What the UCWbL Taught Me

After two years at the Writing Center and four years at DePaul, I am graduating with my degree. It’s a bittersweet ending to my first-actual-for-realsies job.  In my last blog post (queue the tears), I want to talk  about why working here has been such a positive experience.

One of the most powerful aspects about working at the UCWbL is improving communication skills. On any given day, a tutor may work with multiple writers working on different projects. The writers we work with are not cookie-cutter; they are people with varying experiences and personalities. In other words, tutoring requires an ability to work and communicate with a lot of different people! After spending hours listening and talking to others about their writing, I became more confident talking to people I had never met before.

balloons-874841_960_720

Communication can be fun (if you know what you are doing). Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

A good example of this is working with international students. When I started at the Writing Center,  I felt nervous about working with students from outside the United States. Since many international students are English language learners, I worried that I would have a lot of trouble being helpful and knowing what to say.  There is no doubt that there were a few appointments that could have gone better with these students  (as with others); however, over time and with some trial and error, I honed my approach to working with nonnative speakers.

Once I got past the hiccups, it was so helpful to work with these students! Meeting writers from China and Saudi Arabia to Poland  and Kyrgyzstan allowed for many cultural exchanges.  I learned from international students their understanding and relationship to the United States and its people, helping me to become a more aware and empathetic person. For instance, one student shared her experience in gaining a Visa through the Green Card Lottery to live in America. After we talked at the Writing Center, I found a new appreciation for what migrants go through to enter the country in a year plus application process. The students, in turn, learned about Chicago, American Holidays, and a thing or two about pronunciation and constructing sentences.

Goode-homolosine-projection

The Goode homolosine projection of the Globe. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

As a peer tutor, I realized how wonderful the DePaul community is; it’s filled with passionate people who want to learn new languages, develop a cover letter to their dream job, create innovative organizations and websites, or write a critical and thought-provoking paper. My work wasn’t just about grammar and proper semicolon use. To help and collaborate with others in our community, mutually learning and benefiting from each other, reinforced how valuable we all are.

Above all, working at the Writing Center taught me that work does not need to be a soulless, boring experience. Both administrators and tutors encourage each other to be creative, to be themselves, and to grow. Tutors can work in different capacities for the Writing Center, whether through researching,  being a receptionist,  creating short films and radio broadcasts, or blogging. That fluidity of roles makes work more interesting and dynamic.

16544885426_05e6b9e931_b

Luckily, I didn’t push this buzzer too often. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

At this point you may be thinking, “Okay guy, we get it. You liked working at the Writing Center. Blah blah blah. What is this? Some kind of advertisement?”  In a way, it is.  Some of us may not return to tutoring or teaching after we stop working at the UCWbL. Even so, we have made some great friendships, and I think many of the graduating tutors will utilize the skills we learned in other professions.  My thanks to the readers, coworkers and everyone else that made my time here!