UC Student Veterans Summer Writing Workshop

Veterans Writing Workshop

UC Student Veterans Summer Writing Workshop

University of California, Santa Barbara

“Creative writing offers veterans a way to integrate their military experiences into their larger life narratives. When veterans write and share their stories, they build bridges to the civilian community, and they strengthen their ties to other veterans.”

- Susan Derwin, Director, UC Student Veterans Summer Writing Workshop

All veterans have memories of their military service, from enlistment, boot camp and trainings, through deployments and homecomings. At the UC Student Veterans Summer Writing Workshop, student veterans from across the ten campuses of the University of California will gather for one week to study and practice the art of storytelling. Under the guidance of experienced instructors, students will learn how to compose personal narratives about their military experiences and share their stories with others. Participation in the workshop is free of charge. Participants will be provided with meals, lodging, and a travel allowance.

Program: The program schedule includes daily meetings, group discussions, and story circles. Afternoons are devoted to writing and are a time of quiet work. The late afternoons are reserved for recreation: attending a yoga class to refresh mind and body, swimming and exercising, meditating, and strolling around the campus lagoon, labyrinth, and beach. Daily communal meals and evening gatherings afford time for conversation, friendship-building, and conviviality.

Goals: The UC Student Veterans Writing Workshop was created in the belief that when veterans write their stories and share them with others, they become more connected to themselves,  they discover new meanings in their life, and they build bridges of communication to the civilian world.

Questions about the program or application process can be directed to IHC Assistant Director Christoffer Bovbjerg at cbovbjerg@ihc.ucsb.edu.

The UC Student Veterans Summer Writing Workshop is supported by the UC Office of the President and through gifts from the Gretler Foundation; from Danelle Storm Rosati ’77 and Mario Rosati; and from Laureen Seeger and David Elliot Cohen.

About the Instructors

UC Student Veterans Writing Workshop Instructors:

Susan Derwin is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at UCSB and Director of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC). Her teaching and research concentrate on the relationship between testimonial narrative and healing. Since 2011 she has facilitated a university writing workshop for student veterans and military dependents. She has spoken nationally and internationally about the benefits of narrative-making for the social reintegration of returning soldiers. She helped create a UCSB student veterans writing column in a local journal run by UCSB undergraduates, and she is the editor of Instant Separation, a digital journal of military experience from the University of California. An interview with her focusing on her work with veterans was featured on UCSB’s Humanities and Fine Arts page.

Thomas P. Helscher, Ph.D., FIPA, received his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Virginia.  He taught writing in the English Department at the University of Virginia and subsequently completed psychoanalytic training at the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies (LAISPS), where he received a Psy.D. in Psychoanalysis.  He has served as President of LAISPS and currently as a Training and Supervising Analyst. He has served on the Steering Committee of the Soldiers Project, a national organization providing free and unlimited confidential psychotherapy to returning veterans, where he has worked in individual therapy with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and has offered training seminars for volunteer therapists on the concept of “moral injury.”

Aida Amirkhanian has been studying and teaching yoga for over 25 years. Interested in both the practical and the philosophical aspects of yoga and the interconnectedness in the day-to-day practice and life, Aida is currently teaching at the “Light On Yoga” yoga center. Aida has a methodical and strong teaching style; her determination and strong yoga practice motivate her to provide an uplifting, safe forum for challenging, rewarding, and transformative experiences.

Learn More

Read participant writing at Instant Separation

Read media coverage of the workshop:

Download the brochure

Watch this short video: