Education is one of my passions.

I enjoy identifying urgent issues and weaving them into curriculum to be taught in workshops or college-level courses.

Sehba Sarwar with students at Baker-Ripley Community Center (Houston); photo: Michelle Garcia

I have offered writing workshops to youth and adults for more than twenty-five years, and have given talks and readings at campuses around the United States and Pakistan in spaces including Duke University (Durham, NC), El Paso Community College (El Paso, TX), Portland State University (Portland, OR), Fatima Jinnah Women’s College (Islamabad, Pakistan), Government College (Lahore, Pakistan), and elsewhere.

As visiting writer and adjunct faculty member at Writers in the Schools, Inprint Inc, the University of Houston, and other organizations, I have led long-term writing and performance art workshops for all ages ranging from K – 12 to college and to community members. Over the past two decades, I’ve led workshops targeting specific communities including Pakistani and Vietnamese youth, young women, and writers who tag themselves as “displaced.”

In 2014, I co-wrote the curriculum for Art and Activism, a class that I co-taught at the University of Houston in which students were introduced to visual art, music and text created by artists who are based around the globe and who are exploring social justice issues through their work.

In 2015, as part of my What Is Home? project, I led a high school workshop for immigrant and refugee youth while simultaneously offering a storytelling workshop for immigrant and undocumented women; both workshops culminated in performances where students performed their writings as well as stories generated by women participants.

University Talks / Presentations

Talk: Borderlines: Telling South Asian and US-Mexico Border Histories through Art and Performance at University of California-San Diego and Committee for the Arts of the Subcontinent, San Diego, California; March 2018

Reading: Sehba Sarwar – A Reading Presented by Gallery Magazine, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Festiba 2018, Edinburg, Texas; February 2018.

A celebration of Voices Breaking Boundaries’ Special Collections Archives Celebration at the University of Houston, Rockwell Pavilion, Houston, TX; Nov 2016

Panelist at “Globalization, Borders, and the Rights and Status of Children” panel discussion at Global Studies Conference 2016 Crossing Borders: People, Capital, Culture conference, University of Texas-Austin, Austin, TX; Jun 2016

Panelist at Mitchell Center for the Arts CounterCurrent Festival discussion, Home Improvement Public-Private-Participatory-Park: Recreational Resistance, University of Houston, Houston, TX; Apr 2016

Reading and Borderlines book launch, South Asia Institute, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX; Mar 2016

Sehba Sarwar University Panel Discussion UT Austin
Sehba Sarwar with co-panelists Harbeer Sandhu and Shreerekha Subramanian at UT-Austin; photo by Liliana Valenzuela

The University of Texas at Austin’s South Asia Institute invited me to set up a panel to introduce the release of Voices Breaking Boundaries’ Borderlines Volume Two. The panel discussion included readings and a panel discussion with contributors Harbeer Sandhu, Shreerekha Subramanian and myself.

Gave talk What Is Home? Dialogue on Crossing Borders, Practicing Love at University of Houston-Clear Lake, TX; Mar 2015

I was invited to offer a reading and talk to students and faculty at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Reading and conversation with Dr. Subramanian Shankar, artist Ayanna McCloud at the University of Houston-Downtown’s Center for Critical Race Studies (CCRS), Houston, TX; Feb 2016

Reading and conversation with Dr. Subramanian Shankar, artist Ayanna McCloud at the University of Houston-Downtown’s Center for Critical Race Studies (CCRS), Houston, TX; Feb 2016

Participation in a panel “Local Representations, Global Conversations: Surviving Violence and Resisting Ideologies of Violence” at a connecting South Asia to Houston, Conversations and Connections Around Gender-Based Violence, University of Houston, TX; Feb 2014

As part of a day-long conference about issues in South Asia, I presented work that I created for Voices Breaking Boundaries’ Women Under Siege production.

Gave talk at Portland State University Art and Social Practice MFA Program’s Wednesday Afternoon Conversation Series, Portland, OR. Listen here; Feb 2013

Reading for the Eastern Mennonite University’s Language & Literature Department’s Writers’ Read Series, Harrisonburg, VA; Oct 2011

I offered a reading from my novel Black Wings, and also shared some poetry.

Video screenings and participation in panel discussion Women Speak on Global Citizenry at Bronx Community College, New York, NY; Mar 2011

Reading at Callaloo conference Callaloo Salutes Texas Writers, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX; Mar 2009

Presented on “Africans In Asia” at The George Washington University, Africana Studies Program, Washington DC; Apr 2008

I presented the findings of research that I was doing about the African diaspora living in Karachi’s Mangopir area. Over the years, my research expanded into a Voices Breaking Boundaries’ project Homes and Histories, which I presented to a larger community in 2012 as a multidisciplinary arts production

International Women’s Day Creative Writing Workshop and Reading at El Paso Community College, Valle Verde Campus, El Paso, TX; Mar 2010

On my second visit to El Paso Community College, I shared a video collage about gun violence and also read from my short story “Soot” that appeared in And the World Changed, an anthology that contains writings by 25 Pakistani women writers.

“Publishing Your Work” at University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, TX; Mar 2008

Served on panel “Beyond Extremes: Contesting Cultural Stereotypes” in a panel entitled “Contested Spaces, Competing Narratives in Pakistan: A Gendered View” at South Asia Conference, The University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; Oct 2007

Panelist “Contested Spaces, Competing Narratives: Towards Human Rights and Democracy in Pakistan“, Tufts & Harvard Universities, Boston, MA; April 2007

Reading for the Duke University’s Women’s Center, Durham, NC; Oct 2008

A young woman, who had attended Making Noise (a high school girls workshop that I’d offered in Houston), was enrolled at Duke University, and she invited me to visit her campus to offer an empowerment workshop for her follow women students.

Gave reading and talk at Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Rawalpindi and Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan; Jan 2009

“Pakistan Today: Life after Benazir Bhutto: Houston Pakistani women speak out,” hosted by Friends of UH Women’s Studies’ Living Archives Series, Houston, TX; Mar 2008

Featured artist at Howls in the Desert: A Reading by Mujeres Escritoras in Honor of Women’s History Month at El Paso Community College’s Spring 2007 Arts Festival, El Paso, TX; Mar 2007

I participated in a panel discussion with writers Sorayya Khan, Waqas Khwaja, Mahmud Rahman and Alka Roy, where we talked about how issues of war connect to our writing; our South Asia Institute panel was an extension of our panel’s talk at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) that was also being held in Austin at the time.

Reading at University of Texas, Austin, TX; Nov 2007

I offered a talk and reading for students who were studying Pakistani writers that generate work in English.

Gave talk What Is Home? Dialogue on Crossing Borders, Practicing Love at University of Houston-Clear Lake, TX; Mar 2015

I was invited to offer a reading and talk to students and faculty at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Reading and conversation with Dr. Subramanian Shankar, artist Ayanna McCloud at the University of Houston-Downtown’s Center for Critical Race Studies (CCRS), Houston, TX; Feb 2016

Reading and conversation with Dr. Subramanian Shankar, artist Ayanna McCloud at the University of Houston-Downtown’s Center for Critical Race Studies (CCRS), Houston, TX; Feb 2016

Participation in a panel “Local Representations, Global Conversations: Surviving Violence and Resisting Ideologies of Violence” at a connecting South Asia to Houston, Conversations and Connections Around Gender-Based Violence, University of Houston, TX; Feb 2014

As part of a day-long conference about issues in South Asia, I presented work that I created for Voices Breaking Boundaries’ Women Under Siege production.

Gave talk at Portland State University Art and Social Practice MFA Program’s Wednesday Afternoon Conversation Series, Portland, OR. Listen here; Feb 2013

Reading for the Eastern Mennonite University’s Language & Literature Department’s Writers’ Read Series, Harrisonburg, VA; Oct 2011

I offered a reading from my novel Black Wings, and also shared some poetry.

Video screenings and participation in panel discussion Women Speak on Global Citizenry at Bronx Community College, New York, NY; Mar 2011

Reading at Callaloo conference Callaloo Salutes Texas Writers, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX; Mar 2009

Presented on “Africans In Asia” at The George Washington University, Africana Studies Program, Washington DC; Apr 2008

I presented the findings of research that I was doing about the African diaspora living in Karachi’s Mangopir area. Over the years, my research expanded into a Voices Breaking Boundaries’ project Homes and Histories, which I presented to a larger community in 2012 as a multidisciplinary arts production

International Women’s Day Creative Writing Workshop and Reading at El Paso Community College, Valle Verde Campus, El Paso, TX; Mar 2010

On my second visit to El Paso Community College, I shared a video collage about gun violence and also read from my short story “Soot” that appeared in And the World Changed, an anthology that contains writings by 25 Pakistani women writers.

“Publishing Your Work” at University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, TX; Mar 2008

Served on panel “Beyond Extremes: Contesting Cultural Stereotypes” in a panel entitled “Contested Spaces, Competing Narratives in Pakistan: A Gendered View” at South Asia Conference, The University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; Oct 2007

Panelist “Contested Spaces, Competing Narratives: Towards Human Rights and Democracy in Pakistan“, Tufts & Harvard Universities, Boston, MA; April 2007

Reading for the Duke University’s Women’s Center, Durham, NC; Oct 2008

A young woman, who had attended Making Noise (a high school girls workshop that I’d offered in Houston), was enrolled at Duke University, and she invited me to visit her campus to offer an empowerment workshop for her follow women students.

Gave reading and talk at Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Rawalpindi and Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan; Jan 2009

“Pakistan Today: Life after Benazir Bhutto: Houston Pakistani women speak out,” hosted by Friends of UH Women’s Studies’ Living Archives Series, Houston, TX; Mar 2008

Featured artist at Howls in the Desert: A Reading by Mujeres Escritoras in Honor of Women’s History Month at El Paso Community College’s Spring 2007 Arts Festival, El Paso, TX; Mar 2007

I participated in a panel discussion with writers Sorayya Khan, Waqas Khwaja, Mahmud Rahman and Alka Roy, where we talked about how issues of war connect to our writing; our South Asia Institute panel was an extension of our panel’s talk at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) that was also being held in Austin at the time.

Reading at University of Texas, Austin, TX; Nov 2007

I offered a talk and reading for students who were studying Pakistani writers that generate work in English.

If you’d like me to offer a workshop in your community or offer a talk on your campus, please contact me.

University Courses / Classes

Designed curriculum and co-taught Art as Activism undergraduate course for Mitchell Center for the Arts, University of Houston, Houston, TX; Fall 2014

Sehba Sarwar Center for Education
Zinda Bhaag (Run for Your Life) co-director Meenu Gaur and producer Mazhar Zaidi with Sehba Sarwar; photo by Logan Sebastian Beck

I collaborated with history professor Dina Al-Sowayel, PhD to design and teach a class through which students researched and interviewed artists based in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and elsewhere. Classroom activity also included visits by writers Hosam Aboul-Ela and Fady Joudah, and Pakistani film directors Meenu Gaur and Mazhar Zaidi.

Visiting artist, Mitchell Center for the Arts, University of Houston, Houston, TX; Fall 2013.

School Writing Project for Teacher Writing Workshops, Center for Education, Rice University, Houston, TX. Led many workshops series that served over 80 teachers around Houston, Houston, TX; Fall 1997–Spring 2001

Sehba’ s poetry is a product of her history and her unapologetic, realistic way of approaching life. When I read her poetry, I realize she is speaking straight from the heart, without reservations.

parent, Furr High School

Community Workshops

Initiated and led 6-session women’s workshop, What Is Home? at Baker-Ripley Community Center for Houston Public Library, Houston, TX; Oct 2015

Led fiction-writing workshop for Inprint Inc., Houston, TX; Spring 2011

Instructor, Daytime Essay Writing Class, Inprint Inc., Houston, TX; Fall 2008

Initiated and led 6-week storytelling workshop for South Asian mothers/women at Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center, Houston, TX; Jan 2015 

In 2014-15, I received a Mid-America Arts Alliance Artistic Innovations award for my What Is Home? project. Through the funding, I initiated storytelling workshops for South Asian women in Gulfton, an immigrant neighborhood in Houston. More than 10 women participated; some were undocumented while others were not. The women shared their struggles which I transcribed, and the stories were published in VBB’s Borderlines’ Volume Two.

Voices Breaking Boundaries’ lead-facilitator for five seasons of Voices of the Displaced at Project Row Houses, Houston, TX; Spring 2003 – Summer 2004

I began a writing workshop for community members who felt “displaced” and wished to explore their writing. The workshop attracted writers from countries including Argentina, Mexico, India and Pakistan, as well as writers who were from different parts of the US. The workshops ran for four sessions after which a group of us began meeting on a regular basis, workshopping our writings and performing together.

Led a teacher training-writing workshop “Writing from Memory” for Society for Professional English Language Teachers (SPELT), Karachi, Pakistan; Aug 2007

Co-Facilitator for workshop on mothers and writing, Inprint Inc., Houston, TX; Summer 2002

I’ve learned how to get along with other people and how to give others the chance to know me. I also learned that no matter who I am and where I come from, I can do and set my mind to accomplish anything I want.

Creative writing student, Furr High School

High School

Taught a storytelling workshop for Nepali-Bhutanese and Indian youth at Westbury High School, Houston, TX; Jan 2015

Sehba Sarwar with students at Baker-Ripley Community Center (Houston); photo: Michelle Garcia

As part of my 2014-15 Artistic Innovations award by Mid-America Arts Alliance, I held a storytelling workshop for Nepali/Bhutanese and Indian youth at Westbury High School. After the workshop ended, one student hosted a meal in his apartment where his mother prepared a Nepali meal. Students also participated in several public events that I organized in Southwest Houston, and their narratives were published in Voices Breaking Boundaries’ Borderlines Volume Two publication.

Taught Express Yourself: A Writing | Blogging | Video workshop for Pakistani college and high school women, Houston, TX. This project was run through Voices Breaking Boundaries and funded by St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities; Aug 2009

Taught a VBB high school writing workshop, Showcase of Poetry/Prose, Art and Music (SPAM!), for teenagers at Lee High School, Houston, TX; Fall 2005 and Spring 2007

Co-taught a high school writing workshop, Retelling Histories, a collaborative project between Voices Breaking Boundaries, Youth Advocates and Project Row Houses at Lee High School, Houston, TX; Summer 2005

Taught VBB Multidisciplinary Summer After-School Program at Sharpstown High School, Houston, TX; Summer 2002

I started this project through Voices Breaking Boundaries shortly after I quit my full-time teaching position at Jones High School. Sharpstown HS offered funding, and I was able to bring my Jones HS students to their campus. The project culminated with a publication containing writings by, students from different parts of the city and the world.

Taught a writing workshop for Vietnamese Youth at the Vietnamese Cultural Center, through Inprint Inc. Houston, TX; Spring 2004

Led youth performance workshop for VBB’s La Voz Femenina, Project Row Houses, Houston, TX; Spring 2003 and 2004

Taught VBB Multidisciplinary Elective at Furr High School, Houston, TX; Fall 2002 – Spring 2003

Initiated and led Making Noise, a writing workshop designed to empower high school girls, Inprint Inc., Houston, TX; Spring 2000 – Summer 2002

Taught journalism and creative writing at Jones High School, Houston, TX; Fall 1999 – Summer 2002

Served as writer-in-residence for Writers-in-the-Schools (WITS), and taught workshops at a variety of spaces including: The Menil Collection, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, The Rice School/La Escuela Rice, and many more sites around Houston, TX; Fall 1994 – Summer 1997

I wasn't able to comprehend how profoundly Sehba had affected me until I found myself impatient to write, often anxious just to get my hands on a pen...It seemed as though at every turn, Sehba was there to urge me on. Her deliverance of voice and reason kindled a flame inside me.

— student, The Rice School/La Escuela Rice

CONTACT

I am an author and speaker, an artist, and a community and cultural activist.

If I can use my talents and passions to inspire you or your network to push boundaries and become involved in our communities, please connect with me. I am open to schedule readings, workshops, courses or multimedia installations.Universities and non-profit organizations based in Texas can apply for Texas Commission on the Arts grants to fund Sarwar’s workshops, readings and/or installations since she serves on the Texas Touring Roster.

CONTACT SEHBA SARWAR

Sehba Sarwar Art Car
Front hood of art car, Digital Meets Pakistani Truck Art, featuring stickers of buraq images from Karachi; photo by Burnell McCray