Editor’s note: for the first installment in this series, click here. Read on for excellent stories from Lara, Jimmy, and Nne!
NNE NWANKWO Pursuing Political Science, Urban Affairs & Planning, and Creative Writing at Virginia Tech
As a Nigerian (from metropolitan Lagos), I grew up learning and understanding several languages at the same time. Nigeria is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, and more importantly, Lagos is the melting pot of the nation. As an Igbo girl, I learned Igbo growing up; and as a contemporary Nigerian, pidgin English is necessary to enjoyably engage in any conversation. As a Lagosian, Yoruba (no matter how little) is important to convincingly haggle with a hawker or to spit fire at a rude neighbor. Furthermore, as francophone nations of Benin, Cameron and Togo border Nigeria, French is the mandatory foreign language in schools. In fact, most contemporary Nigerian songs incorporate a mix of Nigerian pidgin, Yoruba and Igbo, and many times, other minority languages. Sometimes, the songs include French ad-libs also. Nigerian music is a direct representation of the average Nigerian’s speaking and writing patterns – a beautifully jumbled mesh of multiple languages.
Editor’s note: I recently put out a call to hear the stories and perspective of those that work in our centers who come from a multi-lingual, multi-national, multi-cultural background. I hope you enjoy the following stories from Claudia and Kumar as much as I do, and the way they highlight the important, fostering work writing centers do.
Currently I am one of only 3 international students in the English Language and Literature program. I come from Chile, where I got my B.A. in English and Education. As you may have guessed, my first language is Spanish. I learned English at University. While I was in my junior year I was awarded a scholarship to work as a language assistant in the UK. I lived in South Wales for a year, helping High School seniors develop their language skills in Spanish. Until that point in my life, my contact with English had been limited to the classroom setting. Living in a country where the language is actually is spoken is very different.
With this blog post I want to highlight some of the events of The Long Night Against Procrastination Across Germany. When browsing Twitter with hashtag #lndah, I came across a tweet by Dennis Fassing, who mixed tweets, posters and images with his own commentary in a stori-fy compilation. Although the texts are in German, I think that readers from around the globe will appreciate the many faces and forms this event took on this year on or around March 5, 2015.
Associate editor Lee Ann Glowzenski, a key architect of the archive, shares that “WcORD is a community project, and we’re depending on users to help the database to grow. We’d love to see the addition of writing center websites and blogs, links to articles and handouts, videos and multimedia presentations — any and all resources that writing center practitioners and researchers use in their everyday work.”
Mickey Harris agrees. “Join on in! Enter the online resources they have for their centers or that they know about (including the URLs for their WCA organizations). Together, we can make this an invaluable resource for our community.”
Although the Long Night Against Procrastination began five years ago at Viadrina University in Frankfurt/Oder (one hour east of Berlin and the location of the 2014 EWCA conference), universities across the pond have also caught on. Julie Nelson Christoph, Director of the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA shares this year’s event with us.
Those of us who procrastinate have a special relationship with our procrastination, in its many varieties and causes. There’s the dreaded procrastination because of fear of the task, there’s joyous procrastination because of more enticing alternatives, and—when we’re smart—there’s what Professor John Perry calls “structured procrastination,” or putting the urge to procrastinate to good use by re-prioritizing our priority lists, so that the truly useful tasks (like major writing projects) become the distractions from the other tasks on the list (like vaguely important emails that seem pressing but have been forgotten by everyone but you).
Stephanie Dreyürst, founder and director of the Writing Center at Frankfurt’s Goethe-University, holds a PhD in Early Modern German Literature. She is interested in everything that has to do with (academic) writing, reading and thinking. Her favorite areas of research include personal learning environments, writing intensive courses, Writing Fellows, and Digital Humanities projects. She’s a proud member of the board of the German Skeptics. Below is her account of the #lnap events this year in Germany.
Like every year, I wrote and read a lot during the Long Night Against Procrastination. Only this time I never left home. My bed, to be precise.
Normally, as one of two Directors of the Writing Center at Frankfurt’s Goethe University, I would have been with our peer tutors, supervising the event, watching writers settle into the library’s seats, making sure everybody was fine and happy, drinking the occasional cup of coffee (or three), closing the doors after a really long night, probably around 6:30 in the morning. But not this time.
Both my colleague and I had caught a cold and we just couldn’t be there. A real pity, because it’s such a special night for all of us and we normally have a huge amount of fun with the students and our tutors. But being bed-stricken gave me the opportunity to watch much closer than I normally would have what my colleagues at other Writing Centers were doing and what all the nocturnal writers were saying about their perspective on the Long Night Against Procrastination. Continue reading →
Every week the blog editors would like to highlight a few activities, materials or events related to writing centers from around the globe. We intend this to be a simple, fun weekly list of good reading/memes/links around the web by/for/about writing centers. You can help us by sending us links or those tidbits of information that make our readers smile.
So for this first post I spent some time on Pinterest and entered the keywords “writing+center” first and found a great number of virtual writing center spaces curated by parents and teachers for elementary and middle school children. I then added another keyword to the search “university+writing+center” and I came across three digital spaces from three universities. The writing consultants at the University of Nevada, Reno writing center started 12 boards and have so far compiled 138 pins. Why not check out the UNR writing center space on Pinterest now? The board titles range from “Writer’s Block,” “Writing Humor” to ‘Real World Writing.”
The IUP Writing Center has 18 boards so far that include information for “IUP Faculty” but also “Just for Laughs,” “Staying Productive” to “Writing in the News.”
This year March 5, 2015 is the day many international writing centers celebrate the Long Night Against Procrastination. Patrick Johnson, Director of the Meijer Center for Writing at Grand Valley State University, shares how his institution has run a #lndah, or how they refer to it, a #NAP event for the last 3 years (this year will be their 4th). Unfortunately, due to the university’s spring break, the Center for Writing has delayed their NAP event until March 12-13. Below is a brief overview about the planned events.
The Night Against Procrastination has become an annual tradition at Grand Valley State University. We started offering the event four years ago after learning about it from Sandra Ballweg (TU Darmstadt). Each year it has grown and we have been able to involve more campus programs in the promotion and organization of the event. The first year we held the event we had roughly 120 students attend, whereas last year we had over 200.
For students, NAP is an opportunity to get started on end-of-semester projects/papers after returning from spring break. For writing consultants, it is an essential form of staff bonding where many consultants participate as students as well as assisting with the running of the event. Traditionally, there are not many public outreach events that writing center’s host, so NAP is our one event where we invite everyone on campus to come to the writing center, learn about services, and surround themselves with productivity. A local pizza restaurant donates pizza for our midnight snack and we also offer desk yoga, brain games, campus walks and sunset viewings, as well as a victor’s breakfast for those who survive the night. We also give out pins to students who participate that say “power napper” and “I went all night.” Continue reading →
Given the drumbeat about the need for assessment, we’re asking for your thoughts on Neal Lerner’s “Counting Beans and Making Beans Count,” Vol. 22.1 (September 1997), and if appropriate to what is on your mind, also his later “Choosing Beans Wisely” Vol. 26.1 (September, 2001). Both articles are available in the open access Archives on the WLN website. We look forward to reading your thoughts about this topic and sharing them with other WLN readers.
As part of our 40th anniversary celebration of the Writing Lab Newsletter (scheduled to become WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship with the beginning of Vol. 40 in Sept.), we also extend a broader invitation for you to reflect on an article that has appeared at some point during all those years. How has some particular article influenced writing center scholarship and work? How has this topic changed directions since the time in which it was written? Why? What relevance does the article have?
The National Peer Tutoring in Writing Conference announces its conference and call for proposals
The theme of the 2015 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) and Rocky Mountain Peer Tutor Conference is “(De)Center: Testing Assumptions about Peer Tutoring and Writing Centers.” Throughout its history, peer tutoring has often operated on a set of sometimes untested assumptions, such as that peer-to-peer tutoring is an effective way of learning, that peers can collaborate in non-hierarchical relationships, that a writer’s role in the tutoring session is different than the tutor’s, and that best methodologies are known and easily practiced. As the assumed divide between the classroom, writing center and community shifts, peer tutors are challenged to find a place for themselves within dynamic rhetorical situations. By (de)centering traditional notions of peer tutoring, we can re-imagine the idea of a center as a place and a praxis.