Author Alan Riding returns to the Foyer
Mar 16, 2023

Former New York Times journalist Alan Riding returned to the Foyer des Jeunes Filles last month to offer another series of creative writing workshops for students there. Riding, who has written extensively on Central American politics and published books about Mexico and the cultural life of Paris during the Occupation, discussed the differences between journalistic writing and creative writing, and the ways in which an author might approach the two genres.

“We live through words,” Riding told the students, explaining how a poet might concentrate ideas in the most concise means possible, while a politician might need to focus, above all, on persuasion. He then asked the students to write for 5 minutes to complete the phrase, “The first thing I will do when I become president of Senegal is …”

“The first thing I will do when I become president of Senegal is eradicate political corruption, establish a fund for public resources, and ensure equality for women,” one student wrote.

It was exactly the kind of bold thinking that director Maimouna Ka Sow cultivates in the girls at the Foyer, and why Le Korsa strives to support the 144 students living there by bringing in special guests, such as Alan Riding, who can help them develop a range of skills. Year after year, students at the Foyer pass the college entrance exams at a rate that is higher than the national average.

If you would like to support the Foyer, or programs such as Alan Riding’s creative writing workshops, please consider making a donation.