Trinity Writing Course Promotes Student Engagement in Hartford Community

‘Writing Broad Street Stories’ Fosters a Deeper Understanding of Diversity

Hartford, Connecticut, November 6, 2015 – Writing Broad Street Stories is a unique course that offers Trinity students the opportunity to become involved with the Hartford community and use those experiences to write personal reflections and fictional narratives.

Professor Robert Peltier has taught the course for the past 18 years in the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric. “It’s an important course, because those students who take it learn about the lives of others who may be of a different social class from ours, a different color from ours, a different gender, or sexual orientation from ours,” Peltier said. The course is part of Trinity’s Community Learning Initiative, which strives to integrate academic coursework with hands-on projects in Hartford.

Over the years, students have participated in the community in a variety of creative ways. “Perhaps the student with the most interesting community engagement, an international student from Italy, swept floors and did other menial tasks in an off-the-books tattoo parlor,” Peltier said. “He really got to know neighborhood people.”

​Carrie Morgan ’19 (third from left), with students in the Kennelly Mentoring Program.
 The course changes each year – sometimes slightly, sometimes drastically – depending on the community engagements and ideas of the students. This semester many of the students are involved in education, either within the classroom or in afterschool programs. A majority of students in the class have gotten involved with different schools around Hartford, and two students work with Capitol Squash, a program that combines squash with academic tutoring for Hartford youths. 

Before each class, students are asked to write exploratory papers about their experiences and interactions with people in the neighborhood. Peltier said, “Writing is a generative process, and it creates new knowledge that mere experience would not have done.” Students thus develop a deeper understanding of community issues in the United States by becoming more actively engaged within the microcosm of Hartford.

Written by Eleanor Worsley ’17