My Dear Rivne

Rivne rises in memory, sharing, spreading her light and warmth freely. She sings sweet and low, somehow stowing miracle mountains of inspiration underneath even her flattest tracts. And in her far-off embrace, she yet traces a true outline of home on my heart…

These pieces were written during my first ever full experience as a teacher of creative writing—my dream teaching assignment for many years. I will always be grateful for the wide-open opportunities that I had here at RSHU, for the freedom to teach whatever I wanted to, and the total trust that this took on the part of the teachers and students that I worked with. To the students who bore down beside me, matching me in passion, those who bought into the ideas and assurances that despite all of the hard work, writing would be worth it in the end: I can’t ever thank you quite enough, and you’ll never know how much your work and words have meant to me (and how much they continue to inspire me). The single most rewarding moments during my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine have been in working with my students inside and outside of this university, and the greatest compliment I’ve ever received as a teacher was when a student of mine said that she never thought before that she was good enough to write anything of worth, but after our work together, she couldn’t help but think of herself as a writer. If I leave anything behind here, I hope my students know that their words, their lives, their voices ALWAYS matter, always have worth, and always have the power to change the lives of others. I know this from personal experience: you all have changed my life so much simply by sharing your thoughts and dreams with me in class and on the page. From now on, all that I write will have, at least in some small part, you in mind, all hereafter filtered through my life and experience with all of you. And so, like the pieces in this zine, everything I write, whether consciously or not, will be for you, because of you, through you, and—this is one of my greatest hopes—alongside of you. Even though we work apart, separated by continents and oceans, I hope from the bottom of my heart that you continue to write and that you share your words with me and the world at large. I love you all, and will miss you dearly! Thank you for truly making Rivne my home!

Andrew T. Cartwright
Peace Corps Volunteer
December 2010 – December 2012

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