Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Sara Bennett

The plot. Fighting Words is a creative writing centre open to students of all ages. We work with elementary school children in the mornings, secondary school students in the afternoons and with adults in the evenings. Our programmes cover all types of writing …. We believe that everyone has a story inside them and our job is to help them to tell it.

Opening chapter. Fighting Words was set up by the author Roddy Doyle and Sean Love, the former executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, in early 2008.  I had worked with Sean as Human Resources and Administration Manager at Amnesty for five years, a role which included managing the volunteer programme. We opened our doors in January 2009 and the centre has been an immediate success.

The daily muse. I get energized knowing that when I go to work every day that the students will create a brand new story and that it will be hilarious.  I also really enjoy working with all our volunteers, who are passionate about helping students to tell their stories. I also credit my Wheaton experience with giving me the faith in myself to look beyond my immediate environment for my postgraduate study and career.

Major connection. I loved my major at Wheaton, which was history.  I took several courses in English literature with Professor Sam Coale that really helped me to appreciate American novels and poetry, as well as a course in children’s literature with Professor Bev Clark that I truly loved.

After graduation. I participated in the Work in Britain programme sponsored by the British American North America Clubs (BUNAC), which provided a six-month work visa to work in the UK. I found out about the Work in Britain programme at the Filene Centre for Work and Learning. After I returned to the U.S., I worked in Boston for about two years before starting a master’s degree in medieval history at Trinity College Dublin in September 1996.  As I planned to study Irish and Scottish history, it made sense to study in Ireland. It was also much cheaper than similar master’s programmes in the U.S.! I graduated with an M.Phil. in 1998. I met my husband Cormac while at Trinity and have been in Ireland ever since.

Lasting Wheaton. I’m still in regular contact with many of my Wheaton friends and I try to see one or two when I return to Connecticut for visits.  I also credit my Wheaton experience with giving me the faith in myself to look beyond my immediate environment for my postgraduate study and career.

When I’m not at Fighting Words. I like to spend time with my family: Cormac and my daughter Máiréad (who is ten) and my son Éamonn, who is nine months old.  With a new baby in the house, I’m fairly busy! I also love history, politics and music.  I’ve also been active at my daughter’s school, serving on the Board of Management.   I really look forward to seeing my family in the US once a year (twice if I’m lucky!).