From Pete Barraza, SYI Director:
On Wednesday of this week, the SMMUSD school board approved the 2016-17 Steinbeck Youth Institute, a 5-day program rooted in academic inquiry and application modeled after the NEH Steinbeck Institute for educators across the country. This year’s Institute will take place from Thursday, October 6th, through Monday, October 10th. We will stay in San Luis Obispo Thursday, October 6th, and head to Salinas on Friday morning. We will then stay in Pacific Grove for next three nights, as the location is ideal for the work we will be doing in the Monterey area. As previously discussed with each of the prospective roster members, this intention requires a major commitment, particularly as this year’s group will set the tone for years to come in terms of publishing both creative and academic work as ambassadors of intellectual curiosity. As a faculty member of the NEH Steinbeck Institute for educators, I am so excited to finally be able to create this experience for a group of high school students ready to conduct focused research and field work related to the ecological, agrarian, historical, communal, artistic, and cultural issues found in John Steinbeck’s works. This year’s group will do archival work at the National Steinbeck Center (a rare privilege), spend time at the Stanford Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, and visit a number of literary centers of gravity, such as the Robinson Jeffers Tor House in Carmel. In the spring, the SYI will attempt to publish academic and creative work with my assistance along with the mentorship of Susan Shillinglaw, director of the National Steinbeck Center and author of several Steinbeck-related texts, including the introductions to Cannery Row and Of Mice and Men for Penguin Classics.
The itinerary for this October is shaping out to be a very special one, as it currently includes doing archival work, having lunch at Steinbeck’s childhood home, spending time in the Pacific Biological Lab on Cannery Row (Doc’s lab), visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a whale-watching excursion in the Monterey Bay, an early nature walk at Point Lobos, a number of special dinners with keynote speakers, and several seminar-based discussions driven by essential readings. The itinerary will continue to shape out over the next few weeks, as it is likely to also include a visit to Big Sur. I am hopeful that you will be able to be a part of this very unique endeavor.