Meet Our Session One Instructors: Chioma Urama & Andrew Boryga

Now that we are officially less than a month out from our very first PageSlayer session, we thought it would be a good time to introduce the wonderful team of instructors who will lead our first group of PageSlayers' campers come June 19. Below, please find two short Q&A's introducing Chioma Urama and Andrew Boryga, two accomplished writers of color who are currently based in Miami and extremely excited to work with our Slayers this summer!    

Chioma Urama

Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from originally? What sort of writing do you do? What are you working on right now? 

I’m from Northern Virginia, about 20 minutes outside of Washington, DC. I write fiction and dabble in poetry frequently. Right now, I’m working on getting my yoga teacher training certification. I’m learning to integrate mediation, breathing, and visualization practices into a creative writing curriculum for a more holistic approach to teaching.

What made you want to join the PageSlayers teaching staff this summer? 

I love teaching creative writing and working with children and PageSlayers presents the wonderful opportunity to do both. It’s also very important to me to be able to work with black children and to provide them with the tools and instruction that is often considered a luxury or a privilege in our society.

What are you looking forward to most in the program? 

I’m really looking forward to getting to know the kids! My teaching style is very collaborative. I work with the ideas, issues, and concerns that my students bring into the classroom to build creative assignments.

When did you first fall in love with creative writing? 

I fell in love with writing very early on (probably 2nd or 3rd grade) after reading a story called “Amelia’s Notebook.” It’s a children’s story written like a diary with doodles and postage stamps and restaurant napkins pasted in the margins of the pages. I’ve been writing and journaling and sticking leaves and feathers in between the pages of my notebooks ever since.

Why do you think it is important that students in the program have the opportunity to be exposed to creative writing at an early age? 

Creative writing presents children with a safe space to begin to think critically about their world. It encourages them to engage their imaginations and promotes self-confidence that strengthens other areas of learning.

Where can students, parents or supporters find out more about you and your work?

I’m in the works of putting together a site, so be sure to check back for updates soon!

 

Andrew Boryga

Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from originally? What sort of writing do you do? What are you working on right now? 

I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. I started out writing non-fiction and interning for local newspapers in the Bronx and have since gone on to write features for places like The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. I fell in love with writing fiction around my sophomore year in college and have been obsessed with it ever since. I’m currently an MFA student at the University of Miami and hard at work on my first novel.

What made you want to join the PageSlayers teaching staff this summer? 

I love the idea of introducing kids to creative writing and expression ASAP. Personally, I did not discover the power of writing until later in life. Growing up in the Bronx in the 90s and attending mostly public schools, I didn’t have many opportunities to learn from writers that looked like me and wrote about my world. I really believe in the mission of PageSlayers and the power of telling young kids of color they already have the ability to create things with their words and showing them—simply through the presence of instructors who look like them and write for a living—that making a career out of writing is possible no matter where you start out in life.

What are you looking forward to most in the program? 

Being blown away by the work the kids will produce. In previous jobs working at education non-profits and in my day to day life taking time to talk to kids and really listen to them, I’m always amazed by the beautiful depth inside of them and the ways they can express themselves when people actually take an interest in what they have to say. I know our PageSlayers will have this same depth and honestly I can’t wait to learn from them.

When did you first fall in love with creative writing? 

I didn’t even think being novelist or a poet could be a possibility until I went to college and started to read writers of color like Junot Díaz, Piri Thomas, Ernesto Quiñonez, Helena Viramontes and so on. I thought in order to be an author you had to write the sort of stuff I read in school, which was mostly written by white men who had no clue what it was like growing up in the Bronx. But in college I had an epiphany. Since then I’ve been in love with the idea of putting my own world on the page and writing about people who look and speak like the people I know deeply in my life.

Why do you think it is important that students in the program have the opportunity to be exposed to creative writing at an early age? 

I really believe the earlier you can unlock a student’s potential the better. Not only will a summer program like this help kids perform better in school, it will more importantly help kids think critically about their own life and world. I think that is one of the most powerful things you can teach a kid and something that will last well beyond this summer.

Where can students, parents or supporters find out more about you and your work? 

You can find out more about my work on my website or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.