As a member of and volunteer at HOME, I am always open to whatever programme is offered to migrant domestic workers (MDW). So when I received a message that a professional journalist wanted to hold a writing workshop for us, without hesitation, I said, “Yes!”
I love and enjoy writing but I want to learn more. I want to know what writing is really all about. What are the different forms of writing? Are there any rules to follow? I knew I would be learning more from this workshop, so I looked forward to it.
The instructor was Marina Lopes, a Brazilian American journalist currently based in Singapore. She was a reporter based in Brazil for The Washington Post, as well as Reuters in Mozambique, New York and Washington. She also produced TV segments for PBS and BBC.
Excited, I invited participants for the workshop. Many were willing to join but sadly we had to limit the group size. There were 25 participants in all. The workshop started on March 2 and ended on May 29. Every Wednesday, we would meet on Zoom at night after we had completed the housework for our employers.
Ms Lopes had prepared a syllabus for the workshop. Over the weeks, she instilled in us the basics of writing, from emails and resumes to social media and creative writing. She had set expectations and goals for the course as well. It was to teach participants how to write clearly, concisely and with confidence whether it was professional or personal work. All of us were expected to participate in the class, read the homework assignments, ask questions and share our writing if we were comfortable with it.
As one of the participants, I can say that we have learned a lot and enjoyed the class. The interactions, the sharing of our reflections… wow. Who would have remembered that we are all MDWs in that class?
On our last day of class, we gathered in person. I finally met my classmates and our amazing trainer. Ms Sisi Sukiato, HOME Academy’s Director, dropped by to greet everyone as well.
This was the best session of the workshop. It was a mind boggling time as we were tasked to write one-liners to a few paragraphs of poetry on the spot. But it was fun nevertheless. We did not know whether we could do it, until we read what we had written! It was challenging because if ideas did not flow at that time, you ended up staring at the ceiling or into blank space.
Let me share with you some of our on-the-spot writing. We wrote about rain, getting lost, and about a person who has left us.
Why does everybody love the rain? I hate rain, I can't play, it is so muddy! Here, I am, lonely, nah! Just for today. - Juddy
On my way to meet love Run in circles, sweating Maze lost its beauty, I left. - Lora Jane
Description of my heart, feel pain When you left me. Remember your struggle Patiently you teach me, even I can't But I believe, I can make you proud. Now you will leave, leaving a million meanings You said goodbye that I never wanted I can only pray that you will always be happy. Miss you a lot. - Fatma, My Mentor
Astray who knows One day, every step of the way I'll find the safest place, It's in your embrace The beautiful soul of mine. - Jovi
It's been 5 years dad But still I can feel The loneliness and pain inside. If I could only turn back time Would hug and hold your tired arms. How can I overcome my regrets, dad? The mistakes I made when you were alive I really wish that even in my dreams I can hear your voice And hug you tight. I'm sorry Dad! - Amy, Longing for Dad
Hey Jo, why those eyes You look sad, in bewilderment, Look up, the stars are shining on you! - Jo Ann
For these pieces, we were given up to five minutes. I liked the challenge! See, we could do it. Hooray to all of us!
Ms Lopes said that we will have a part two of this writing workshop. I can’t wait for it. If you are a MDW, join us!
Here’s what the rest of my classmates had to say.
“Yes to part two! I’ve learned a lot. The lesson is very clear and precise and her feedback was very constructive. She encourages us to do better in our writing. I’d love to have more lessons with her.”Jhing Jhing
“Our first writing workshop was really helpful. The 10 sessions which covered different topics taught us different writing techniques. From the proper way to write an email to effective ways of writing a narrative, Ms Marina was so patient in answering our questions, carefully checking our homework and replying to them.”Bhing Navato
“The workshop went beyond my expectations. I learned a lot and appreciated how kind Ms Marina was. She was approachable and had tons of patience in teaching us even when one missed a class.”Julie
“The workshop was very informative especially on writing emails and resumes. I look forward to the next class.”Kate
Jo Ann A. Dumlao