“I’m thinking about starting a National Writing Project site at UTA,” Jeannine started, “would you be co-director?”
“Sure,” I responded without hesitation because she had a knack of asking people to do things, and we just couldn’t refuse.
Did I know what NWP was? Heck, no. I was just dipping my toes in the shallow end of the infinity pool that is teaching.
Did I understand what being a co-director of an NWP site meant? Heck, no. How could I? Even if I had been a veteran TC or director at that point, I wouldn’t know. Roles are fluid and flexible in every NWP experience. Responsibilities are shared. Challenge and joy are waves that are parceled out across eager participants.
Did I expect anything to happen to this request made in passing? Heck, no. And that was just plain ignorant of me. It was as if I hadn’t been working with Jeannine for over a year. It was as if I had forgotten who she was, how I had found myself writing and analyzing and publishing under her mentorship. I should have known better.
“We got it!” she exclaimed over the phone, excitement rising from the the higher than normal trill in her voice.
“Got what?” I asked unsure of which endeavor she was speaking.
“NWP! We got the site funding!” she exclaimed giddily. “Get ready!”
What did that mean? How did it happen? What is NWP? 5 weeks in the summer? What?
And so it began, my journey with National Writing Project.
I had no idea what wealth this organization would add to my life, how it would nourish me and calm me and inspire me again and again. I had no idea this launch into NWP which had been planted in pretty nutrient-barren soil would repeatedly catapult me into reaching deep down and doing more than I thought I had in me. I don’t think anyone is quite prepared for the transformative process NWP carries with it.
All I know is every encounter with NWP is much like that time with Jeannine: clear vision, passion to do what’s best for learners, unquenchable thirst for learning, risk-taking, trusting, and above all, knowing where to go with the freedom of finding our own way of getting there.
We write the stories of our lives one page at a time, and our journeys with NWP are no different. Some of us take detours, others direct routes. Some of us hitch rides, Whatever our chosen or thrust-upon-us methods of movement, we know we will get there… together.