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Ming Holden
A creative writer, artist, and international development worker, Ming Holden was invited by the US Embassy to Suriname to a diplomatic speaking engagement under the U.S. Speakers Program for 2014 Women's History Month. (Here is the press release.) In 2011, she founded the Survival Girls, a self-sustaining theater group for young Congolese women in the slums of Nairobi. Her book about the experience, the nonfiction novella The Survival Girls, came out in 2013 through Wolfram Productions. Ming also won the USAID worldwide essay contest for inclusion in the USAID Frontiers in Development publication alongside work by Bill Gates, Indra Noori, Paul Collier, and others. Her essay about the Survival Girls got some love from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself in the book’s introduction! (Ming’s writing about the Girls was also nominated for the AWP Intro Award for Nonfiction.)

Ming served the Mongolian Writers Union as its first-ever International Relations Adviser during her year as a Henry Luce Scholar in Mongolia and worked towards the formation of a Mongolia PEN Center. She has since returned to Mongolia to work for The Asia Foundation on a literary translation and advocated for an exiled Chinese writer in Turkey at the Writers and Literary Translators International Congress 2010, where she was the youngest presenter and one of the only Americans. Ming won Glimmer Train's 2013 Family Matters story contest and The Chattahoochee Review's 2013 nonfiction contest, and her nonfiction has placed as a finalist or runner-up for the annual nonfiction prizes at Arts & Letters, Passages North, and the Crab Orchard Review. While an undergraduate at Brown University (’07), Ming co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Brown Literary Review.

Ming is the recipient of the Herman Wells Graduate Fellowship, Indiana University’s most prestigious student award, designated for “leadership abilities, character, social consciousness, and generosity of spirit,” and the Woon-Joon Yoon Memorial Fellowship, for “students who have exemplified tolerance and understanding across racial and religious lines through service, personal commitment, academic achievement and future potential.” (Here’s the press release for the Wells.) Ming’s poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, photography, and literary translations have appeared in Alchemy, Arts & Letters, Crab Orchard Review, Cerise Press, The Best American Poetry Blog, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Huffington Post, Molotov Cocktail, Passages North, Peaches and Bats, The Poker, Prospect, the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, The Santa Barbara Independent, Slice Magazine’s blog, and others. She taught a cross-genre workshop at the Richard Hugo House. Last fall she played Janey in the Plaza Playhouse production of Calamity Jane in Carpinteria, and over the summer played the role of Reika in Dijo Productions' Ghetto. She can next be seen in Plaza Playhouse's Old Time Radio Show as several characters, including the time-traveling stripper Helen La Tour.

Ming has worked in community development Russia (at the Silver Taiga Sustainable Forestry Foundation); Syria (with Every Syrian); Turkey and Syria (independently); Ecuador (at the CEMOPLAF family planning clinic); Bolivia (at the Rio Beni Health Project); Mongolia (at The Asia Foundation and the Mongolian Writers Union); Kenya (at the UNHCR and with the Golden Globe Foundation); Suriname (through the American Embassy); and also in New York (at Archipelago Books) and California (at People Helping People).

A Recipient of the University of California's Special Regents Fellowship, Ming is currently pursuing a PhD in the Theater and Dance Department. She was a part of the pilot Graduate Affiliate Fellow program at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, and this year she is the teaching assistant and research assistant for the Odyssey Project, which brings incarcerated young men to the UCSB campus for a theater workshop.

A list of Ming’s publications is here. A list of her honors and awards is here.

She’s got profiles in all the usual places: LinkedIn, Picasa, Youtube, & Facebook.

Entries by Ming Holden

Women's History Month Through One Woman's History

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2015 | 12:49 PM

One year ago, the United States Government invited me to Suriname through the U.S. Speakers Program in recognition of Women's History Month. I spent a week in that balmy, tiny South American country -- which is nestled above Brazil and between Guyana and French Guiana; where the various...

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The Odyssey Project: Incarcerated Youth Bring a Classic to the Stage at UCSB

(1) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 6:58 PM

An incarcerated teen performs as Odysseus

We've lost our Cyclops.

The boys shuffle in from the bright Isla Vista heat outside, eight teenagers (or "campers") dressed in the navy blue polo shirt, slacks, and black-and-white converse sneakers that constitute the uniform...

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Adriana Reyes: Behind Heartbreaking Photos of Syria and Jordan

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 8:26 PM

Young Syrian refugee in Atmeh "Olive Tree" Refugee Camp, Syria (All photos featured here were taken by Adriana Reyes and are being used here with her permission.)

Last summer, I crossed the Turkey-Syria border into Syria to visit Atmeh Refugee...

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The Kardashian Index: On the "How" and "Why" of International Development Work

(1) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 10:51 AM

"Why are we here?" I asked Michael as the Jeep hydroplaned again. We were in Costa Rica, although Michael (aka Michael Solis, an international development worker) was based in Nicaragua at Trócaire, an Irish organization that has assisted nearly 3 million people in need. In between...

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What I Learned On The Ground In Syria

(2) Comments | Posted September 9, 2013 | 10:52 AM

I am anti-war. That's precisely why I support a US strike in Syria.

Atmeh Camp, Syria, 2013 (author's photo)

I took the above photo in Syria's Atmeh refugee camp, but my encounters with Syrians began before I crossed the border earlier this...

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An Interview With Brown Moses, UK-Based Syria Weapons Tracking Pioneer

(1) Comments | Posted June 14, 2013 | 2:31 PM


Higgins's own photo of his interview with Channel 4 news

There aren't just citizen journalists now, sending out YouTube clips to the world. Where Syria is concerned, there are now citizen analysts, scouring that footage for weapons tracking. One of them, Eliot Higgins, is...

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Redefining the Female Role Model

(2) Comments | Posted February 15, 2013 | 4:40 PM

"What's Sex Got To Do With It" by Jody Joldersma, reprinted here with her permission

Today was bright white, as I've come to appreciate about Seattle. I feared dark days. Instead, the ocean near the Paccar Pavilion was lit up by...

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Be Mine, Except in International Development

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2013 | 3:04 PM

Valentine's Day is upon us, and those little candy hearts pervasively sugaring the public sphere with the words "Be Mine!" got me thinking recently about the possessive language we use to describe love.

I first belonged to Teresa.

I was sixteen the first summer I observed her clinic in...

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Curation Culture: USAID and the Mashup

(1) Comments | Posted October 22, 2012 | 6:30 PM

"To begin with, the context in which we operate has shifted." -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the introduction to USAID's 2012 "Frontiers in Development" publication

In order to illuminate the contemporary conversation about foreign aid and policy we're going to have to talk for...

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Blogs Never Promised You a Rose Garden

(0) Comments | Posted July 25, 2012 | 5:33 PM

Ahem. A word about the blog I started in college called Cliterati.

(Yep. "Clit" meets "literati." See what my twenty-year-old self did there? If I hadn't been a librarian at the Women's Center in college, I'd say I should've been.)

As I blog I wonder every so often if...

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The Social Century

(0) Comments | Posted July 3, 2012 | 11:05 AM

The incredible response to Anne-Marie Slaughter's landmark cover story "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" (easily a hundred articles and blog posts, hundreds of thousands of shares on facebook, broken readership records at The Atlantic) serves as a cultural litmus test for issues ripe for debate. Slaughter...

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We Can't Have It All, But We Can Give Her Credit

(4) Comments | Posted June 28, 2012 | 11:56 AM

Two main misconceptions have cropped up in the buzz around Anne-Marie Slaughter's current cover story in The Atlantic, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." One is that Slaughter imagines herself to be speaking for women other than those in her demographic, when she explicitly states otherwise. The...

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Dr. O & The Women

(5) Comments | Posted June 11, 2012 | 12:55 PM

I caught a piece of BBC TV news about Michelle Obama one hot afternoon in Nairobi last summer. I was standing on the balcony beside some orange-blossomed flame tulip trees, thinking about the group of young Congolese refugee girls I was working with, when my first lady's voice brought me...

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On the Public Shaming of Asma al-Assad

(2) Comments | Posted April 30, 2012 | 7:09 PM

I teach an extract of John Berger's 1972 "Ways of Seeing" to undergraduate composition students. Berger's claim that "men act and women appear," a seemingly antiquated notion, is always fodder for lively debate, along with his suggestion that women fashion their social presence such that others treat them...

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Confessions of a Development Dilettante

(1) Comments | Posted April 10, 2012 | 12:38 PM

I took one introductory international relations class my freshman year of college. It was painfully dry; I spent lectures slouching in back, admiring my combat boots and writing bad poetry. After that one foray into the formal study of international relations, fully half of the rest of my literary arts...

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The Dream Team Initiative

(2) Comments | Posted March 27, 2012 | 12:56 PM

When I visit my childhood home in California, I often postulate to my schoolteacher mother while standing in the bathroom doorway as she brushes her teeth. (I talk a lot; it's one of the only times I can corner her into listening.)

About five years back, my big idea...

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America Does Not Happen By Accident

(0) Comments | Posted January 17, 2012 | 3:44 AM

"Neither peace nor war happen by accident."

Madeleine Albright said it at her lecture here in Bloomington, Indiana a few months ago. It was a succinct and eloquent nod to the power of intentionality, and she uttered it at the outset of election-campaign season in American politics, a...

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Kenya Dispatch: The End of Structure

(0) Comments | Posted December 21, 2011 | 6:21 PM

The first issue of the comic ElfQuest, written in 1978, depicts a kidnapped elf called Redlance. Elves can "send" thoughts telepathically to other elves within "sending range." The captured Redlance is saved because his loved ones "send" to one another, collaborating to ambush and free him -- without...

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Mikhail Iossel's Writerly Brainchild

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2011 | 1:09 PM

"Maybe it's an émigré thing," Russian-born Mikhail Iossel laughs on the phone from his office at Concordia University in Montreal, where he is a professor. "Once uprooted, you just keep rolling."

It was in Boston's Copley Hotel, shortly after his arrival in the U.S., that Iossel realized how deep his...

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What's My Genre, Anyway?

(1) Comments | Posted December 5, 2011 | 11:12 AM

Last September I was in Turkey for the second-ever Writers and Literary Translators International Congress. Keynote Speaker Maureen Freely, who translates Orhan Pamuk's books, said during her address that translating is much the same as writing novels, which she also writes, and articles, which she writes as well. "You have...

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