Since 2010, I have thrice offered a course called “Writing about Travel” for students who have undertaken significant experience away from the Oberlin campus, as on a study-away program. As I tell my students, the work we do in this course is not focused on helping them create travel writing about this hotel or that beach but is rather designed to help them reflect on their experiences away and to help shape that experience into something readers will learn from and enjoy. The process is usually very rewarding for students; they get a chance to move beyond pat answers about their experiences in India or Japan and, at the same time, to throw themselves into the techniques of narrative, explorations of form, and the adventure of trying to craft prose that both reflects their experience and is appealing to readers.
Since I first started teaching this class in 2010, I have collected student work in a print “zine.” In the last two iterations of the class, student writing from this zine has made up a significant part of our reading list. Indeed, my students and I both find that often student work engages in issues that a lot of popularly published travel writing omits, such as ethical issues in tourism, immigration as a form of travel, and questions of race and gender. My students sometimes remark that they find other students’ work much more compelling than some of the published examples. I am confident that this work will appeal to people beyond Oberlin’s circle and am eager to provide a venue and a perspective that offers something quite different from, say, the annual Best American Travel Writing series.