Western News

Observer's 'Reading for Good' seminar lauded

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer West writer

Thursday, October 05, 2017

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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland - The recently held Jamaica Observer “Reading Together for Good” seminar, held in Westmoreland, has been hailed as “a well needed success and a motivating” event, by those who attended.

“...I appreciate that the Observer is taking it wider than that. It is more than a classroom setting and we also try to inspire young writers. We want them to understand that literature is really a reflection of socialising what we have been through, what we are looking towards, and there are no boundaries,” said Taniece Todd, head of the Language Arts department at Manning's School.

“I am in full support of it [Observer seminar] and I hope that our young people today left with a stronger appreciation of literature, and I hope they learnt something from Dr [Gary] Rhule and his experiences. I pray that the Observer will continue to do their part as it relates to educating the next generation,” she added.

The seminar, which was held last week Wednesday at the Manning's School in Westmoreland, saw students and teachers of the host school, Maud McLeod High, and Frome Technical High in the parish, as well as Green Island High in Hanover in attendance.

The seminar was aimed at providing additional help for Students in English Literature, to include changes to next year's CSEC examination, as well as increasing general awareness about mental health issues.

Crystal Whittaker is a 16-year-old student of Manning's, and a budding author. A year ago she started writing a book about a schoolgirl who finally settled down following constant moving by her parents.

Whittaker said after listening and talking to one of the presenters during the seminar, she was motivated to have her book completed within a year's time. She said she had stopped writing after losing interest.

“Talking to him [Dr Rhule] today and listening to what he had to say has motivated me to finish the book, knowing that there are many benefits to come from writing a book, and it is not very hard to get your book published as long as everything is okay with it,” said Whittaker, who added, “So all-in-all I would say it was a very good seminar and I am sure everyone learnt a great deal.”

Whittaker added that she has so far written 12 of approximately 30 chapters.

“I would like to read her story. I think that would be a fantastic story. I am glad I motivated one person, just like I had teachers and people who came into my life and motivated me. So, for her, what I use to get things done one way or another is try to find a mentor, a friend, a teacher who will help you through the process,” said Dr Rhule.

He is encouraging young writers who may find it challenging to complete transcribing their thoughts on paper to focus on writing down everything and edit it afterwards and not while writing.

“If you are editing as you go along, you won't finish. Just write the outline, chapters one to 20. (Figure out the chapters in scenes. What is happening in each chapter. What is the beginning; what is the end. Write the complete layout, then you go back... you really want a book that people can relate to. So just write the story,” suggested Dr Rhule.

Dr Rhule, who in 2013 completed his motivating book on mental illness entitled “Sailing on Broken Pieces” in a year, said one should give themselves a timeline to complete their book while writing at least one line per day.

Todd, who also teaches Whittaker, said she appreciates being in a position to assist students who are writers.

“We have a couple of writers here. Every year we can pinpoint those that are going to be writing, and they share with us along the way what they are working on, and I have a few who come to me and say, Miss, this is what I wrote last night. What do you think about it? So, I am in the privileged position of being a critic as well, and I appreciate it, and love when they are motivated in that kind of way,” said Todd.

Business Development & Marketing Coordinator for the Jamaica Observer, Kesi Asher, said the seminar met her expectations in terms of students' participation and portraying what they have learned.

This is the first seminar held by the Jamaica Observer. The second was held the following day in Kingston at Shortwood Teachers' College, and the final in St Ann at Ferncourt High School on Friday of the same week.

Asher also took the time to thank all participating schools, sponsors, and Dr Rhule, a Jamaican who is a medical doctor in the United States of America.

Dr Rhule, who recently appeared on Television Jamaica's Profile programme, says his is aim is to motivate individuals.

Meanwhile, one of the seminar's sponsors, COK Sodality Co-operative Credit Union handed out prizes and encouraged students about the importance of opening a bank account.

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