Summer Program Update With Gretchen Barkhuff


Goodbyes have never been my strong suit. In some ways, they are a bit like writing conclusions for a paper: you look back, wrapping up what you did and tying up loose ends, but you also need to look forward and beyond what you have already done. Yet for me, goodbyes will always be messier than writing. How do you say goodbye to such an exciting and powerful organization as PEN/Faulkner, or the people who make it so awesome? (They didn’t even tell me to say that.)

I’ve had a truly amazing experience being the Education and Development intern this summer. When I was first interviewing for the position I called it my dream job because the position reflected precisely why I think literature is one of the most valuable cultural tools we have. This summer has reaffirmed my belief that literature and stories are useful avenues for connecting with others and sharing ideas. But even more importantly, this summer has been a daily reminder of how precisely young people perceive the world around them and the beauty with which they are capable of telling their stories. I worked with seven talented and fun-loving high school students whose ideas and vast imaginations never failed to astound me. I was a privileged listener to their ideas, daily activities, and future goals. On top of all this, I even got be called a cool adult. They have much power in their voices and I wish them the best of luck as they continue high school. I can’t wait to read future writers in schools blogs to see what everyone is up to!

I’m excited to finish up my last semester of college having had this experience. It has taken away any lingering doubt I had about what I am going to do with my English degree: I know that I want to teach literature in some capacity and would love to spend more time in a similar literary outreach program. The people at PEN/Faulkner have given me the confidence and experiences to know that I can do this.

I’ve had a blast working in the office with Emma, Ariel, and Daniel and it will be strange not being in the office next week to laugh along with everyone. I’ll miss everyone I worked with this summer, both in the office and at the summer program. I’m positive hat they, in return, will miss my awesome dance moves—they just don’t know it yet.

Also, thanks for the T-shirt. I will wear it with nerdy pride.