by Rebecca Kilroy, former Summer Intensive Program Coordinator, moving on to brand new things
It’s the summer of Eras! I’ve lost count of the number of Eras tour t-shirts our students wore to the Intensive. Not a single Wednesday special event passed without at least one group’s skit incorporating a Taylor Swift soundtrack. This summer I’ve been reflecting on my own era coming to end, too, in my fourth and final season as Program Coordinator.
When Michelle and Judy asked me to be the Program Coordinator for the Summer Intensives, I thought I knew what I was getting into. After all, at that point I’d been a student for two years and an intern for three. I’d taken classes with almost every instructor, edited three TWC Journals, and watched how two other Program Coordinators tackled the role. And I’d already experienced a fair amount of chaos! Being the designated clipboard-holder on our Ellis Island field trip and counting everyone on and off a series of buses and ferries was the toughest trial-by-fire job interview I’ve ever had.
But when I accepted the job, it was January 2020. It’s fair to say no one knew what that summer was going to look like! I wrote an entire blog post that year about our misadventures in Zoom world during the summer of COVID.
This year was the closest to “normal” we’ve had, even returning to a NYC field trip (though thankfully no ferries were involved). But “normal” is never the word for forty students bursting with creative energy. As our TWC Journal cover will tell you, the Summer Intensives celebrate the joy of not blending in. Whether it was planning elaborate heists in an art museum or writing a camp-wide quest to rescue a jar of riz (yes, I did have to hastily Google what “riz” was to keep with the students’ lingo), the Summer Intensives are an exuberant, bright, and sometimes messy expression of creativity that no job description can every really prepare you for.
When I sat down to write out a list of what my job entails for our future Coordinator to reference, I thought about an exercise a poet friend introduced me to. Every time someone says “have to” she says “get to.” As Program Coordinator, I got to organize and distribute over a hundred “heliconia” t-shirts, spend hours on the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s website finding pictures for our Monday prompt, and investigate mysterious noises coming from the basement, eventually concluding we had an infestation of noise-causing gremlins. I got to listen to every student share their proudest work at the end-of-week reading. I got to clean up spilled fairy dust (Yes, it stains!), organize setting survival scenarios, and travel through time. I even got to teach my own class on Retelling Myths & Fairy Tales, an honor and a joy I never anticipated when I first took this job.
My last day felt like any other Friday. The students went home, trading numbers and Instagram and promising to keep in touch until next summer. Michelle, Judy, the interns and I packed up everything that didn’t belong to Drew University. We took one last group photo and said our goodbyes on the front steps.
But as I walked to my car, I felt the weight of leaving a program that I grew up in. Since I was thirteen, my summers have revolved around the Intensives. The program brought me friendship, inspiration, and a constant in a crazy world. I wasn’t sure how to begin saying goodbye to it. As all writers will tell you, writing a meaningful ending is hard! I remembered a Neil Gaiman quote I’d given to my class that week as part of a lesson on happily-ever-afters: “Not only are there no happy endings, there aren’t even any endings”
We are thrilled to welcome our new “Chaos Coordinator” Bela Khanna who will step into Rebecca’s very hard-to-fill shoes next summer. It’s an honor to employ such talented, intelligent young people in a position that requires as much creativity and resilience as it does administrative skill. As we say of all our staff and interns every summer, we couldn’t do it without them!
—Judith & Michelle, TWC’s Directors