New Voices Wagon Project
The New Voices Wagon Project is a grassroots project which develops participants' skill and confidence as writers. Following a series of Saturday writing workshops, participants work with student volunteers to produce a published anthology of their writing. The project is directed by Zimbabwean writer and editor Agrena Mushonga in partnership with the Centre for New Writing.
In addition, the project:
- Provides a platform for self expression as well as an opportunity to explore the use of writing as a therapeutic tool.
- Is a vocational, income-generating venture or pastime for people from disadvantaged communities, including refugees.
- Benefits new or unheard voices and writers, particularly those of migrant communities.
What our student volunteers say
At the beginning of the project, six workshops were held on campus every Saturday, 2.00 to 4.00pm, which welcomed participants/writers and volunteers from all walks of life. Although these workshops were primarily aimed at the writers to hone their writing skills, as a Volunteer Editor, it was a learning experience for me too. Through this project, participants discovered writing as a powerful therapeutic tool, they discovered their voice, and for some, they shared their stories so as to inspire others. As a team we worked towards the project’s launch of its pilot publication, entitled New Voices: Empowering and breaking barriers through stories, which was a collection of prose and poetry written by participants of the project. We carried out a successful launch on 24 May 2014.
My duties in the project were varied but each task was equally important to ensure the smooth running of the programme. I, along with my team, set up workshops for the participants - including technical support, ushering and provision of beverages. Moreover, I gave a group presentation with my fellow editors on the process and guidelines of editing to the writers. I proofread and edited submitted prose and poetry for the publication. I was interviewed by BBC Radio Leicester and BBC TV East Midlands to promote the project and its objectives. I believe that these experiences equipped me with excellent employability skills which I’ve ensured are prominently displayed on my CV. In fact, when interviewed by prospective employers, they told me that this experience stands out as a positive part of my development both personally and professionally.
Of course, it is important to note that this opportunity does require a genuine commitment to the project since it does require one’s ability to balance academic coursework, extra-curricular activities and the responsibilities of the project. However, I strongly believe that it is a fantastic opportunity that I, personally, will never regret being a part of. The people I met and worked with and the new voices I read in the stories are treasured experiences that have broadened my understanding, not only of publishing, but of different cultures as well. The Project Coordinator, Mrs Agrena Mushonga, and Senior Lecturer, Dr Corinne Fowler, have provided me with invaluable insight into publishing that I believe is second to none.
The New Voices Project is a collaborative writing project designed to allow refugees in the local community to use creative writing as a therapeutic tool. From January to March weekly workshop sessions were held to guide new writers on how to put their story into words. By using writing as therapy, contributors were able to process and reflect on the thoughts and emotions from their past. People often think that their own story is not worth telling, but the New Voices Project has proved that everyone has a story and that every single one holds worth and power.