Atia Abawi completes her second of three visits as University School of Milwaukee’s first-ever author-in-residence on Friday, Feb. 2. Abawi’s schedule since her arrival on Monday, Jan. 23 was packed with classroom appointments in all three divisions, Middle School writing workshops, tea-making lessons, lunches with students and faculty, and more. During this visit, Abawi focused on the Preschool and Lower School, and Middle School divisions, while her last residency centered more on Upper School.
Abawi also moderated a thought-provoking panel discussion about the Afghan refugee crisis on Tuesday, Jan. 24. The event was free and open to the USM and greater Milwaukee communities, and also livestreamed. See a recording of the event here, under the January 2023 tab.
“What an incredible second trip back to USM,” said Abawi. “During the first week, I got to spend more time with Preschool and Lower School students and faculty. The openness, kindness, and hugs are memories I’ll hold forever. It was such an honor to be able to share Afghan culture with them. The teachers went out of their way to make sure it was both educational and fun for all of the children. I still can't believe we were able to celebrate the week with a school-wide ‘attan’—a dance used in Afghanistan to conclude celebrations.
“During week two, I was able to spend more time with the Middle School students and shared such great conversations with inquisitive minds in 5th grade World Cultural Geography. And we were able to dive into creativity in writing with both 5th and 8th grade students. USM has such talented students with a supportive faculty to help bring out the best in the kids.
“Finally, it was so great to dive into deep and meaningful conversations with the Upper School students again. Each division holds a special place in my heart and I can't wait to see everyone again in April.”
Abawi will return to USM on April 10, 2023, for her third and final two-week visit as USM’s author-in-residence. The author-in-residence program was arranged by Kat Zilka, Upper School English teacher, and Laura Klein, Upper School librarian, with further support from faculty at each division level. It is sponsored by a Think Big grant, an endowed fund supported by generous donors so that USM teachers can apply for funding to obtain curricular enhancements and to engage in professional development opportunities.