Global Engagement > Partnerships > Programs for Partner Institutions > Creative Nonfiction Portraits: Chicago and Beirut

Creative Nonfiction Portraits: Chicago and Beirut

​​​​​​​Project Summary : 

  • This virtual exchange collaboration connected creative students from DePaul University with their peers at the American University of Beirut.  Prior to the four-week interactive unit, students read several common texts and explored effective creative writing techniques. During the collaboration, they met first through a synchronous Zoom class session before exchanging multi-media introductions to Chicago and Beirut and drafts of written narrative portraits of their cities. Students held synchronous discussions of those drafts using Skype, Google Hangouts, and WhatsApp. At the end of the course, they wrote reflections on the experience of learning about another culture while expanding their sense of audience and their understanding of the work writing can do in the world. 

Project Length:

  • Four weeks

Technology Tools Used:

  • Zoom
  • WhatsApp
  • Skype
  • Google Hangouts

Communication Type/ Interaction Mode:

  • Synchronous
  • Asynchronous

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students identified effective techniques in creative nonfiction writing.
  • Students crafted effective nonfiction portraits.
  • Students constructed supportive, critical feedback on peers' drafts.
  • Students wrote essays for specific audiences, including an audience of international peers.
  • Students introduced international peers to Chicago and expand their understanding of Beirut in particular and Lebanon in general.

Reflection Component:

  • The final reflective essay of the course included a section on the collaboration that included the following questions: Did you find it worthwhile? Were there particular lessons you learned from it or new questions/interests you developed? Did writing for an audience half a world away impact how you think about writing? Is there anything you'd like me to know about the collaboration, and are there any suggestions you have for the future?

Empathy Building Component:

  • Via an exchange of WhatsApp messages and videos, as well as through the synchronous small-group session.

Michele Morano

Institution: DePaul University
Discipline: English
Course name: Creative Nonfiction Portraits

Rima Rantisi

Institution: American University of Beirut
Discipline: English
Course name: Introduction to Creative Writing

Partner institutions:

DePaul University
Chicago, IL, United States


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