Up Everest and into a Book

The Middle and High School welcomed two special guests on the week of November 15. Matt Dickinson, filmmaker, writer and adventurer, spoke with students on key points in his career and life, including his summit of Mount Everest while author Ruth Eastham conducted several writing workshops in the middle school. 

From November 14-16, Matt Dickinson and Ruth Eastham visited students not only on a class-by-class basis, but also offered their experiences at several assemblies.


Filmmaker, writer and Everest summiteer Matt Dickinson thrilled and entertained our middle and high schoolers with personal stories of survival and challenge while climbing Everest. Matt then led several middle and high school classes focused on subjects such as writing, filmography and biology. In two such classes, Matt guided sixth-graders in writing workshops. Students learned how to plan and outline a piece of writing and how to write effective introductions and conclusions. Matt emphasized the importance of research throughout the writing process.


Award-winning author Ruth Eastham conducted writing workshops for seventh and eighth-grade students during their language arts classes. The interactive writing workshops focused on how to create conflict in narrative writing for grade seven students and how to write micro-fiction for grade eight students.


Ruth began her workshop by helping students identify a “Memory Object,” an item of personal value. She then gave the students various scenarios to weave their stories round: an intruder is trying to steal your object, your object is under some kind of threat, your object begins to act strangely. Following the guidance, Ruth and the students discussed the importance of opening lines that hook the reader, rising tension and strong resolutions.

Matt and Ruth wrote, reflecting on their visit to ASIJ:

“We flew in from London via Hong Kong, and this was the first time in Japan for both of us! Sleepless, with a combination of excitement and jet lag, we launched straight into our sessions at ASIJ, working across the age groups from grade 6 upwards.

“Highlights for us were some stunning creative writing from the pupils, looking at types of conflict in storytelling and how to create compelling micro short stories. There were excellent film studies discussions, as well as geography and science workshops which took us to Antarctica and the Himalayas. Students came up with ideas for innovative eco-tourism research projects in these regions.

“Grade 6 was impressive in the way they tackled an assignment to write a non-fiction feature about whether Mount Everest should be closed. We felt there were many future journalists in the room!


“Our thanks go to Scott Adams, the Middle School Principal, together with Linda (head librarian) and Tanja (middle school librarian) and their library teams who made us feel so welcome. Having an open tab for chocolate chip cookies and cappuccinos was an added bonus! The ASIJ students were motivated and enthusiastic throughout. What a super school! We hope to see you all again soon.”

If you would like to learn more about Matt Dickinson and Ruth Eastham, check out their websites: www.mattdickinson.com and www.rutheastham.com. You can also check out a few of the stories written during Ruth’s workshop: Lauren Hartz, Saci-Elodie Marty, Jess BuoyJess Buoy and Mahe FarionMahe Farion