Currently, the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) is operating entirely online. Together, we are finding energy in work we feel matters now, more than ever.
In the writing center, we have a slogan we like to use. It goes, "We support student writers as much as we do our tutors — our writing assistants." Such a phrase fuels a conversational method, one that, at its best, creates moments in which writers and tutors walk away learning something new, from one another. Such a phrase rings true in the ways our writing assistants draw on sessions to springboard research and thinking they bring to all staff meetings and to academic conferences. But these days, perhaps most importantly, such a phrase materializes in moments of connection we so desperately need, and that we can hear in the words of the following writing assistants:
I heard my professor’s voice for the first time in three weeks. I cried. Up until then, I had convinced myself I had been coping. I was fine, but I wasn’t. My stomach was in knots. My world was in knots. As the pressure tightened in my chest, I wrote. I wrote through the ache for a friend, the unease for tomorrow and the guilt for worrying about my own end. Writing is how we untangle, but sometimes, our world is too knotted for us to untangle it alone — that is why mentoring writing matters in times of crisis. Days ago, I got the call to work with a fellow writer. As we talked through the true meaning of her printed words, I could hear her voice relax, and I could feel myself relax, as the urgent tension that propelled us through our pandemic days was released on the page. Writing is our way in, our way out, and our way to come together. It allows us to untie the constraints that have been wrapped around us so tightly, and to again, even just for a moment, be free.
Before UWEC classes switched to online, I worked with as many as seven students per week and had a sustained appointment once a week at the Center for Writing Excellence. Thankfully the CWE transitioned to online and allowed me to continue my job as a writing assistant. Once I had my first online appointment with my sustained student, I realized how much I missed our weekly conversations and seeing them blossom as a writer. I am thankful to still be able to connect with my sustained student and many other students through online appointments. Having the opportunity to help students with their writing has been the highlight of my days. Even though sessions are in a different format, they still give me a sense of normalcy in this crazy world we are living in.
During a time like this, it is an immeasurable relief to get back to tutoring. When I am otherwise trapped inside, I've found myself looking forward to my appointments even more than I already did as a means of not only connecting with other humans, but continuing to help students amidst a health crisis. This is a terrifying time and I think it's best for not only me but the student as well to take 45 minutes of our time and talk writing. We at the CWE are here to help with any writing assignments to make this stressful time less so.
Over the last few weeks, Blugolds have been adjusting to the new normal of self-isolation. For all, it is a difficult experience. For me, I’ve been struggling to adjust, and self-care quickly became a necessity. I’ve felt like a zombie.
When online classes began and the CWE reopened, I had two appointments at the beginning of the week. Talking with these students brought back a sense of productivity, community and connection. It reminded me that working with students on their writing was so much more than helping them brainstorm their thesis statement. Hearing the students get excited about their papers, witnessing these “Aha!” moments was like the sun finally coming out after a period of rainy days.
After these appointments, I felt rejuvenated, as if I finally remembered who I was and what I value. I love my job at the CWE, and I had missed the students. I truly credit my continued work at the center for helping me through a difficult and unprecedented time, by means of connection, conversation and even laughter in these sessions. Though so much remains uncertain at this time, I’m thankful to continue to work in the writing center, to further conversations about writing, and to contribute to an atmosphere that fosters real human relationships, through conversations about comma splices and beyond.