Selina Liu of Flushing spent two weeks learning about Hemingway, Chekhov and county fairs.
The 16-year old was awarded a full scholarship to Between the Lines, a program organized by the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program that brings together American and Russian teenagers to intensively study creative writing.
“I just thought of it as an opportunity to travel while learning,” Liu said. “I had never been to the Midwest before and I wasn’t that confident in my writing, but when I got into this program, I saw it as an opportunity to improve myself.”
The students attended literary seminars where they discussed and analyzed writting. They also went to poetry workshops led by American poet Kiki Petrosino. Liu was free to write about anything that inspired her, and she received constructive criticism from her peers.
The students had a daily two-hour break for lunch, a time whe Liu explored the campus and the town.
The participants also toured the Figge Art Museum and took part in a public reading at The Haunted Bookshop, a local literary landmark.
Not only was Liu introduced to Russian culture by the new friends she made, but she experienced Midwest culture for the first time
The students went to a rodeo and a county fair where they saw bull riding and went on a hayride.
“Coming from New York, we see so many different people,” Liu said, but added that this program gave her the unique opportunity to meet and interact with people from another country for an extended period of time. “It was an eye-opener because of their culture and their writing and sense of humor,” she said.
Liu enjoyed the student-led readings that took place during sunset, where she shared her work with her peers on Lake McBride.
She said, “BTL gave me an opportunity to meet people from all around the world, broadening my understanding of different cultures and allowing me to share my culture with others.”