April 20, 2013

Lafayette Jobs

So last time I wrote a little bit about creative writing at Lafayette. I’d like to add that this Monday, the 22nd, the Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship will hold its first annual CaPA showcase, with performances by its Fellows and an exhibition of work. Unfortunately, I will be in class and won’t be able to attend, but I hope to be able to write some more about the showcase after seeing the dress rehearsal in a few days.

CaPA Showcase, April 22nd

CaPA Showcase, April 22nd

But for now, instead of talking about creative writing, I thought I’d switch gears and talk a little about my job on campus as a Writing Associate (WA) for the College Writing Program. This is my third semester of being a WA, and truly, despite the long weeks of conferences, it is one of my favorite jobs I have held (although I’ve been lucky enough to have enjoyed most of them).

As a WA, I am assigned each semester to a class, usually a First Year Seminar in the fall semester and a VaST in the spring. With this class, I hold three to four rounds of conferences with each of the students, in addition to working at the Drop-In hours every week or two. Just yesterday I finished my last round of conferences with my class, Natural and Social Disasters taught by Professor Washington. Although the first two rounds consisted of brainstorming sessions in preparation for two papers, one about income disparity and one about the government response to Hurricane Katrina, during this last round we talked about the students’ papers—organization, thesis statements, introduction paragraphs, citations.

Image of flyer advertising the College Writing Program Drop-In

College Writing Program Drop-In http://cwp.lafayette.edu/

Now, I understand for a fair amount of humans—and indeed, for a fair amount of fellow students—what I just described might sound incredibly dull. But to be honest, I really love it. I find that the students I work with often have interesting ideas but can’t figure out how to put them to words, or are interested in multiple topics but struggle to connect them, or have an idea that they’re not sure can last them throughout the paper. 9 times out of 10, they have all the answers in their own words when they talk it out to me, or answer my questions, or diagram out their ideas on a piece of paper with me. Seeing them piece together what they already know, tell me I was such a help, and walk away looking relieved and more confident is really rewarding–and fun.

This summer, I am going to work as a Senior Interviewer for the Admissions Office. I’m excited for the job–I always love to talk to prospective students and am hardly able to now that I am no longer a tour guide–but I am also particularly excited for the opportunity it will present for me to learn more skills like those I’ve gained from the College Writing Program. Everyone has a voice, and experiences, and opinions, and stories. Sometimes, when we’re lucky, those individuals are eager to share them.

Those are sometimes great WA conferences, when the students sit down and say, “This is my idea, this is what I’ve done and what I plan to do, and these are my questions.” But sometimes the most rewarding conferences are the ones when students come in tongue-twisted and confused about their work, telling me they have no idea what they’re doing and or where they’re going. Within half an hour, I very rarely find this to be the case (unless the student hasn’t done any of the reading or work–fortunately, a rarity), and it usually takes only some curiosity and questions to get them thinking off the same track they’ve pounded for the past few days. Suddenly, the answers are there.

I know Senior Interviewing will be different. Students may be shy, or awkward, or afraid to say the wrong thing. I’m imagining that the stakes are much higher in these interviews than in a WA conference. But I think the idea is the same–everyone has their answers. I’m excited to learn about them.

posted in Madeline Gambino

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