Atia Abawi Named Author-in-residence

Atia Abawi Named Author-in-residence

Atia Abawi, award-winning foreign correspondent and author, will serve as University School of Milwaukee’s first-ever author-in-residence during the 2022–23 school year. Abawi will visit the school on three separate occasions—in October, January, and April—each for a two-week duration. She will be working with students and teachers in all three divisions, and will also host class visits and workshops that will cover topics such as journalism, international relations, creative writing, news literacy, identity, refugees, and more. Each experience will be tailored to the age level and interests of the students.

Her visit was arranged by Kat Zilka, Upper School English teacher, and Laura Klein, Upper School librarian, with further support from faculty at each division level. “We are thrilled that Atia has agreed to join our community as our first-ever author in residence,” said Zilka. “She is a highly regarded international correspondent and author, but more than that, she cares deeply for kids. She’s excited to help our students in all grade levels gain a global perspective.”

Zilka and Klein are working to incorporate Abawi’s unique insights and talents across all grade levels, through faculty experiences, curricular enhancements, and community engagement. “It will be wonderful to share my first-hand experience of my work, insights, and travels with the faculty and students,” said Abawi. “To be able to contribute to the already outstanding achievements at USM, and be able to have a drop of influence in the lives of these future leaders and their educators, will be remarkable. In the end, this will also be an amazing experience of growth for myself as well. My contributions will coincide with my own personal gains as I soak in the experiences and knowledge of the faculty and students. I have grown from my short visits, I honestly can’t imagine what a year will do.” 

Abawi has been working with USM students since 2018, discussing her experience as a journalist, and how her books—although fiction—are based on real-life stories and interviews with refugees and individuals who work with refugees. Her book “A Land of Permanent Goodbyes,” has been the required summer reading for various grade levels. She has also written “The Secret Sky,” a young-adult novel, and “She Persisted: Sally Ride,” a chapter book for young readers.

Abawi’s visit is sponsored by a Think Big grant, in which teachers can apply for funding to obtain curricular enhancements and to engage in professional development opportunities.

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