In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Writing University has been continuing our series of interviews with writers in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home. We are posting them now as examples of our shared community strength during this time.
Today's interview is with Rishika Avvari, a senior working towards a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences on a pre-medicine track and a student in the Magid Center Certificate in Writing
Rishika Avvari is a senior working towards a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences on a pre-medicine track and a Certificate in Writing. She also currently the VP of Marketing for the South Asian Student Alliance, the Social Media Director for the Pakistani Student Association, an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Dunnwald Lab, and an Honors Writing Fellow for the Writing Center.
1. Do you have a specific project that you will be working on this year?
I am not currently working on a project. Last semester I worked on a children's book about climate change. It tells the story of a little penguin who is frustrated about the warm weather and takes us through her journey of learning about global warming. I came up with a project while enrolled in the Latham Science Engagement Fellowship as a way to introduce young children to current issues in the realm of science, in terms that they would understand. I'm extremely grateful for the Writing Center, and my mentor Andres Carlstein, for giving me the resources and tools to develop that project!
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write, or any specific routine?
I find it hard to pick up a pen and just begin writing, so I always try to be enrolled in a course that provides prompts for free writing. I'm currently enrolled in Creative Non-fiction Writing with Professor Lei Wang, and every week she gives us a prompt and a few minutes of the class to sit in silence and put some words to paper. Once the class is over, I like to continue working on the prompt and see where I can take it. I also follow a few writing accounts on social media that post writing prompts and love to work on the prompts that catch my eye, either with some pen and paper or just in the notes app.
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
I'm currently reading "The Handmaid's Tale" for my Gender Women Sexuality Studies class, and "Secrets of Story" by Matt Bird for pleasure. The book discusses ways to be a great storyteller and provides very specific examples from books and film. It's a great read for any writer who loves to know what goes on behind the scenes of books and scripts, I highly recommend it!
4. Can you tell us a little about your experience as a Magid Center Certificate in Writing student?
I initially joined the Writing Certificate program to keep my "writer's brain" fresh and improve some basic skills that I hoped to use at later points in my life. Since joining, I've significantly improved my critiquing and professional writing skills, and brought multiple, thoroughly workshopped, pieces to life. I've come a long way in the last few years and made some of my best work thanks to the peers and mentors I've worked with at the Magid Center!
5. Tell us about where you are from -- what are a few of your favorite details about your home?
I'm kind of from all over the place - I was born in India, I lived in Trinidad for five years, Brooklyn for three, Ohio for six (where I finished my high school education), and now my family has been living in the Quad Cities for the last three years. Moving around so often has given me some unique experiences and perspectives, many of which I try to translate into my writing! Some memories that always come to mind are the weekly trips to the farmers markets in Trinidad, looking down into the well in my grandparents' backyard, the local deli that sold the best steamed fish in Brooklyn, and playing tennis after school in the best and worst of weather.
Thank you Rishika!