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Personal Narratives: Writing Your Story & Discovering Your Truths

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Cierra Kaler-Jones, Ph.D Tuesdays, Sept. 20-Oct. 11
7p-8:30p ET
4p-5:30 PT
6p-7:30p CT
4 class sessions

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Maya Angelou said, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." This class will equip writers with tools, theory, and reflective exercises to identify and release the stories inside of them.

Personal Narratives: Writing Your Story & Discovering Your Truths gives writers an opportunity to write honestly, authentically, and boldly about who they are, where they come from, and their dreams for the future. Writers will be guided through the process of conducting research about their own lives. We will analyze the data of our lived experiences using artistic and reflective exercises. The stories we unlock during the process will help us to build a story bank—a collection of narratives to draw upon.

We will use counter-storytelling as a foundation to speak life into and (re)claim our personal narratives. Self-inquiry is a powerful tool to uncover the untold stories in our lives, and the themes and patterns that emerge from our experiences.

We will "name ourselves for ourselves," as Audre Lorde called us to do.

By the end of the course, writers will have ideas for 3-4 stories to build their story bank and a draft of one story.

 All class meetings will be held via Zoom. The link to join your Zoom classroom will be provided on the morning of your class. Please check spam folders if you do not receive an email confirmation upon registration. For more information on how to download or use Zoom, please click here.

Meet Your Instructor:
Cierra Kaler-Jones, Ph.D

Cierra Kaler-Jones, Ph.D. is a social justice educator, writer, researcher, narrative coach, movement and meditation instructor, and speaker based in Washington, D.C. She took her love of storytelling in all its forms and founded Unlock Your Story, an organization that supports women and organizations in leveraging storytelling for liberation, community-building, and social change. She also serves as the Director of Storytelling at Communities for Just Schools Fund. She’s led writing and storytelling workshops at universities and colleges, including the Pennsylvania State University, Louisiana State University, Rutgers University, University of Maryland - College Park, and more; given over 300 talks and keynotes, including TEDx and SXSW EDU; was invited to speak to senior officials at the White House, U.S. Departments of Justice, and Education; and has led social justice and healing spaces for companies across the country, including Athleta and 305 Fitness. She is also a lecturer at George Mason University and Georgetown University. Her writing is featured in outlets such as midnight & indigo, magazines like Rethinking Schools, academic journals like the Middle School Journal, and books including Strong Black Girls: Reclaiming Schools in Their Own Image, Black Girl Civics: Expanding and Navigating the Boundaries of Civic Engagement, and Teaching Brilliant, Beautiful Black Girls.

Course Takeaways

  • Receive tools and practices to identify stories that can be leveraged for personal narrative writing
  • Engage in self-inquiry and confessional writing to name truths
  • Learn research strategies to collect and write about data from their lived experiences

Course Expectations

  • Participants will complete heartwork (i.e. homework) during the time between classes. Each session will open up with reflections and shares about this heartwork
  • Come prepared to each session with your favorite writing utensils, as well as coloring utensils (e.g. markers, crayons, colored pencils)
  • You are invited to show up to each session with an open heart, a respect for the craft and each other, and the willingness to stretch yourself to dig deeply

Course Skeleton

  • Week One: Where You From? Writing about Homeplace
  • Week Two: What You Got? Writing about Artifacts
  • Week Three: What's Your Lineage? Writing about History
  • Week Four: Who Will You Be? Writing about Future

We offer full refunds for cancellation with written notice up until 7 days before your class start date. From 6 days to more than 24 hours before class begins, we offer a 50% refund. If you drop a class less than 24 hours before the class begins or after it has started, you are ineligible for a refund.