The Authenticity Experiment: Speaking English Improvisationally

In life, "we are not asked if we will play. That is not an option. Play we must. The option is how." -Anthony De Mello 
How will we “play” the ins-and-outs of our lives? We have choices. Daily, I repeat this mantra – WE HAVE CHOICES –   to the international students in my class, "Speaking English Improvisationally," at the Georgia Tech Language Institute. During our 36 hours of class time over a two-month period, we explore how to communicate authentically through improvisation activities. We have within our reach at any moment a vast range of communication options available when speaking in English. 

As literally and figuratively “players” on a world stage, I invite these international professionals and students to "play" around with both their physical and vocal range to see what they can discover about who they “might be” when they are speaking English while living and participating in American culture. As most of us know, each language and culture has i…

Why Teach Improv in the ESL Classroom: The Expert and the Interpreter

Why teach improvisation in the ESL classroom? I combine both typical improvisation activities and my expertise in InterPlay, which is an active creative improvisational system that unlocks the wisdom of the body, allows the trained educator to do the following: -tap students’ creativity -implement students’ personal material -request a different level of student investment which can be powerful and playful. -involve students in the creative process which is stimulating and health promoting. -allow students to respond to information immediately (current issues, interests, and concerns) -impact students’ lives beyond the classroom by building confidence and personal sense of power and providing skills to deal with the unexpected Here, in this activity, "The Expert and the Interpreter," international students are engaged in listening to each other - really listening. They are asked to read and attempt to understand the body language of the experts who are speaking in their…
What is GLOBAL SIS: INTERPLAY? Global SIS: InterPlay is a two-hour online “playshop” using the Zoom platform. Global SIS began in November 2019 to stay connected with sisters around the world once they leave Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and our community of Sustaining International Sisters (SIS). 
SIS has been bringing together international and American women living in the Metro-Atlanta area since October 2018 for four hours of "play and potluck" on the first Saturday of each month. Canan Arikan and I, Ruth Schowalter, are the InterPlay facilitators. We use the forms and tools of InterPlay during our gatherings which allow women to connect, share, inspire and learn from one another. 
We discovered after a solid year of InterPlaying and meal sharing with Georgia Tech Visiting Scholars Yue and Tianqi from China, that we couldn’t just say “good-bye” to them when it was time for them to return to their country. We knew we had to stay in touch! 
Thank goodness for the internet! Hurray fo…

GLOBAL SIS: InterPlays with Guiding Words

Happy New Year to Global SIS: InterPlay! Fourteen of us women jumped into our first online connection on Saturday, January 18th, 2020. 

Four women from China, two from Japan, one from Italy met with those of us living on Eastern Standard Time in the United States. Still we were diverse - with one woman from Iran and my collaborator Canan Arikan from Turkey. We American women signed in from North Carolina, Atlanta, Florida, and Washington, DC.

Our specific goal for this 2-hour online global sister gathering was to find a guiding word for 2020 through play - storytelling, drawing, moving, and noticing. Of course, it almost goes without saying that we also have the goal to learn, inspire, and connect with one another; thus experiencing the warmth and sustenance of global sisterhood.

Using Zoom as the platform for our playshop (thank you to national InterPlay for the use of their Body Wisdom account), we dove into breakout rooms on three different occasions. Paired and placed in different on…

GLOBAL SIS Playground: Meeting Without Walls

We are together in a room without walls, yet we feel connected. We are women from eight different countries engaging in online “embodied play” in the spaces of our own homes, offices, or classrooms. We are from China, Turkey, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States listening to our body wisdom, moving, and telling our stories. We are Global SIS: InterPlay, and we are gracing each other’s lives across various times on the world clock in the internet’s ethersphere by engaging in InterPlay!

For me, co-facilitating this second online Global SIS fills me with peace, light, love – and ultimately – the kind of life I desire to live. It is fulfilling work to shape and hold a space for women worldwide so they can be more authentically themselves while getting to know other women who are both different and similar to them. 
I am an InterPlay leader, artist, educator, and a SIS — Sustaining International Sister — co-founder with one of my former students, Canan Arikan…

SIS Savoring the Gifts of 2019

What gifts did 2019 bring you? What do you want to savor and remember from this past year? What do you want to release? Sustaining International Sisters (SIS) of InterPlay Atlanta played with these questions at their December "play and potluck."  More than 30 women from around the world came together for an evening of connection, learning, and inspiration in the home of a Turkish SISter, Guldane, in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA. We had women from Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, China, South Korea, Jamaica, Brazil, and the United States. We have learned what our Muslim SISters can (halal) and cannot eat (pork) and are getting really good at explaining and marking the the dishes we bring so everyone eats according to their dietary needs and preferences.  After feasting on delicious international foods, we SISters engaged in 90 minutes of InterPlaytelling stories about 2019 and whatever else came up as we paired with different partners, moved, spoke in made up languages and relaxed. 
A luxuri…

First GLOBAL SIS: InterPlay Launched!

Our first “Global” SIS brought tears to more than one sister’s eyes. Some tears were of self-discovery, some of loss caused by the distance after returning home to their countries from Atlanta, some of recognition of how we can connect with each other from around the world through the “mysterious” ways of InterPlay no matter the difference in culture and languages.
Imagine women from around the globe coming together online to do InterPlay together! That’s what we Sustaining International Sisters (SIS) did on Saturday, November 16th, 2019! “Global” Sustaining International Sisters (SIS): InterPlay had its first playdate online! Yes! Using computer technology!
To play together we had to juggle a world clock with a vast range of time differences! We two Global SIS facilitators, Canan Arikan and I (Ruth Schowalter), live on Eastern Standard (EST) Time in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and coordinated the start time to be at 8:30 AM in the morning.  We wanted to make sure our Saudi sister and InterP…