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The Student Writing Center's purpose to assist fellow writers. Writing tutors examine the pieces they bring forth and give advice to the best of their ability. Today at the center I've come across a some interesting pieces of writing. What I've seen today has me thinking, "At what point, do we the tutors, notice that we will be little to no help on the piece brought to us?"
Electrical Engineering. How many writing tutors are familiar with this subject? How about the format some engineers are required to place their format in? If I remember right, the report brought to me was in EEE format or something similar to. This session was interesting, luckily I knew the student from a shared class a few semesters back. We have helped each other constantly, so he was unafraid to bring me up to speed with the correct format. In return I struggled through lots of statistics and unfamiliar terms. I was actually able to help in the end. It turns out he needed assistance with flow and transition between each subject. I may not know what exactly his report was discussing but I was sure able to clean up the formatting and organization of the topics to make it sound better-ish!
A few hours later a student sat down appearing winded. She reached deep in her bag with pauses to catch her breath. First thing that came to my mind was, Yup, it's another last minuter. *Slap* The piece was placed before me with an abnormal title. "Vows." Oh that's not good. "I need help writing my wedding vows." I was baffled, nothing could have prepared me for that. I've never been married and every marriage I've gone to, I'd have a notebook or game boy hidden away. I was forced to rely on what I did know and go from there... I was about to read it out loud, then stopped. Part of me felt that this maaayy not be the best thing to read out loud. So I read it silently and broke it up into sections, or tried to. It was everywhere. I can imagine getting married would shake you up so I couldn't blame her, in fact I tried to make a joke or two to help her relax. She just gave me a transparent smile. If she didn't show me how frazzled she felt, her writing reflected it. There were tons of statements that could possibly be taken differently than what she meant. "I will only be loyal to you and your family." I pointed this out and asked, "So... You wont be loyal to your own family too?" She blushed and scribbled away muttering, "Oh wait! no that's not right!". This occurred several times until the vows themselves. I Googled a couple examples to help her see what kind of promises she could make that were follow-able.
As a writing tutor I want to help in whatever I can, I enjoy sharing my knowledge with those that ask for it. I know a lot of things but there are many things I have no clue about. Even though the student's thank me for my opinion I'm wondering if I'm as useful as a 'DVD Re-winder'. In a way I'm sure I'm helpful but next time I will be better prepared to be able to assist to the fullest.