The class of 2016 volunteered at Writers Week, as Tracey Wong reports:

Before the start of term this year, our class was offered the opportunity to help out at Writers Week, one of the highly anticipated events of the New Zealand Festival. With the promise of stimulating discussions at several venues across the Wellington CBD and an awesome T-shirt for volunteers, we were all quick to sign up for the role.

I had only arrived in the city a few weeks prior, but I felt right at home at my first ever literary festival. It was an enlightening experience with plenty of highlights – catching glimpses into mastering the art of living, being engrossed in the intellectual frenzy of slam poetry, and handling the all-important task of eating leftover German pretzels. On top of all that, I somehow managed to find the courage to do an impromptu interview with the wonderful Charlotte Graham as part of Radio New Zealand’s Writers Week blog, which you can read here.

At one point during an afternoon shift in the green room, Gregory O’Brien turned to me and posed the question of whether people – particularly younger generations – should attend live events rather than just watching on a screen or listening to an audio recording from home. Thinking back now (and in an attempt to redeem myself for failing to come up with something remotely close to an intelligent answer), I’ve realised that there’s something unique about experiencing these sessions in person. Being in the presence of fellow creators who are passionate about their work, as well as those of others, is truly uplifting, and it is moments such as these that inspire me to imagine better – for myself and for the world around me.

A huge thank you to the team at Writers Week for letting us be a part of this celebration of storytelling, and for ensuring that the lives of books extend beyond their pages.

This article originally appeared in the Whitireia Publishing Autumn 2016 newsletter. Sign up for our newsletters here.

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