Home » Fundza Literacy Trust delivers Columbia University training to SA youth with Fellowship Program for aspiring writers 

Fundza Literacy Trust delivers Columbia University training to SA youth with Fellowship Program for aspiring writers 

by Tia

The Fundza Literacy Trust is proud to announce the continuation of its Fellowship Program for South African youth who are passionate about their writing and content creation. The comprehensive eight-month course has been designed to empower aspiring writers with the skills they need, in order to share their unique stories across four different disciplines: digital storytelling, fictional writing, blogging, and journalism, as well as audiobooks and podcasting. Launched in 2023, the Fellowship Program offers South African youth the very same training in fictional writing that is provided to Master’s students studying literature at Columbia University.

Fundza’s new Head of Content, Chase Rhys, has encouraged all fellows to use each segment of their training to process the different aspects of their lives: “We hope that the program will inspire students to use storytelling for therapeutic purposes as well. We want to teach members of our youth that you don’t have to write just for publication, but to process the inner workings of your universe,” shares Rhys. 

This year, 17 talented writers are participating in the program, which is structured into four distinct parts, each focusing on different aspects of storytelling and content creation. 

Part 1: Digital Storytelling

The Fellowship begins with digital storytelling, where fellows learn to use cellphones and video to capture and share narratives from their neighborhoods. This segment emphasizes the accessibility and immediacy of modern technology in storytelling.

Part 2: Fiction Writing

The second part of the Fellowship programme delves into fictional writing, and is guided by Chase Rhys. This module prioritizes the writers’ individual real-life experiences, encouraging them to capture their stories in their own voices, and in any dialect, accent, or language they prefer. “We want writers to know they can use literature to explore their agency in terms of storytelling,” adds Rhys. This part of the course helps fellows find their unique voices, promoting self-expression and personal agency through literature.

Part 3: Blogging and Journalism

Next, the fellowship focuses on blogging and journalism. Fellows are taught to write about their surroundings and communities, honing their skills in non-fiction writing, articles, and columns. This segment aims to enhance their ability to provide perspective on what is happening in their immediate environment, with the aim of encouraging fellows to bring local stories to light.

Part 4: Audiobooks and Podcasting

The final block, led by the multi-talented Linda Daniels, refers to audiobooks and podcasting. Daniels, who created the highly successful audiobook on Fundza’s website, works with fellows on the fundamentals of podcasting, teaching them how to prepare and produce content using just their phones and WhatsApp, emphasizing the value of “guerilla literacy” in our world today. This segment equips fellows with practical skills to create engaging audio content with the bare essentials. 

Fellows are graded at the end of each block and must prepare a final piece for assessment by an external examiner. At the end of the year, students are celebrated at an online awards ceremony to accommodate fellows from across the country. The course aims to be made as accessible as possible, and anyone wishing to join next year’s cohort of fellows can send a sample of their writing to Fundza at writers@fundza.co.za

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