Holly's stories are engaging and powerful, which is why I always love to talk to her and read her writing. Her stories about her travels are fascinating, especially learning from Indigenous Australian culture in central Australia. Holly's openness in her writing and her work with the International Society to promote cultural diversity and creativity has had such a positive impact on our International 16 group. It's changed our lives.
- Tanmay Shrikant Barhale, International 16 member, MSc Telecommunications, University of Salford.
Holly distinguishes herself immediately as a writer filled with passion, enthusiasm, and excitement about creative writing, and a great desire to encourage others to fulfill their potential and develop their creativity.
- Dr Jayne Steele, Senior Lecturer, Department of English and Creative Writing, Lancaster University, England.
I am writing to say thank you for letting us see your epic country. And another thank you for taking us on a rocket trip around the world. It was very interesting when you told us about Australia and that it does not snow where you live. Our time with you flew, we really enjoyed you coming to our school and hope you come again. We would really appreciate it if you did. I liked it when you showed us the two flags of your country, and I liked the photos that you showed me and the team of the desert. I loved having our faces painted. I appreciate you coming all the way from Australia to teach us how you live, and how you greet each other by shaking hands. I will always remember you as a close friend to me and my group. Please send a letter back to me. Otherwise we can't be friends.
- Shannon, aged eight, Buxton Primary School.
Holly's stories were very important during my stay in England because they allowed me to successfully discover and appreciate the richness of vocabulary that I had not found in the English language until then. French is my native language, therefore it is for me always magical and fulfilling to listen or to read her. I especially appreciate the way she handles words and turns every instant into an enchanting moment.
- Caroline Kamal, International 16 member, law student, Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas, France.
I discovered Holly’s writing online one afternoon a few months ago while I was looking for inspiration. [It] chimed with me, the combination of the beautiful imagery on her blog and the way in which she described creativity as part of our living being: if we do not nurture that part of us we will become sick. [...] It’s wasn’t difficult to see Holly is a born storyteller. Despite no one knowing what to expect from her talk, a room of people of different backgrounds, ages and positions all sat fascinated while she talked about the real fear and insecurity ‘creative’ people face and how she overcomes that. We were reminded there are no rules about how and why we create, but just that we should – and that for us to flourish individually and as a community we have to allow that to happen. It doesn’t matter if that is writing, dancing, singing (in my case, badly), cooking, or creating in a different way. Because if we don’t then we become sick, which makes our society sick. Thank you Holly.
- Hannah Cox, founder, Better Not Stop.
Holly is an engaging and impassioned speaker. When she delivered her presentation at an international conference this year she captivated her conference audience, of which I was a member, by sharing her fascinating experiences living and working in Australia’s Central Desert, and recalling what an inherent role storytelling and creative writing played in her life and in the lives of others there. In her presentation Holly drew us into the power of stories for change, within a broad, diverse, and relative context. Holly expresses herself to equal effect on the page; her writing is lucid, evocative, and moving, evidenced in her outstanding conference paper that accompanied her presentation.
- Dr Tamar Ascher Shai, Lecturer, Department of Early Childhood Education, The David Yellin College of Education, Jerusalem, Israel.
I met Holly during my stay in England, being part of International 16. I am glad I had the chance to meet such an amazing human being, and talented writer. Everytime Holly enters a room she brings what I call "Holly's magic", and everyone who knows her knows exactly what I'm talking about: her ability to make every situation natural and pleasant; the magic she creates with her words everytime she speaks; her ability to put people at their ease. Every page she writes, every story she tells, brings with its all her enthusiasm, creativity and determination to overcome boundaries. Through her stories and sharing her life experiences, Holly encouraged me to tell my story, and share in the stories of others during our International 16 meetings and trips. Holly was born to spread her magic through writing.
- Daiana Marcoccia, International 16 member, Modern languages and Literature, University of Rome.
I was immediately struck by Holly's enthusiasm, encouragement, compassion, and approachability in the way she interacted with the students in the International 16 project. She was clearly committed to nurturing their individual attributes and fostering their diverse stories by creating a safe space for them to be told, and heard. The students responded positively to her vibrant and creative nature, and it was a great pleasure to watch them evolve.
I have also had the pleasure of attending Holly's presentation at MMU's 2013 Research Institute for Health and Social Change annual conference. Through the telling of her own personal set of experiences, Holly illuminated the broad and relative power and importance of stories as ways to bridge universal issues of ignorance, prejudice, misunderstanding, and diversity. Her audience was fascinated, and responded with great enthusiasm to Holly’s story and message. Afterwards many colleagues, interested to learn more, approached her to ask questions and share experiences. This is testament to Holly’s dynamic and engaging storytelling and presenting style, which is mirrored in her writing that I also have had the pleasure of reading. Her paper, You Take Away Our Stories, We Get Sick, is exceptional.
- Dr Andrew Stevenson, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care, Manchester Metropolitan University, England.
I’ve sat in on one of Holly's presentations, been a part of discussion groups that she has led (in both a formal and informal way), read some of her writing and talked with her about her PhD and the experiences that led her to begin it. In all of this, what has struck me most forcibly has been this combination of attributes: Holly thinks deeply and clearly, unafraid to move into complexity and into the unknown (this is characteristic of her work experience as well as her academic work). She cares deeply about social issues, drawing on her own family background and experiences. She has thought deeply about what it means to belong to a nation like Australia (and how this means so many different things to different groups and cultures), an evolving understanding that has been informed not just by her background but by the work she’s done in the field before beginning her PhD and since. In all of this her inquiry is characterized by what I’d describe as a courageous openness, allowing new insights to emerge from uncomfortable and unfamiliar experiences.
In her writing, Holly demonstrates all of the above, and something else besides. She is someone who understands that writing does not simply allow her to say what it is that she wants to say (something that she does extremely well; she’s always been ‘a writer’). Writing also uncovers what has been hidden from her view.
Holly is one of those writers who make academic work seem like the most important kind of work that an intelligent and socially aware kind of person might do. They’re studying not in order to get a doctorate so much as to understand the world that bit better and to be able to make a more effective contribution as a result of their studies.
- Dr Steve Shann, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Canberra, Australia.