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Monday, February 25, 2013

The Road to Somewhere



It’s amazing what a bus and a conference can do for a writing center.

From February 21 to 23 in Corpus Christi, Texas, writing center consultants gathered at the South Central Writing Centers Association 2013 Conference.

Texas A&M University Writing Center (UWC) leaders encourage their consultants to submit proposals to the multiple conferences held each year, and so far they’ve presented in San Diego, Chicago, and approximately 25 consultants presented at SCWCA’s conference.

Depending on everything, a trip from College Station to Corpus Christi probably drains four-and-a-half hours from your life. UWC conference-goers rode a charter bus, and the trip took nearly five hours. Typically in the UWC, whoever you work with is who you will establish a professional (and sometimes personal) relationship with. This hinders what I consider the main goal of a writing center—which is to collaborate not just with students and faculty but also with colleagues. 

Because work schedules affect the interaction between consultants in the UWC, the bus ride was an opportunity to form or strengthen relationships. Whether you’re planning to head to a conference, a farm, or to Disneyland, rent a charter bus or something in which you share a space where conversations will blossom and turn into colorful petals. More, the power of communal experience will refresh your team’s perspectives on writing centers and, perhaps more importantly, life.

Sharing stories, watching movies, and reflecting on your purpose in life—just a couple awesome things that happened on the ride to and from Corpus. Once the bus arrived at the Holiday Inn, we got our rooms and registered for the conference. We were encouraged, not required, to attend presentations. This mindset makes sense, because when someone tells you NOT to do something you likely won’t, except when on a suspension bridge and told not to look down. Phrased in affirmative language, a request to do something is more likely to happen: I hope you look down because you’ll see the beauty of the red bluffs canyon and the icy blue river. The power of affirmative language will refresh your team’s perspective on writing centers and, perhaps more importantly, life.

Traveling with people you work with changes you. Collaborating with people you work with changes you. Sharing a space or a hotel room and discussing the world’s problems until 2 A.M. changes you. Slight or substantial, these changes will promote self-awareness, empathy, and learning—all things that will improve our writing centers.

Anthony Pannone is a Texas A&M University graduate student, studying agricultural leadership, education, and communications. He likes to sit toward the back of the bus because that's where the magic happens. Find him on Facebook or send him a tweet @agrospheric.

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