Meet Our Session Three Instructors: Chioma Urama & Itzel Basualdo

Unbelievable as it is, we've come to our final session of PageSlayers this summer! How time flies.

Today marks one week in with our new crop of future novelists and poets. As we move into our final week for the summer, we'd like to introduce to you the duo of instructors guiding us to the finish line: Chioma Urama, coming back to us after leading our first session in June, and homegrown Miami artist and writer, Itzel Basualdo. 

Chioma Urama

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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!

Itzel Basualdo

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 am, as they say, one of those who was born AND raised in Miami. Against my Argentine father and Mexican mother's will, I have begun to establish myself as a visual artist. Lately, I've been working on a small book that addresses and presents the crisis in Venezuela from multiple sources: Twitter, interviews, and that of an absolute outsider. I will also be an MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago beginning August 2018.

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

I wanted to join PageSlayers because I enjoy working with children; I was excited about the possibility of teaching creative writing! And I like creative writing! 

What are you looking forward to most in the program? 

I think what I'm looking forward to most is seeing the children enjoy themselves and enjoy the writing process. I think PageSlayers offers these kids a wonderful introduction to the possibilities that exist in writing, and is helping those who had already become enamored by it tap into it even more. I hope that beyond learning about metaphors and rhyme, PageSlayers allows them to see the world through a different lens.

When did you first fall in love with creative writing? 

I think I first fell in love with creative writing in elementary school. I don't remember who, but someone gifted me with a journal in the second grade and after that, my life was forever changed. I've kept a journal since then, and from there I moved on to writing short stories about spies and a half-cat/half-human girl named Cassandra.

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 think it is important for the children to be exposed to creative writing from an early age so they view and treat literature differently—so they can see for themselves that reading and writing doesn't have to be boring. It is much like planting a seed, this appreciation for literature. It is something that they can take with them, and it might be a short story, or novel, that helps them navigate a difficult period of their lives.

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

You can very soon follow me on my website, and check out my film photography (posted on occasion) on my Instagram.