I haven't posted before now, because frankly, I was trying to sort through the consultations I have had and figure out what I can do to become a better tutor. My first consultation was two weeks ago with a business student who was using the COBE style manual. I had never heard of it before this consultation, and because of my lack of knowledge, I let the whole consultation slip away from me. Instead of asking the student how he wanted to structure the session, I dove into the manual and started right away with citation (which took me nearly the entire session). In the last few minutes, I asked if there were other problems. He pointed out his last two paragraphs, which had no logical connection to each other. I gave him a few suggestions on transitions, but I kept thinking, if his whole paper was like this, I just did him a huge disservice. This consultation made me really question myself and whether I was ready to take on this responsibility. If I couldn't even help an English speaking business student, how would I be able to help someone with whom I didn't share a common language?
This week gave me the challenge, and as a result, the confidence I needed to keep going. On Monday, I came in to work and checked my appointments. I had a consultation for a science paper right off the bat. A few minutes later, a man probably in his forties walked through the door and in broken English asked about making an appointment. I approached him to ask when he wanted the appointment, and he pulled out a piece of paper with my name on it. Now I got it. He was my first appointment of the day. My heart was beating out of control as I got him started on the paperwork. I am not a strong science student, and though I was able to communicate with the student pretty well, I was terrified.
I looked over the paperwork and saw that the student was from China and the paper we were working on was on molecular pharmacology. Talk about intimidation!!! As we made our way into the consultation, I was pleasantly surprised. There was no way that I could begin to understand the content of the paper. The concepts were miles above my head. But the student simply wanted to look over sections of the paper his professor had commented on and have me tell him if they were written in proper English. It was helpful to have the comments in the margins because I was able to see what questions the Prof. had. As we went over the sections, I was able to point out the difference in certain terms, help the student break down his thoughts into smaller, more comprehensible pieces of information, and improve the flow of the paper. He was very grateful for the help he received, and I was incredibly grateful for his patience and openness. At the end of the session, he gave me his card which informed me that he was a professor of pharmacology in China, as well as a director of and doctor at a major hospital. Boy, am I glad that was known after the session. It really made me think about my position on the totem pole. I am nowhere near as smart as this student, but what a confidence booster to know that in a small way, I was able to help him out. That was a great day!!