30 students from year 9 and year 12 were chosen to enter the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival brought to us by the Eastside Educational Trust team. The workshop’s aim was to expose students to the literature of people of Asian heritage and to encourage people of all backgrounds to write about their background and their values.
The first workshop was very entertaining – we had an amazing time during the team tasks; tasks such as quizzes. The quizzes involved information that was relatable to many of us, it required us to think about Asian heritage and it was surprisingly challenged our misconceptions. We also read extracts from of a variety of fictional books about non fictional events in Asia; they were all inspiring and extremely intriguing. All of us also wrote a creative piece of writing with the theme of Values, and it was an interesting topic to write on. I personally wrote about how our values contradict with western modern society and how we are often faced with the choice between going with our morals or going with society.
The second workshop took place at the beginning of July, and we all had the privilege of meeting Romesh Gunesekera. It was very exciting to meet an author of such well known books such as “Reef” and “Noon Tide Toll”. Gunasekera connected with us on a personal level as he told us of his life, his background and how he became an author. I personally found him very intriguing as both an author and a person. Gunasekera allowed us the privilege of him reading us extracts from his most well known books, and I personally will remember that moment for a very long time. This is because I feel when we read books; we read it as how we interpret it. Our narrative voice may be very different to the writer, but when a writer reads his own words, you seem to hear the same words in a completely different way. This time you may see every sentence, every word, and every letter differently – and it is riveting.
We then had the pleasure of asking him some questions and he did seem very impressed with us all. After, he told us of the new book he was writing. He read an extract from it, and then he asked us if we were in his place what we would’ve written next. I figured he liked some answers of ours as he wrote some of our answers – including mine – down on paper. He then thanked us and gave us all Romesh Gunesekera postcards. It was all in all a very inspiring experience.
Thank you to all who organised the workshops, and I would recommend it to all students!