Chloe Frantzis participated in a one-week flash-fiction course that was part of Welllesley’s Pre-College Summer Program.
There were a few things I knew for certain when I entered Wellesley's One Week Pre-College Workshop: First, I had no clue what to expect. Second, I had no clue what flash fiction was. And, third, I was most certainly not going to an all-women's college.
I am a currently a senior at Newton South High School in Massachusetts -- which is approximately a seven-minute drive away from Wellesley College. Although I had gone to multiple athletic camps, I was looking for another experience this past summer, one where I could expand upon my passion for writing.
On the recommendation of my aunt (who went to Wellesley), I signed up for the week-long Wellesley Pre-College course, deciding on flash-fiction as my focus over math or poetry simply because it was a genre of writing I had never heard of. Although I did not think much of my commitment at the time, the experience I gained from my week at Wellesley not only changed the way in which I approach writing, but also how I viewed an all-women’s learning environment.
Meeting Wellesley professors
This past July, I walked into my first class with 14 other girls. To my surprise, the actual creative writing professor at Wellesley, Dr. Marilyn Sides, was to be teaching us the entire week. It was such an honor to be able to work with a teacher so qualified and talented, and even though we only had five days of classes, the sheer amount of writing, learning, editing and sharing made it feel more rewarding than my year-long English courses at school.
Luckily for me, it was clear that most everyone was as clueless about the genre of flash-fiction as I was, but we all shared a common passion for storytelling. Professor Sides informed us that flash-fiction is the genre in between poetry and short stories: a vignette, or snapshot of a moment which provokes emotion.
I was quickly enthralled in this new and exciting form of creative expression, and my fellow classmates (and soon close friends) spent our day constructing 100-word stories based off pictures and prompts. Over the week, these assignments grew to page-long narratives, triads, and character explorations. Yes, at the end of the week we had a portfolio with our best pieces, but the Wellesley Pre-College course is much more about the journey than the destination.
A supportive classroom
Never have I ever felt more comfortable and included in a classroom environment. In previous English classes, I had always been hesitant to share my strong opinion, and during workshops, I felt as though my peers never really cared about giving me feedback. Here at Wellesley, personal stories and impactful moments were common plots to our stories. No one judged or shunned each other, and instead, the response was encouragement and care. A little community of ideas and love formed within our class, and each writer’s work was well appreciated and critiqued with affection. It soon dawned on me that a probable cause for this intimate connection was our shared female experience.
Upon first entering the campus I was slightly annoyed (yes, I will admit it) at the fact that there were no boys. But I soon realized that it was not the lack of boys that made my week so memorable, but the abundance of girls. Throughout the week we became a family, and is was devastating to see my new (but seemingly old) friends hop in taxis and return to their homes in Connecticut, California, Oregon and Switzerland.
It is amazing the difference one week can make – it sure changed my outlook on many things. For one thing, I now know what flash fiction is. For another, I can completely understand the importance of being a part of an all-women's atmosphere like Wellesley: It is an incredible opportunity women can only fully comprehend once they have experienced it for themselves.