Paying it forward (a travel writing course scholarship, pls fwd)

Monika Sengul-Jones
2 min readSep 8, 2020

Sponsoring a student for a Travel Writing Master Class

Once upon a time I did travel writing from my perch in Budapest. I was lucky to score a scholarship to take a travel writing course in Rome, Italy with Amanda Castleman, freelance travel writer, journalist and teacher who has carefully mastered the craft of acknowledging oneself as a stranger and letting yourself “sense something in the air,” as Castleman quoted Roy Peter Clarke for Poynter in our course.

And then following, noting, and listening for narratives and connections with a special alertness, honesty, and care.

“Avoid imprecise gushing,” she said. “Be honest and fact check.”

We wrote pitches, notes, drafts, and critiqued them.

That scholarship I won was affirming, I was living with very little money at the time. Much was uncertain. But it instilled in me confidence and the support of community; later, I coldly and successfully pitched feature pieces to a network of in-flight magazines, the image in the link is from one of those articles. I have finished my long project of successfully defending my PhD, I will do more of this in times to come.

I am also in a privileged position to acknowledge the gift I received then by paying it forward.

I am funding a scholarship for an eager writer to study with Castleman. Her female-owned online school Write Like A Honey Badger helps students achieve their writing dreams with practical and fun courses.

Please circulate this scholarship call to any writers — new and seasoned — you know who may be keen to join and hone those skills of observation and detail with a cohort. "Push your plot arcs further and master the interweaving of action, analysis and reflection," invites Castleman. You'll also cover the business of writing, a good time to "refine your game."

This course, a 10-week intensive master class, takes up writing in a workshop format to explore “imagery and epiphanies apt to an area.”

Travel, especially when it is done thoughtfully, ethically, and curiously, bridges differences and fosters friendships and humanities anew. Though planes may be more grounded in our corona days, this way of thinking, writing, reporting & living are ever more important.