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- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Tours + Study Abroad are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Our Clients Include *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email email@example.com
Tag Archives: non-fiction
For the 7th year, women will gather in retreat for a week of creative writing, daily yoga, meditation and exploration in Oaxaca, Mexico. Our workshop is limited to 10 people. Will you be one of them? Some of us are novices. Others are published poets and writers. All are welcome and encouraged. If this is something you have always wanted to do, please do not hesitate. We fill quickly!
In 2017, we are based in Oaxaca City — a UNESCO world heritage site!
Arrive by Friday evening, March 3. The workshop ends Friday morning, March 10, 2017. The workshop fee includes 7 nights lodging in a top-rated Bed & Breakfast Inn, all instruction, daily yoga, personal coaching sessions, daily breakfast and some lunches. You might want to arrive a day early to settle in, avoid a late night arrival or missed connection.
Who Attends? Women with something to say.
- You keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material.
- You dream of writing and never have.
- Ideas percolate, and you want to capture and develop them.
- Perhaps you have written and/or published a while ago, let the writer’s life lapse and you want renewal and encouragement.
- You are a writer and may want guidance and support to continue an unfinished piece or publish it.
Workshop Leader: Professor Robin Greene
Our workshop leader and coach is published author/poet and university professor Robin Greene. With her help and feedback from the group, you’ll gain knowledge and perspective about the art and craft of writing. There will be plenty of time to retreat for writing — what you come here for!
You are encouraged to write in the genre that best suits you: memoir, journal, poetry, personal essay, creative nonfiction or fiction.
Daily morning yoga sessions enhance your writing. We tailor the sessions to fit each person’s physical level and needs. As you flex your body, you stretch your imagination. Yoga develops core strength to find voice and creative center.
This is a perfect combination of the physical and spiritual, says past participant Lee Ann Weigold.
What Participants Say
- I learned I am fully capable of being the writer I dreamed of becoming.
- The location, teaching and program structure creates a truly transcendent experience of enormous value.
- I was challenged and that turned out to be exactly what I needed.
- Far exceeded expectations. Got many suggestions for how to write healing stories.
- It was wonderful!
- The combination of writing, yoga, meditation and shared sisterhood is transformational.
- Oaxaca feels safe, safer than my hometown in the USA.
- I identified a writing project that engages and excites me.
- The balance of intensive writing workshops, cultural excursions and yoga lead to a powerful experience on all levels.
- The feedback was so thoughtful. I honestly can’t think of anything I would change.
Accommodations — Lodging
We are based in a woman-owned and operated Bed and Breakfast Inn, in the heart of Oaxaca’s historic center, within easy walking distance to Santo Domingo Church, the Andador walking street lined with shops and restaurants, the Zocalo and city markets. We have available four double/shared rooms with private bath and three single rooms. Two private/single rooms share a bath. The Inn is in a restored colonial home with patio, gardens, gathering and retreat spaces. The food is delicious, home-cooked and organic. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available. We have reserved the entire house for our retreat!
Imagine a setting so beautiful that it inspires all the best within you. Here, amid 16th century Spanish buildings, pre-Hispanic archeology and culture, flowering trees and exquisite views, you will enjoy a rich and rewarding experience. Our workshop is perfect for renewal and self-reflection.
From Instructor Robin Greene
“The writing retreat is very relaxed. I ask each participant to send me a work in progress or writing sample before the workshop. This gives me an opportunity to tailor the workshop to strengths and needs. Our goal is to develop craft and we will support each other in this learning process.
I’ll also have plenty of prompts, writing exercises, and suggestions—and, of course, as women write, we energize each other. I like to encourage women to find their voices so that the retreat experience is personally meaningful. In addition to one scheduled conference with each person, I’m available for feedback and coaching throughout our time together. And, because I teach creative writing, I have a repertoire of techniques and strategies to share with writers at all levels.
We cannot promise that you will win a poetry prize, as did one of our participants after writing her winning poem at the retreat, or be published in The Sun Magazine and Minerva Rising literary journals as several past participants have. We CAN promise that you will explore, develop and deepen as a writer if you are open to the experience and make new friendships with like-minded people.
What the Retreat Includes:
- 21-hours of group workshop and feedback
- One-hour individual coaching session
- Focused sessions to hone your skills: grammar, reading in public, publishing, grammar, editing
- Daily yoga sessions tailored to your skill level
- 7 nights lodging
- 7 breakfasts
- 3 lunches
- Final Group Reading with Celebratory Fiesta Dinner
Optional Added Fee-based Activities:
- 1-hour Massage, with local practitioner
- Temescal women’s sweat lodge, as schedule permits
*What is Temescal? The pre-Hispanic temescal of Mexico was used by the Aztecs, the Zapotecs, the Mixtecs, and the Maya for therapeutic and purification purposes—coming-of-age rites, childbirth, the burial of a relative, and other tribal ceremonies. Temescal comes from the indigenous Nahuatl word temazcalli, meaning “bathhouse.” The temescal is a rectangular or round adobe structure with a vaulted roof. In it volcanic rocks are heated and steam is produced by throwing herbal teas, such as rosemary and eucalyptus, on the rocks. The bather is gently whipped with ritual or medicinal plants. Curanderas, locally trained folk healers perform the ritual.
The Spanish friars fought against this custom during the viceroyalty because they considered mixed-gender bathing inappropriate. Nevertheless, the temescal survived and is still used in certain parts of Mexico, mainly for bathing, for alleviating illness, or for recovery after childbirth. However, there is an increasing interest in reviving the traditional religious aspects of the temescal as part of the country’s heritage.
2016 Exquisite Corpse Poem
The Exquisite Corpse Poem is a collaboration. Each writer in the group contributes a random sentence or phrase that then becomes part of a complete poem. The result is surprising and creative! We do this each year as part of our closing ceremonies for the Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat. For 2015, our mission was different however.
We adapt the Exquisite Corpse Poem based on the game developed by the Parisian Surrealist Movement. Professor Robin Greene, our writing instructor and coach, takes liberties with the concept and edits what we have contributed into something more coherent than abstract, but always beautiful!
Pomegranates and Sacred Words (2016)
Backs of people in a crowd, and a silver, spiky-haired woman
whose body is love, walks among us and among the long-stemmed
green onions, beautiful, white, bundled, by stands of embroidered
aprons, blood-red hibiscus, cheap jewelry, and an indigo, cochineal,
marigold symphony of wool. When the grandmothers leave us, who
will wear red ribbons braided into their waist-long hair? Who will make
tortillas or beat blankets? Are we all the same, with different names,
dos and don’ts, fears and hopes and shopping carts full of papayas
and canna lilies, a tapestry code for I love you, a postcard with a stamp
to send it flying? Today, at Yagul, the mountains breathed with us,
lowering their tongues into our open mouths, and later in town,
a river ran through the street’s cobblestone center, while a Zapotec
woman walking alone, basket balanced on her head, raised her face
to the rain and whispered “remember.” So we leave this village
with gratitude and woven rugs, pomegranates and sacred words
as Picacho, watches over us, inspires us, high above the last light of day.
What Women Say . . . “I better learned how to put together a writerly life. The coaching session will help me stay on track. I enjoyed listening to and evaluating each others’ work. What a great group of women.” –Leslie Larson, California
“I came with the hope of being rejuvenated. I am leaving with a lightness and grounding that is beyond comprehension.” –Rebecca S. King, North Carolina
“The instruction was excellent and supportive. The personal coaching session offered me a chance to talk about my writing in a way I never had before. The workshops are especially valuable because the feedback is so thoughtful.” –Susan Lesser, New York
“I discovered that my writing entertains people! Yoga is the best I have ever experienced. A perfect combo of the physical and spiritual. –LeeAnn Weigold, British Columbia, Canada
“There is amazing resonance between the writing and yoga teaching — vigorous, solid, and accepting.” –Deborah Morris, M.D., North Carolina
“It was all perfect. You gave us a beautiful writing workshop in a beautiful village setting and you also gave us a strong community-of-women bond that will far outlast this conference. Mil gracias!” — Katie Kingston, MFA, Trinidad, Colorado
“The quality of the teachers was stellar and the combination was a perfect fit for me. Robin has a clarity that is lovely, supportive, truth-telling, knowledgeable, superbly skilled. Beth is a beautiful, beautiful teacher. Combining the yoga and sound with writing was profound.” — Nancy Coleman, Portland, Maine
“Robin’s knowledge impressed and guided me throughout the week. She is one of the most generous people, instructors and writers I have ever met. The week gave me the insight to reinvestigate life and write about it.” Kathryn Salisbury, North Carolina
“The week helped with my intention to write my book. There were too many valuable parts to list! We experienced an amazing time together, sweating leaves, meditation, chanting, writing, and honoring our lives. This was an awesome experience.” — Susan Florence, MFA, Ojai, California
“We learned from the other women in the group, from the culture, the language and people in the village. It was magical.” –Bridget Price, Mexico City
Your Writing Workshop Leader: Robin Greene
Robin Greene is the McLean Endowed Professor of English and Writing, and Director of the Writing Center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is also co-founder and senior editor of Longleaf Press, a literary press that publishes contemporary poetry. Greene is the recipient of a NC Arts Council/NEA Fellowship, a university teaching award, and a visiting professorship in Romania. Her work is widely published in literary journals. Greene has served as a writing consultant and has taught creative writing for over two decades. Her books include Real Birth: Women Share their Stories(nonfiction), Memories of Light and Lateral Drift (collections of poetry), and Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman. Greene holds an M.A. in English from SUNY-Binghamton and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. See Robin’s website: www.robingreene-writer.com
Preliminary Workshop Outline
- Friday, March 3, travel day, arrive and check-in. Meet for No-Host Dinner at 7 p.m. (dinner at your own expense)
- Saturday, March 4, introductions, orientation, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. B, L. Dinner OYO.
- Sunday, March 5, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. B, L. Dinner OYO.
- Monday, March 6, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga, B, L. Dinner OYO.
- Tuesday, March 7, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. B. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Wednesday, March 8, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga, B. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Thursday, March 9, yoga, reading preparation session. Gala Fiesta with Reading. B, D.
- Friday, March 10, departure. You may choose to extend your time in Oaxaca City or environs. We can also recommend guides to take you to craft villages if you choose to stay on.
On selected afternoons Norma Schafer will lead you on optional walking visits to artist and artisan studios, city markets, craft galleries, museums and churches. There is plenty to explore here for writing inspiration.
Each Workshop Day includes breakfast, writing sessions, yoga, plus scheduled individual coaching sessions with Professor Robin Greene. Some days also include lunch. Each day you will have choices for how you will spend your time — in retreat to write, to meander historic cobblestone streets and city markets, gather at an outdoor cafe to discuss subject possibilities or work in process. Each evening is free to stroll the Andador, savor Oaxaca’s outstanding cuisine, sample artisanal mezcal or retreat to your room for quiet time.
Special Pop-Up Events!
During the week, we will invite noted artisans and crafts people to come to the B&B for special showings of their work. This might include textiles, alebrijes (carved and painted wood figures), clothing, pottery and other regional crafts.
- $1,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)–4 rooms
- $1,695 single room with private or shared bath (sleeps 1)–3 rooms
There will be a sign-up for massage and temescal appointments after you arrive. You will pay for these services directly to the providers. Costs to be announced.
The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from the airport to our B&B. We will give you detailed instructions for how to get from the Oaxaca airport to our hotel after you register. We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.
Reservations and Cancellations A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The last payment for the balance due (including any add-ons) shall be paid by January 10, 2016. We accept payment with PayPal only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After January 10, refunds are not possible. You may send a substitute in your place. If you cancel before January 10, we will refund 50% of your deposit.
Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance. Proof of insurance must be sent at least two weeks before departure. If you do not wish to do this, we ask you email a PDF of a witnessed waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. Unforeseen circumstances happen!
Workshop Details and Travel Tips. Before the workshop begins, we will email you instructions to get to the workshop site from the airport, and documents that includes extensive travel tips and information. To get your questions answered and to register, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This retreat is produced by Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.
Memoir is a way to express where we are, where we have been and where we are going. Both women and men are welcome to participate. Everyone has an important story to tell.
Arrive Sunday March 13, 2016 and depart Saturday, March 19, 2016.
This six-day intensive writing workshop uses memoir to position the self and understand our worlds. We’ll focus on themes related to life’s journeys, starting with roots and family stories. Using inspiration drawn from food, art, nature, politics and more, we’ll tell our own tales of culture, identity, change, loss and transformation.
As a literary nonfiction genre, memoir represents reminiscence — a story, an event or a turning point. Akin to autobiography, memoir can have more focus and is similar to narrative nonfiction. However you choose to approach it, each of us has a story to tell about the evolution of our life and how we came to this place called now. We open this door to you to bring your memoir to life – to start it, continue it or take it to its rightful conclusion.
Memoir writing raises the issue of truth—is what we remember accurate, and is that even important? Craft and focus allow truth to emerge within the container of writing. Ruth Benedict beautifully said: Experience, contrary to common belief, is mostly imagination. Combining both experience and imagination, we’ll tell our stories.
We will also learn and explore classic and traditional memoir forms, including the letter, the list, the diary, personal essay, and the haibun (poetry with prose). Expect examples from the ancient world, Japan, Mexico, and contemporary literature.
In addition, there will be an emphasis on revision and completion, and on writing for an audience. We include an overview of markets for memoir, including short pieces, personal blogs, and independent publishers. Each participant will also meet with Miriam privately for a personal review and coaching session.
About Workshop Leader Miriam Sagan
Miriam Sagan, associate professor in creative writing at Santa Fe (NM) Community College, where she created and directs the creative writing program, is our memoir writing workshop leader. Miriam has over twenty-five award-winning books of memoir, poetry and fiction published with academic presses, independent publishers, and well-known literary presses. Honors include a New Mexico Book Award, Best Memoir of the Year from Independent Publishers Association, Pushcart Prize nominations, and a finalist from New Mexico PEN women, and Mountains and Plains Booksellers.
She has taught workshops at the Aspen Writer’s Conference, Taos Institute of Arts, Wheaton College, Antioch College, Colorado College, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the Border Book Festival.
A versatile author, Miriam Sagan’s published books include poetry, fiction, memoir as well as writing techniques. In the past several years, she has participated in mixed-media installations that include writing, poetry and art.
Miriam’s work has appeared in over 200 magazines in the United States, Canada, England, Japan, and France, including: Agni Review, American Poetry Review, Blue Mesa Review, Boston Phoenix, Christian Science Monitor, Exquisite Corpse, Family Circle, Fish Drum, Frank, Hollis Critic, Indiana Review, Luna, Mademoiselle Magazine, Maenad, Mothering Magazine, Ms. Magazine, New Mexico Humanities Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Paragraph, Permafrost, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Now, Poets On, The Sun, Yellow Silk, and West Branch.
She is editor of Another Desert: Jewish Poetry of New Mexico, Sherman Asher Publishing 1998, with Joan Logghe; and New Mexico Poetry Renaissance: 41 Poets, a Community on Paper, Red Crane, 1994, with Sharon Niederman. Benjamin Franklin Award.
Miriam Sagan holds degrees in writing and English from Harvard University and Boston University.
Her blog, Miriam’s Well, has a thousand daily readers. The blog has published and promoted the work of hundreds of writers and artists, with a special emphasis on Santa Fe’s West Side and Railyard neighborhoods
About Norma Schafer
Norma Schafer has produced arts and educational programs in Oaxaca, Mexico, through Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC since 2006. She is a published writer and photographer. The workshops she organizes are attended by participants from throughout the U.S., Canada and from as far as Australia. During her twenty-five year career in higher education, Norma has produced national award-winning programs for Indiana University, University of Virginia, George Washington University, and The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She holds the B.A. from California State University at Northridge and the M.S. from the University of Notre Dame.
The Workshop Schedule
Our location is inspiring and tranquil. You are immersed in an indigenous village with 8,000 years of language, history and culture.
Sunday, March 13: Arrive and check-in to our Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, B&B inn. Informal supper included for those who arrive by 8 p.m. (D)
Monday, March 14 to Friday, March 18: After breakfast, meet for learning session and workshop. The workshop is time to give and take feedback about works in progress. Take a lunch break and then use the afternoon for independent writing and/or to explore this ancient Zapotec village. Dinner is daily at 7:30 p.m. You may want to gather on the rooftop terrace to watch the sunset, sip a refreshment and talk with instructor and participants, or spend your time in evening writing and reflection.
Friday, March 18: End-of-Workshop Evening Celebration and Reading – an opportunity to select your best of week work to read before the group.
Saturday, March 19: After breakfast, leave for home or continue your travels independently.
What Is Included
For participants in residence, daily 8:30 a.m. breakfast and 7:20 p.m. dinner are included in your workshop fee. Daily lunch is on your own. The workshop includes all instruction, a private coaching session with Miriam, and the gala celebration dinner. For non-resident participants, lodging and meals are not included except noted below.
During the week, we will schedule optional outings that are sure to inspire your creativity: cooking class, temescal sweat lodge, Zapotec massage, weaving and natural dye demonstrations, local hikes, visits to nearby archeological sites and more. We will send more details and costs of these activities to you before the workshop starts.
About Lodging and Accommodations
Our workshop is in the rural Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle. Yes, there is Internet connection and coffee shops that prepare good cappuccino and chai latte! The bed and breakfast inn where we stay is a family home within a large patio. Accommodations are clean and basic. We offer a few rooms with private bath. Other rooms share a guest bath across the courtyard.
Non-Resident Participant: $695 per person, does not include lodging or meals. It includes all instruction, one private one-hour coaching session, one gala dinner.
Resident Participant: A limited number of double occupancy rooms with private bath, and single occupancy rooms with private bath are available. Please indicate your preference below. Requests are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
[ ] $795 per person, shared room, double occupancy with shared bath.
[ ] $995 per person, shared room, double occupancy, with private bath.
[ ] $1,095 per person, single room with private bath.
Residency Program cost includes 6 nights lodging, 6 breakfasts, 6 dinners, all instruction, one private coaching session for one-hour.
The program does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city.
Reservations and Cancellations
A 50% deposit guarantees your reservation. The last payment for the balance due (including any supplemental costs) shall be made by January 15, 2016. We use PayPal for all deposits and final payments. Tell us you are ready to register and we will send you an invoice for the deposit.
If cancellation is necessary, please notify us in writing by email. After January 15, 2016, no refunds are possible. However, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space. If you cancel before January 15, 2016, we will refund 50% of your deposit.
Required Travel and Medical Insurance
We require that you take out an international travel insurance policy that includes $500,000 of emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip. We will ask for proof of purchase. Thank you for understanding since unforeseen circumstances are possible and that’s what “accidents” are.
To get your questions answered and to register, contact: email@example.com
Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, produces this workshop.
Perhaps you have noticed, or not, that my name on the masthead of this blog has changed to Schafer. I thought I might offer an explanation. If you don’t care, just stop reading, delete this post and Move On. This is not about Oaxaca or Mexico or my recent trip to Spain. This is personal. In my creative writing and the work I have published on Minerva Rising, I have learned to write from the depths.
When I married in 2002, I took my husband’s surname. This is something neither of his first two wives had done. In doing so, I believed it would honor him and signal a strong commitment to this union.
Many years earlier, I had taken another man’s name when it was conventional custom and after the dissolving of this first marriage, I kept that name for a very long time because it also belonged to my son.
The man I married in 2002 became my recent ex-husband. He was Husband Number Two. I was Wife Number Three. Soon, friends told me, there will be a Wife Number Four. I realized it is time for me to put that identity completely behind. Some said, it’s a nice name, you can keep it. But names are symbolic of something else.
As a woman, I have always carried a man’s name, starting with the name of my father. I never liked my father’s name although I loved him very much. It is awkward to say, lengthy, unusual and must be spelled at each introduction. For me, it never fit.
My mother’s family name has resonance. I experimented with spelling (just like they did at Ellis Island) first selecting Shafer. I tacked it on to the married name to ease into a public transition to change. How long does it take? Maybe a year? Do readers even notice? I wasn’t sure. Now, easing into another name is not an option.
What I also know is that I also want to reclaim my identity through my last name. The spelling Schafer makes sense. It means scribe, an ancient Jewish record-keeper, then later a theologian or jurist. I am a contemporary record-keeper of Oaxaca art, culture, history, etc. I document what I experience through photographs and words.
I researched various spellings of my mother’s family name that has both German and Ashkenazi Jewish origins, and made a choice. Please join me in celebration of Norma Schafer and new beginnings.
Please let me know if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, I am leaving North Carolina, returning to Northern California to visit my 99-year old mother and sister, and then will get back to Mexico in early June. It’s been quite a journey.
We have been SOLD OUT for months, but today I received two cancellations for the 2015 Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat that starts March 6, 2015. That means we have TWO SPACES OPEN now. If you have been thinking about expressing your creative self and escaping winter, this could be the workshop you are looking for. Let me know if you are interested in registering! We would love to have you with us.