Memoirs course offered at WNCC
A surge of student interest prompted Professor Marilee Swirczek to add a new English course, “Memoir and Autobiography,” to the spring curriculum at Western Nevada Community College.
“They approached me because they wanted to turn their life story into something readable,” Swirczek said. ” Maybe it’s the turn of the century; people are starting to be more introspective.”
Swirczek said that some of her students will write about troubled childhoods, such as living through the Great Depression, and others, like herself, will write about what she called “a fairy-tale childhood.”
However, she said they will all be linked by one common desire.
“What is going to be the common thread is that each writer is going to feel that there is something in their history that should not be forgotten,” Swirczek said. “It is my mission to help them discover that truth that should not be forgotten.”
WNCC student Jan Hill said she saw a flier advertising the course and decided to take it.
“I am from a Canadian family that were pioneers in Alberta,” Hill said. “I was interested in how to go about doing the research and writing about the characters in my story.”
She added, “It should be interesting, if not to anybody but myself.”
Hill is not the only one who has an interesting story to tell.
“Everyone has a story,” Swirczek said. “In fact, everyone has many stories and what they need is someone who can coax those stories out.”
She said she is coming to class prepared with various writing and memory exercises that will help the students “mine the archeological dig of memories.”
However, Swirczek will not only teach the course but will also be working on her own memoir.
“It will be a process of discovery for all of us,” she said. “I am more or less a fellow student and writing coach.”
Swirczek is writing a continuation of the family history that her mother and aunt have started.
Her mother’s family emigrated from Italy to the United States when her mother was 6 years old.
Swirczek’s aunt wrote “Progenitor,” a book that told the story of the family while living in Italy.
Her mother is writing about the transition to American life and having to learn a new culture and language.
Swirczek is writing as a first-generation child born in the United States and growing up in northwestern Pennsylvania.
“They kind of look to me to write the last chapter,” she said.
As part of the course, students will be able to write a memoir, an autobiography or transform their life stories into fiction.
The course will be offered Tuesdays from 2-5 p.m. beginning Jan. 24. There will be no registration fee for Nevada residents 62 and over.