Young Writer's Endeavor (YWE), an annual, Bahá'í-inspired workshop a team of friends host for youth between 12-18 to build their powers of expression through the literary arts. This year, it's 31 participants from 15 countries.
This week, we're learning about writing articles. One assignment has them learning about Hearken, a news outlet whose founder, a friend of the Faith, based its investigative practices on the Bahá'í community building framework. Rather than picking stories that will cheaply lure viewership, they start by asking the community what questions they are interested in, then engage them as protagonists to investigate and report the truth they discover. A boy asks how the local sewer system works, resulting in a podcast where that boy participates in explaining local infrastructure in a way accessible to children.
In the assignments, participants reflect on themselves as community builders. To a question about what skills they learn in community building that might aid them as journalists, participants reflect on learning to talk to children as children's class teachers or as part of last month's Summer of Service, and how this skill would help them include the community in reporting.
YWE also includes Q&A Zooms with guest professionals. A participant starts today's call with a Portuguese prayer, then Bahá'í journalist, Liz Courquet-Lesaulnier, tells us about Word in Black, a news outlet she started with 9 leading Black journalists in the US to report stories of importance from a Black perspective.
Question from participant: "How do you imbue an article with meaning without making it feel preachy?"
"That's your sources and the questions you ask them," answers Liz, who then shares a question she asks at the end of her interviews: "Is there anything you haven't told me yet that is keeping you up at night?" A question often followed by an exhale, then a revelation of the person's soul. The piece of truth that they hold.
Like the soul to soul conversations we have at peoples' doorsteps during outreach when you ask the questions the person has always longed to be asked (their next assignment is to do a home visit to interview someone for their article.)
As we end the call, you see one participant wiping away tears; making space in herself for the weight of what our guest speaker has said. That's when you know we're succeeded at creating what we dreamed about.
True education. The kind that results not in knowing how to pass a test, but in moving your sense of yourself.
"The publication of high thoughts is the dynamic power in the arteries of life; it is the very soul of the world." -'Abdu'l-Bahá, quote participants studied in today's session
(Image: Word in Black)