Joan Wang is the Editor-in-Chief of Homer’s Roamers, a publication featuring collection of internationally-oriented creative works produced by students. Homer's Roamers is still accepting written and visual creative submissions from students who have traveled abroad while at Reed.
MW: What motivated your idea for Homer’s Roamers?
JW: It’s a very personal project, based the perspective I came to while having to transition back to Reed after traveling abroad. As an interdisciplinary math and economics major I had to work hard to my fit travel abroad aspirations into my academic plan. I spent the first semester of my junior year in Budapest and the second semester in northern France. I was back in Portland this summer, trying to readjust and study for my quals. For most of the summer, I didn't feel ready to talk about my experiences. I realized that was mostly due to my own confusion and inability to digest my thoughts and feelings, let alone express them gracefully to an audience. Questions like "How was Budapest? How was France?" always frighten me. I've tried to come up with several generic responses that are sincere enough but still remain on a superficial level, only adequate for small-talk conversations. It has been hard to share pieces of my study abroad experience even with some of my closest friends at Reed. I realized that true sharing takes place spontaneously, especially for conversations about travel. It has to be organic. I wondered if there was another way to provoke active thinking and reflection on these incredible experiences that gives both the sharer and the audience enough time and solitude to process on their own terms? My answer is Homer’s Roamers.
MW:What is your vision for Homer’s Roamers?
We want to have the first review published in spring. Right now, we are looking for creative pieces of text, poetry, short stories, or visual artwork, such as photography, or paintings. We want these pieces to be about internationally oriented experiences students have had while at Reed.That means we’re not focusing on gap years before Reed, or anything that happened before a student’s first year at Reed.That means featuring experiences about studying, traveling, living, working or generally roaming abroad, and not anything that happened before a student’s first year at Reed or after graduation. For example, people who take gap years while a student at Reed as well as summer internships abroad are welcome to submit their works. We also think it’s crucial to include international students and their perspectives. They have at once an international and a Reed identity, that we would like to be expressed. We’re going to have a website for digital media as well.
If I were to give a summary for the goals of the publication it would be: First, to create a forum for those who have these international experiences to exchange ideas between themselves. Second, to provide a creative way to share experiences with rest of the Reed community, and the broader community. Third, to introduce those Reedies interested in having international experiences to the possibilities.
MW:How does Homer’s Roamers select works to publish?
JW: We have a review board process to select submissions. Members will review anonymous works that are submitted, so the process is completely impartial. What I want to emphasize is that we’re not as exclusive as the current creative review. We want this to be an eclectic, inclusive work. We will try to work with people who make the submissions. For example, if a photo needs to have a higher quality, or a short story needs some editing, we will work with the person to get their work published.
We want high quality in terms of the finished publication itself. We’re putting a lot of thought into how to work well with negative space, for example (Contact Jennifer McNeal for art details). We’re aiming for a clean, beautiful publication that carries a lot of diverse thoughts and expressions.
MW: What would you like to see as a result of Homer’s Roamers?
JW: We want this to be a fun, creative publication that initiates conversation about how to travel abroad, what the possibilities are, how to find and pool resources to be able to have international experiences while at Reed.
I believe a lot of conversations about travel come up spontaneously, but I think a barrier to that at Reed is that we are so busy, and we’re always engaged in talk about other intellectual things the opportunity for those spontaneous conversations is very limited. I hope this publication will help those conversations to be sparked more easily.
I think the community would really like to see something like this, to have a means to hear about what Reedies are doing abroad. Either from an academic standpoint, as travel provides alternative educational enrichment, or just generally, I think people would enjoy having access to reflections from Reedies about their experiences abroad.
MW:Many Reedies believe it is too difficult to travel abroad during their time at Reed—what would you say to this?
JW: As Reedies, we take pride in our ability to make things happen. If someone really wants to study abroad, it can almost always be done. I’m on an off-campus study program committee, and while in the past there has not been a lot of student involvement, this year I’m trying to bring that student perspective to the committee. I want the committee to be considering what students need from study abroad programs.
The problem is, I think frequently the rigorous curriculum leads students to not even consider international travel as a possibility, but I believe that if students are thinking about this idea, and they’re thinking far enough ahead, and they do enough research, any trip can almost always be done.
A lot of Reedies want to take full advantage of being at Reed while at Reed, which is why I think our study abroad programs tend not to be as popular as at other colleges. I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but its important to point out that there are people who want to be successful Reedies and also have international experiences.
MW:What was your process for putting together this publication?
JW: I need to thank the current editors of the creative review. I talked to Danielle about how the creative review process worked and she gave me a lot of important tips about how to make my publication doable
Most of my friends in my class studied abroad their junior year. In fact, a very significant number of students from my class studied abroad that year. So I had a lot of friends in same position as I was, in wanting to find a space to express their experiences upon returning to Reed. I started talking about my idea, and I generated a small team of people who interested in helping put the publication together. Two of them studied abroad, two of them are international students, one of whom traveled abroad during the summer as well. We had a total of 5 people making up the core team. We now have 11 members.
I set up a table at the community fair and generated some interested and publicity there. There is a core group of people who have demonstrated they are really interested, but I bet there are a ton more with experiences they want to share that haven’t emerged yet.
I started talking to Paul DeYoung, and he’s the first strong support we have from a staff member. Now we are working on getting submissions. I’m working on getting a budget, figuring out what our numbers are going to be and how we’re allocating funds. I’m hoping for support from college offices, like the language department, student activities, the president’s office, parent and alumni relations, and more. We want to appeal to as many people as possible. The more people willing to help, the better this will be. I want this to be brought to a lot of different places.
MW: How do students make submissions?
JW: Homers Roamers invites submissions in the fall and publishes in the spring. We will also launch a web publication that includes digital media. We are accepting submissions on a rolling basis from now until December 1st at midnight. Please direct all submissions, questions, and comments to email@example.com.