Writing retreats are a staple of nGAP life. These quarterly events are held at local conference venues and provide ideal conditions for writing, reflection and connection. Early in October nGAP lecturers and mentors attended a retreat at the Zevenwacht Wine Estate, Kuils River.
One of the main goals of the nGAP programme is the successful completion of a doctoral degree. The writing retreats provide a chance for sustained writing, and many take advantage of this, waking up early and burning the midnight oil. But there is also time for chatting and socialising. This is central to the nGAP mission of developing a new generation of academics, one that is inserted into new intellectual networks and brings new energy and enthusiasm to the academic enterprise.
The achievement of these goals is attested by the feedback from participants at the retreat.
“Thanks again for organising a wonderful retreat – it was a great opportunity to get stuck into some writing without ‘life’ distractions!”
“I truly have a great time at the retreats, and you make it all possible for me to get the opportunity.”
“The quiet and beautiful surroundings were amazing. The atmosphere was relaxed and conducive to focusing on my goal. Literature searches and paper reading require solid blocks of time, which are difficult to find in the everyday work environment, so this dedicated time is particularly helpful. Thanks for a great retreat!”
“With the nGAP writing retreat I was able to have a productive, quiet space to do some writing. Being in a remote place with nothing but concentrating on writing without disturbances is productive.”
“I enjoy catching up with the nGAPpers at the retreats.”
“Attending the Writing Retreat was an amazing opportunity! It offered a dedicated and focused period with little to no distractions. I particularly enjoyed working in a comfortable, serene environment. Best of all, however, I treasured the opportunity it provided to reconnect with self and others through great conversations over lunch and dinner table. It was an excellent time to build a collegial spirit among fellow ‘nGAPpers’ and to catch up on what has been happening in their lives, other than academics.”
The retreats also invite nGAP mentors to connect with their mentees. This is mutually beneficial.
One mentee reflects: “It is a good opportunity to be with the mentor and see what it entails to be an academic”.
And an attending mentor wrote about the “privilege” of attending and the luxury of “the unhurried conversations that promote understanding and generate ideas”.
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