Collaborating about Tough Topics

By November 15, 2016Writing about Writing

As the quarter nears its end, it’s a great time to reflect upon our experiences at the UCWbL. And for me, a new team member of the Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research (CMWR), there is certainly a lot for me to reflect on this Fall.

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I was eager to get involved with the CMWR—from its commitment to fostering cultural exchange and connecting with multilingual DePaul communities, what isn’t to love? I’ve long found Conversation Partner appointments to be the most rewarding at the UCWbL, so I was more than ready to dive into a new multilingual adventure with my fellow writers and teammates.

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For my first undertaking with the CMWR, I helped facilitate the weekly event Conversation and Culture. These gatherings allow writers to convene for lively discussions of cultural and language exchange, guided by weekly themes and multimedia sources on topics from food to cultural celebrations. From week to week, the enthusiasm and curiosity that marked Conversation and Culture truly inspired me; however, this quarter I also noticed a trend of a somewhat somber and serious sentiment marking our gatherings that took me by surprise.

We tackled some preimg_1095tty heavy issues this quarter, ranging from police violence and racism to the virulent and contentious election cycle of late. These discussions about institutional problems were sometimes quite unsettling. Diving deep into the topics of discrimination, federal misconduct, and cavernous political divides is no easy task.

For both facilitators and attendees, it was often difficult to navigate conversations about the troubled social and political climate of the U.S. The tragic origins and outcomes of these issues can cause confusion, distress, and intense disagreement. However, working through these tough questions together opens up a space for us to help one another understand and question these issues, while also moving toward collaborative approaches and solutions driven by diverse perspectives.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-11-08-33-amAt the UCWbL, one of the core values underlying all of our work emphasizes that “collaboration among peers is an especially effective mode of learning.” With the CMWR, I’ve come to understand this value applies to much more than just our writing—collaboration also drives critical and educational conversations in which diverse viewpoints can inform and build upon one another. What’s more, collaboration in Conversation and Culture this quarter has, in my eyes, created a space where all members of the DePaul community can support one another in expressing their ideas, even in the face of troubling problems.

As I continue to work with the incredibly supportive team at CMWR and the awesome writers that attend our events, I look forward to both the interesting and challenging discussions that await us.