Upcoming writing group seeks to build community

English student Hanako Teranishi on writing, community, importance of third spaces

The University of Manitoba campuses are wide, sprawling and sometimes inhospitable.

For students looking for connections, either in scholarly or creative environments, options for socializing are limited to what is provided by other students who have their own unique schedules, causing group drop-in times to vary. 

Hanako Teranishi, a fourth-year English honours student, is aiming to remedy that with their new group, UM Student Writers.

The group is open to all students from all faculties and to anyone who just wants to write and meet other student writers.

“In university, there are limited spaces to sit and be without certain rules and restrictions,” said Teranishi. 

This lack of a third space — a space aside from home and the workplace — to exist and connect inspired Teranishi to create one for anyone who has writing to get done.

Last year, Teranishi found themselves getting involved in campus communities and events through the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities. Despite the fact these events were open to everyone, Teranishi noticed a lack of students amongst the attendees. 

“Even in finding those communities, there was still a huge lack of student community,” Teranishi said. 

Teranishi found that the offered student groups required more work than they were able to do, and struggled to accommodate it into their schedule. 

“I thought it would be nice to do something that meets me at my own level.” 

Through this desire, the UM student writing group was born. 

Inspired by the writing group run by Jocelyn Thorpe, director of the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture and U of M associate professor in the women’s and gender studies program and department of history, Teranishi’s group aims to be student-based, fostering a collaborative community. 

Teranishi hopes to cultivate “a space where undergrads and grad students can come and sit in a space for a couple hours and write together.”

Any writing, or even reading, will be encouraged in the group. Teranishi personally wants to dedicate the time to their own creative work. 

Teranishi hopes the group will provide a low-pressure environment for the campus community to begin and grow.

Community in third spaces emphasizes casual connections and their importance for mental health. In this same vein, Teranishi encourages people to create a wider community at the university to engage with groups of people you can just be with.

“To be around others is really great for mental health,” Teranishi said. “I really want this space to be centred around […] support for one another.” 

For more involved students, Teranishi hopes to provide an option to submit work for a published text of works from the group. Teranishi wants group members to be open to “sharing space physically but also sharing space on a page.”

At the end of the day, Teranishi said that they “really want this place to be a place of care and community.”

The group will have its first meeting on March 21 at St John’s College with light refreshments and snacks available. The group hopes to meet every Thursday. Students can keep up to date with @umstudentwriting on Instagram