Image by Matthieu Comoy

Workshops on
Intercultural Understanding 

IU Workshops for Creative Writing Instructors

  • Recognize and activate the identities and knowledge that are always already present in any creative and educational environment: the identities of the teacher & the students/artist, the identities of the authors we read, the identity and values of the institution we work in, the various identities embedded in the creative work we want to make. 


  • Honor and understand the differences within ourselves. Regardless of our social, cultural, racial, gendered, backgrounds each of us carries and embodies a number of differences, often contextual and thus, open to multiple “readings” depending on contexts (and contexts are not neutral).

  • Check-in with our motivation to expand the range of voices, narratives, and experiences represented in our curriculum and in our body of work ( why considering IU in the first place?), and how IU looks in our classrooms, studio, and writing practice.


  • Examine concepts like “authenticity,” “relatability,” “opacity,”  “universal vs. granular,” when workshopping texts and critiquing an art piece. How do these concepts and the beliefs and values they carry show up in our consciousness? How can we engage with them critically and responsively?


  • Reflect on the kinds of learning experiences we facilitate in our in-person and virtual classes, critiques, and workshops (from ice-breakers to writing assignments). How do we teach for IU? “Understanding” denotes the spectrum of intellectual, self-reflective, somatic, empathetic, and collaborative modes of engagement with others – be these others literary texts, individuals, stories, experiences, and worldviews.


  • Practice intercultural communication: from how we offer culturally responsive feedback, to how to foster student engagement across differences, from how and when to invite vulnerability in our classes, to how to expand our own “tolerance for ambiguity” (Gloria Anzaldua) and not-knowing. Reflect on the value of teachers as dynamic bridges between students, text and its author, teacher and students, and students and students.

 Participants Comments

Intercultural Understanding Workshop

Grub Street Writing Center, Boston

December 2018 & August, 2020.

"Thank you, Marika, for the perfect conversation to transition from this wild ride of a summer into the new academic year. My brain is swirling right now in all the best ways as I process and brainstorm how to incorporate all you shared into my curriculum".

" I work with the teen classes at Grub Street, and everything you shared is so vital and I have been reflecting a lot on your exercises and all the notes I took during the session. Many thanks again for your generosity of time and knowledge!"


Although we are not one, we are not separate. 

Although we are not separate, we are not the same.


                                                                      Sebene Selassie


Since 2018 I offer both individual consulting and group workshops on Intercultural Understanding for educators, professionals, and creatives.

The core practices of IU - and its foundational princicles are:

  • To capitalize on culture as a “cognitive scaffold”* i.e. We leverage the culture that students bring with them in order to deepen their learning.


  • To interrogate the cultural assumptions that may exist in our classrooms and workplaces.

  • To set clear, predictable, value-driven cultural expectations in our classroom.

 IU framework draws from my lived experience navigating cultural, ethnic, and generational differences, my social positioning as a non-US born, white identified woman educator, and my scholarship at the intersection of postcolonial and diaspora studies, cross-cultural studies, and transnational literature.

IU framework responds to years of observing the relationship between social identities, craft, and the broader culture. IU provides a set of tools and skills that help us leverage our culture and social identities as a cognitive and creative scaffold in our teaching, learning, and creative work.


Through IU we deepen and heal any interpersonal, intercultural, and systemic relationships where differences existed and are compounded by power dynamics and structural inequities.

" I work with the teen classes at Grub Street, and everything you shared is so vital and I have been reflecting a lot on your exercises and all the notes I took during the session. Many thanks again for your generosity of time and knowledge!"

"Marika! Just a small note of gratitude for an enormously smart, engaging, compassionate, and helpful session today. I come from a studio art background (in addition to a writing/MFA background), and see so many ways the traditional studio critique and workshop model overlap.  (The clips from that RISD short!!!) Now that I'm on the other side as an instructor, it's so energizing to think about (and implement!) new ways of supporting and reconfiguring those models to benefit all students, to engage with art and to develop artists."


IU Workshops for Art Educators

IU Workshops for Art Educators

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IU Workshops for Art Instructors

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