What I Did This Summer - Win Bassett, MAR '15

YDS students do a number of interesting things over the summer, and Win Bassett MAR '15 had a very interesting summer indeed, combining the CPE experience with a phenomenal opportunity at a writing conference.  He'll tell you about it, as well as discuss how he blended his opportunities to include visiting schools as part of our Educational Leadership in Ministry Program.  Thanks Win! 

I wrote, read, and talked about feelings. A unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (Level I or Level II) is at least 400 hours, and structured group and individual education with supervised clinical practice comprises at least 100 of these hours. The CPE program at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, where I worked this summer, required writing verbatim accounts of patient encounters, process notes for weekly individual supervision, and tales about one's life for story theology sessions. My fellow chaplain interns and I read each other's work every week and sat down with our supervisor to talk about, among other items, how the writings made us feel, what we included and what we left out, why we told a particular story, how we told our stories, and why we told our stories this way at this particular time.


If this sounds more like a writing workshop than pastoring sick folks in a hospital, it's because I chose to tell it this way to segue into another significant experience I had this summer. I received acceptance into the 2014 Virginia Quarterly Review Writers’ Conference as a Literature Scholar, and my CPE supervisor was gracious enough to excuse me from work for a few days to attend. My application to the conference (with the theme of "Southern Literature") came under the poetry track, and this year's faculty member was Beth Ann Fennelly, an acclaimed poet and teacher in the MFA program at the University of Mississippi.


In addition to workshopping my poems with Beth Ann and four fellow (and talented) poetry participants, I heard craft talks from the likes of novelist Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) and readings from poet Claudia Emerson (2006 Pulitzer Prize for Late Wife) and novelist Richard Bausch (Before, During, After). You can read more about the weekend with these conference faculty members and guests in my VQR Writers' Conference blog posts.


My summer wasn't over, however, after the conference. I still had a week left of CPE, and I managed to fit in a few more visits to schools in the area. I'm in the Educational Leadership and Ministry (ELM) program at Yale Divinity School, and because I want to head back south after graduation to begin a life of ministry in schools, I visited as many independent schools as possible in the Charlottesville and Nashville areas (I was in the Music City three times this summer). Since May, I was able to visit Woodberry Forest School, Blue Ridge School, Field School, St. Anne's-Belfield School, Montgomery Bell Academy, and University School of Nashville before returning to New Haven in late August to begin my second year.