Let’s go to the Writing Center at the European University Viadrina. At the wooden door hang colorful signs that indicate the opening times, the writing hours, consulting hours for doctoral candidates and other services of the Writing Center. You’ll also find our mission statement, printed on red paper, and various newspaper articles.
I open the door and hear the gurgling of the coffee machine. Throughout the room it scents like coffee. Sebastian is sitting at the tutors’ computer and smiles at me. The room is big and many things happen in this room.
Sometimes I imagine I could use a jar to collect all the thoughts of students, of the seminar participants, of doctoral students, of the writing consultants, of the participants of the Certificate, “Writing Center Work and Literacy Management” and of my team. Would they fit into one jar? Or I would I have to use lots of small, large, thick and thin glasses, looking to capture all the thoughts? And if I would open it, with what kind of thoughts would the air of the room and the corridors of the language center building be filled? It’s like this: writers do not just think about the text surface, but they have to deal intensively with their writing topics. The air would smell like Adorno, Elbow, Foucault, Keynes, Mayring, Kant, Kleist … they all were already in our writing center.
Yesterday I prepared for the seminar “Learning academic writing through process steps and writing advice.” I moved tables and chairs so that all 25 students would have enough room to work.
Once a student expressed how amazed she is that every time she comes, the room would look different. Yes, the room is multifunctional, not only because of the movable tables and chairs.
Sometimes it is a seminar room (I change all the tables, form a long seminar table).
Sometimes it is a writing consulting room (we are distributing the tables like small islands ready for conversations).
Sometimes, the room opens space for the participants of the training (I build long boards and small islands).
Sometimes it is our staff meeting room (we get together and discuss everything over a cup of coffee).
Sometimes it is a place for our writing events, such as the “Long Night against Procrastination” or “writing marathon” .
And sometimes the writing center is just writing room, library or research area.
The room is also our office. In the left corner there is my desk. I sit here almost every day planning my seminars, writing, coordinating, answering the thousands of e-mails, writing, phoning, writing …..
To the right you find the computer of the writing tutors. They are often here, because we offer consulting hours four times every week. The writing tutors are also here to develop handouts, to write concepts and to help me at work. Often the tutors stay to meet each other and to work on their own papers and research.
In our writing center so many people come together and all have something in common. They write and are interested in writing. For example, last weekend the second module of our certificate “writing center work and Literacy Management” took place. Many interested lecturers, university staff from all over Germany and even Austria came together to learn about “Writing and Teaching Literarcy Management”. It was a very nice weekend. The yellow and orange lilies are still on the table and smell. They remind me of the successful weekend.
Yesterday the peer tutors held their consulting hours. They shared thoughts with the consultants about their homework essays or theses. Writers sat down on the blue sofa and waited patiently until it was their turn. Yesterday we also had visitors from the University of Kassel, and I showed them our well-equipped library for writing and teaching.
Today, a seminar will take place in academic writing and peer tutoring. The tables have been moved and the colorful papers are just waiting to become scribbled. Afterwards, there will be a seminar on writing for students of Intercultural Germanistik. Tomorrow morning we have team meeting and then we will open our doors for the writing advice and counseling – small consulting islands will conjure up quickly. Louise will sit at my desk and work on budget calculations for our projects and I will meanwhile have lunch at one of the tables. Thursday it will become a little calmer and I can work more focused on my desk until Anna and Sebastian will come and offer writing advice for their peers.
Our writing center – it is a living and beautiful space.
(This article is a translation of an article by Franziska Liebetanz, published in the Blog of the writing center of European University Viadrina)