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University of Iowa News Release

May 2, 2005

UI Nonfiction Writing Students To Travel To Philippines For Workshop

The University of Iowa's worldwide reputation for writing has opened a door for a group of 10 nonfiction writing students who will travel to the Philippines this month for a workshop founded by two 1962 graduates of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Plans for the trip grew out of a luncheon gathering of writers with Iowa connections in the Philippines last year. Robin Hemley, director of the UI's Nonfiction Writing Program, was there following the publication of his book, "Invented Eden, The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday," which details a lost tribe of the Philippines. He met two writers who spent most of their lunch "waxing nostalgic about Iowa," recalling their days in the International Writing Program more than 20 years ago.

Hemley began thinking about the Iowa-Philippines writing connection in light of his goal, upon assuming the leadership of the Nonfiction Writing Program in Fall 2004, to internationalize the program. He learned of an annual workshop at CAP College in Dumaguete on the island of Negros and soon a plan was in motion to bring Iowa students to the workshop as the first Americans and the first nonfiction writing students to attend.

The workshop, now in its 44th year, was founded at Silliman University by Edilberto and Edith Tiempo who studied with Paul Engle in the Iowa Writers' Workshop and saw a need for a similar program to nurture writers in their home country. The Tiempos are the parents of Rowena Torrevillas, who was a longtime staff member in the International Writing Program and now teaches in the English department.

"The connections among writers between Iowa and the Philippines are long and ongoing," Hemley said. "This trip expands the relationship to include nonfiction writers and creates intellectual and cultural exchange for both Philippine and American students."

Hemley and the students will arrive in the Philippines between May 6 and 11 and spend a few days traveling and taking in the history and culture of the country before the workshop begins on May 16. The students will offer and receive writing critiques in daily workshop sessions and will hear from established writers from across Southeast Asia. The Iowa students also will present papers on various aspects of nonfiction writing.

"I hope it will have an impact on their writing and the way they view their own culture," Hemley said. "It's especially important for nonfiction writers to understand the world in a way that is not limited to the window of where they grew up."

Hemley said the travel experience also would open the students to many different forms of nonfiction writing, including cultural critique and travel writing.

"Our students can bring back news of the world that is not simply war and disaster, but cultural news and experience," he said.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Robin Hemley,