English Students Get Involved, Build Student Organization for the Creative Community

Meet the student organization, Create Creatives, which was founded by an English student, Elsa Nilaj, in 2018.  The aim of the organization is to “encourage students to be more creative.”  Create Creatives wants to inspire students to not ask the dooming “what if?” when it comes to their dreams.  Regardless of a student’s major they are encouraged to join.  Nilaj said, “If you’re a biology major, but you really want to do photography, our whole thing is you just do it.  You don’t worry about money, the equipment or anything like that.  We just hook you up with the people that can help you do that.  And you just create whatever you need to create.”  

Nilaj had the unique idea to start this organization because she was stuck in a rut. Coming from an immigrant family who had a traditional mindset, she felt obligated to primarily focus on school, since they were paying for her education.  Nilaj couldn’t see a way to pursue her dreams.  She wanted to become a filmmaker, but didn’t have the knowledge or resources to and didn’t believe her current position would allow her to do so.  Nilaj had noticed many others have similar situations and she wanted to give others a chance to develop an original project as well as the necessary skills and techniques of their craft.

At first Nilaj was reluctant to go through with the idea.  She was unsure how her family would react or if she could even accomplish such a task, but she had some encouragement.  Not only from friends, but from English Department staff as well.  English Professors Adrienne Jankens and Jamaal May have played an important role in Nilaj finding the courage to officially establish the club.  Jankens believed in the vision Nilaj had for the club and pushed her to pursue the organization, despite her reservations.  Once Nilaj began the org, Professor May encouraged her to continue the program and challenge her to think about the ideas she has for fundraisers or events.

In addition to English professors, Nilaj believes her English major itself played an important role in her creating this organization.  As an English major she has a lot of reading and writing to manage.  Knowing how to handle multiple tasks assisted her in organizing the different components of the club.  She also believes that the writing skills she has developed as an English major help her with writing her own projects, and thus played a role in the idea for this org.  Furthermore, she understands the weight that words have and knows how to use them to appeal to an audience, which assists her in promoting Create Creatives to others.

Create Creatives looks for dedicated members.  English student, Shaam Smadi, is an excellent example of a dedicated member.  Smadi has always wanted to write novels, comic series, even make films, but being in the midst of school and having familial obligations, working on these types of projects has been difficult.  Smadi is often isolated, which they noted is one of the worst things to do when trying to develop creative projects.  Create Creatives is a space that combats that isolation, which is why Smadi loves Create Creatives so much.  It provides a “safe place to follow these dreams and take tangible actions towards them”.  

Create Creatives is open to members who want to work in any art form they desire.  Members may be working on novels, short stories, sketches, paintings, poetry, film, the list goes on.  The organization also likes to create collaborative projects.  For example, Nilaj, Smadi, and several other members are currently working on a comic book.  The comic focuses on finding hope, specifically through storytelling and how it can help a community heal despite all the madness in a fictional world with a cruel, gladiator style punishment.  The comic began the first stages of development last December.  Throughout the process more members have joined the project.  They have found an editor who will review their script and storyline this November.  The artwork and character design are still in progress and the group is looking for new artists to assist them as well!

Members of the Create Creatives team are also working on a film project.  Nilaj has written a script for a web series which focuses on a girl who feels she has lost her purpose in life and feels the societal and familial pressure to fit the norm.  To cope, she puts a box over her head.  The box is both physical and metaphorical, but only those who interact with her see the box and try to “fix” her.  Those who don’t interact with her don’t see the box, they see her as normal, because they are essentially wearing boxes as well.  Nilaj has been able to work with a film and media group to obtain the proper equipment as well as people to assist with editing the film.  In addition to these exciting projects, potential future Create Creatives’ projects include a podcast and a children’s book.

The club hosts general body meetings, which are informative, but fun and often involve a creative component—such as sharing poetry.  Another staple of the organization is its Creative Days.  These are days in which the organization reserves a physical location to form a safe space for members to work on whatever project they want.  In the future they hope to work to create a space that feels more aesthetic and inviting to creative activity on the WSU campus.

When asked what types of events the organization hosts, Smadi swiftly answered “NOT bake sales.”  Create Creatives likes to utilize unique ideas when it comes to fundraisers.  In the past they have fundraised with tarot card readings which they hope to do again in the near future.  The idea is to think outside of the box, which speaks perfectly to the Create Creatives brand of, well, being creative!

Despite the relative newness of the organization, Nilaj is proud of the group thus far.  In the future she hopes to take the organization beyond Wayne State’s campus and turn it into a non-profit.  In the meantime, she wants to continue to grow the base on campus.  Smadi added that the club is amazing, but wants to share it with more people and hopes it will grow because spaces like these—positive, creative spaces—can be rare.  Smadi said about Create Creatives “I want, but need this safe space where people have important dreams and goals, but otherwise can’t achieve them because of this, that, and the other.  I want it to give people hope and a space to take action.”

Nilaj added “everyone is welcome with open arms.”  The organization exists to facilitate creative projects, which are important, but require a lot of work.  She notes it can be intimidating, but it is necessary to take that first step.  Nilaj said of the club, “We’re the voice in your ear saying do it!  Even when you want to back down from your dream.  It always begins with you; it begins with a yes.”

If you have a project you want to work on or are interested in joining the org, but unsure if you’re ready to commit, check out their Instagram page @CreateCreatives or email them at createcreatives1@gmail.com.

By Nicole Saez