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Monday, September 29, 2008

Writing Center Society

In the truest--if that can be said--sense of a blog, I am going to ramble for a few lines about an issue that faces me in the Writing Center.
I love my job in the Writing Center. There is a great group of dedicated consultants and a supporting director. However, the society within the center is changing. Changing in a way that leaves me on the edges. This is not a 'bad' thing; it is what is happening.
Before I get into this more, I am not hurt or angry about this. Centers change and progress as the consultants come and go. I have seen my center change many times in many ways over the last three and a half-ish years. So I am not mad or hurt. The center is changing and I am not as much a part of it as before.
There are a number of good reasons for this. First, I am not working as many hours this year. My lack of exposure to the new crew prevents forming close bonds, and it prevents me from integrating into the changes.
Second, I am teaching now and I do not have as much time to just sit and talk with the other consultants. Years past I would spend my free time on the couch chatting with whomever was in the center. No longer.
Third, I am not a highly social person. I am comfortable in groups and can move easily within and between groups, but I do not often intentionally seek out groups or new friends. I rely on work and classes to introduce me to new people. This is important because a large portion of the other consultants is highly social, so they form groups and friendships and networks that I am not part of. It is not that I am actively excluded--at least, I do not think I am--it is that I do not seek these networks out.
So what does this mean? I do not know. For me, it means that I am watching a new group of consultants make the center their own. I see--partially--how eager, enthusiastic, energetic students become consultants and form their identity in the center.
But for a wider group, for other centers or my own, I think it means that every center is not a place or an idea, but rather the people who call it theirs. That sounds romantic and cheesy when I read back over it. However, from where I sit, my center is growing and changing in ways I would not direct it, but it is still my center.

5 comments:

  1. I've worked in a couple of writing centers, and I have seen that some people are voices in a center long after they're physically gone. We certainly miss your physical presence in the BSU Writing Center this semester, but I know I've learned a lot from you, and carry a bit of Zach-y-ness through my GA work. :)

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  2. We love having you around the center Zach.
    Observing your sessions always teaches me something new.
    Thanks for keepin it real. :)

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  3. Zachery, I completely understand the uneasiness with being phased out of a center. I spent 6 years at a center, as an undergrad and master's student, and then after being away for a month this past summer, I felt like an outsider in a space that I had considered a second home for so many years. You see, I was graduating and starting in the fall at a new university. I was not a part of my familiar center anymore, and I was not yet a member of a new center.

    Perhaps it was a bit of ego, but for some reason I thought I would be a welcome and desired member of that center even after I left, yet the reality of my situation hit me very quickly--it was no longer my home. I would need to establish a new one at my new school. I was quite sad about the loss, but I suppose that's how things work. Now that center belongs to other consultants and not me. But it's ok; that's the way it has to be I think.

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  4. Hi Zach,
    Very intriguing post. I wonder how you feel the writing center social atmosphere changes from year-to-year and what is it you see about this year's group exactly. Do us newbs possess characteristics or traits that separate us from previous staffs?

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  5. Hey Zach, I was thinking about your changing role at the center and other roles in your life which are in transition. I thought about how we call consultants like you "veterans" (a loaded word for an ex-military fellow like yourself). In a Zach-y way it got me thinking about how college is all about transition, about preparation for something else. As different tutors pass through, so do different students and over a longer span, so do professors. If you continue teaching, I was trying to imagine the sense of loss that must both accumulate and flow past as students move through your classes. Maybe it's a larger philosophical issue, the coping skills we have to get from somewhere that will help us with all these transitions. Who teaches us that it's time to move on, or how to do it? We get a piece of paper that says we graduated from school. Maybe we need a special diploma, a badge, or some other tangible thing which recognizes our commitment to the Writing Center cause, some way of acknowledging our time spent there besides a handshake and maybe an email from an old pal now and then. I don't mean like a depressing retirement party, more like a celebration. What do you think about that?

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