SETS COMMUNITY-FACING WORK
Parkdale is the “landing strip” for waves of immigrants and refugees arriving in Toronto; it’s also home to, or the near neighbour of, a number of MFA students in the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing Program and two SETS faculty members: Catherine Bush and Michelle Elleray.
In January and February each year, students from the Creative Writing MFA head to Parkdale Public School in Toronto to work with Grade 7/8 students on the Parkdale Project, an initiative led by Pofessors Bush and Elleray that brings creative literacy to an inner city school. The MFA students are the instructors, thinking through how to engage eleven- and twelve-year olds in articulating the world around them, how to involve students newly arrived to Canada who are still learning to communicate in English, how to take all the energy and ideas the Parkdale students generate and help shape them into a poem or story. More recently, the Parkdale Project has expanded to the local high school, Parkdale Collegiate Institute. At the end of the Parkdale Project the Grade 7/8 students choose their best piece of work to include in an anthology and join the high school and MFA students to read their work aloud.
The Grade 7/8 students write about everything from family reunification and peer pressure to one of the most visible benefits of Parkdale’s diversity: great food!
Chains of restaurants
In the heart of the city.
I’ll starve before decision
by Norbu, Gr. 8 (2012), Parkdale PS