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Word Arts: A First Step to 1000 Miles

Mon. Feb. 29, 2016

Students and faculty associated with Word ArtsSome of the authors and the faculty instructors who contributed to "Word Arts: A First Step to 1000 Miles"

It's a first step, but it's a big step for students in two sections of Academic Writing that ran in the Fall term of 2015; the students, all of whom are first-year students in the Transition Year Program (TYP)*, with the support of their course instructors, have published a journal, Word Arts: A First Step to 1000 Miles.

It was very much a collaborative effort. The students each contributed writing pieces from their coursework, pieces which vary from personal narratives to excerpts of research papers. Three of the students, Danielle Sinclair, Whitney Bunn, and Benjamin Nattaway, served as student editorial assistants for the journal. Another student, artist Matthew Hourie, contributed the cover art. Dwayne Flett and Zachius Redhead are credited with the journal title. When asked about the title, they explained that it was Dwayne who came up with "Word Arts" and Zachius with the subtitle "A First Step to 1000 Miles." As for their inspiration, Dwayne noted that he sees himself "as an artist/writer who paints a picture with words." Zachius said that he felt that the title should represent all of the students' contributions. He added that his writing is influenced by the media he was exposed to early on and he thought of "the wise mandrill Rafiki who tells a worried and determined mother that, 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.'"

Dr. Jaqueline McLeod Rogers and Dr. Helen Lepp Friesen served as the course instructors and journal editors. They say that while the journal content is varied, there is something all the writing pieces share, which is that, "all of them contribute to the academic project of critiquing experience and expressing the writer's position in a way that attempts to move the reader" (Introduction to Word Arts: A First Step to 1000 Miles, p. 4). They add that "As writing instructors, we have been moved by the pieces that appear in the volume - as well as by many others over term - that express bright ideas in direct and honest voices."

"Clearly," says the Dean of Arts, Dr. Glenn Moulaison, "if these pieces are representative of their work, these students will go far on their journey, and I congratulate Dr. McLeod Rogers and Dr. Lepp Friesen, for helping them on their way."

*The University of Winnipeg's Transition Year Program (TYP) provides additional supports for Aboriginal students in their first year of university in order to assist them in developing the academic and personal coping skills they will need to succeed.