Graduate student, alumnus selected for prestigious Prague Summer Program

May 27, 2015

Rebecca Samson ’12/M ’15 has been selected for a prestigious Prague Summer Program, a one-month creative-writing residency in the Czech Republic.

Samson also was awarded one of a few competitive Vaclav Havel scholarships. Samson studied German as an undergraduate and is completing a Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) in the Writing, Editing and Publishing track.

She grew up in a Czech household and her passion for Czech history and culture was strengthened after a family trip to Prague in 2011.

She first learned of the competitive summer program from Zachary Jack, associate professor of English. “(The Summer Program) had cut its enrollment slots from around 100 to 40 or fewer, so I never thought I’d get in,” she said. Despite her doubts, she was immediately accepted after submitting pieces of her writing and poetry based on Slavic and Czech tradition and history. Samson is grateful for the guidance Jack provided her. “Without that casual conversation in class, I would not be returning to the land of my ancestors … to live, write and study in Prague,” she said.

Samson hopes to expand her Czech vocabulary and build connections in Prague to further her work on her restorative photo-history project, “Má Vlast Far Away,” an online forum where Czechs at home and abroad can post old photographs.

After the Prague Summer Program, Samson plans to continue writing and work on a fictional series about Slavic families who shape the world through generations until they destroy it. Additionally, she plans to write a four-book anthology series of Czechs who lived through the most pivotal events in 20th century. She sees herself eventually living in Prague and credits North Central College for creating opportunities. “Without the MALS Writing, Editing and Publishing program I wouldn’t have this head start.”

The Prague Summer Program was affiliated for its first nine years with the University of New Orleans and for the past 11 with Western Michigan University. Its mission is to deliver quality mentoring to creative writers at all levels while celebrating the history and culture of one of Europe’s oldest, most beautiful and least expensive cities.

The 40 participants will take part in writing workshops at Anglo-American University for the first two weeks. The second two weeks of the program students will work independently and have manuscript conferences with the program director and with two of the program’s permanent faculty.

By Devan Conness ’16