can spread it at MGMPs and other conferences.