Tutoring at Viadrina University

Today’s post comes from Alicja Pitak, a peer tutor at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, where she is pursuing intercultural communication studies.

If somebody had told me a few years ago that I would work in an office or in a unit at a university in Germany, I would have considered this idea crazy. Me, a foreigner in a German unit at a university??? At that time it was hard for me to believe and now it is reality. My name is Alicja, I come from Poland and I am pursuing my masters in Intercultural Communication at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). I feel attached to the university not only because of my studies but also because of the job in the Writing Center (German: Schreibzentrum). I’m writing this blog to present my place of work as well as to share some experience and thoughts on the subject of what the Writing Center is for me and how I perceive the job of a writing tutor.

APitak_FotoI started my job at the university in April a year ago. What does the work as a peer tutor mean to me? Hm… This is my occupation in which I perfect my writing competence and help others in perfecting it. This is just one side of a coin. Actually I treat this job as a wonderful adventure and never-ending meeting with people and exchange of experience, values, smiles and joy. I’m glad to be able to enrich my studies at the Viadrina University and my stay on the Polish-German border in this way.

Coming back to Schreibzentrum where I’m sitting, I would like to pay attention to the atmosphere of work and education which prevails in our team. It is very friendly and unstressful. Thanks to this atmosphere I changed my approach to writing itself. Earlier I thought that writing was an activity in which you put your thoughts down to paper or to the computer screen.

In our Writing Center I understood and experience that this is a process in which a dialog with another person and me is realized. As many of my friends at the university share my earlier approach, I would like to spread my new approach and the atmosphere prevailing in the Center to lecturers, students and other people met in the context of academic or literary writing. I would like others to see this process from another perspective, which can bring them a lot of advantages, not only a positive approach to writing itself, but also perfecting this competence and the joy of creating texts.

If I were to say what our Writing Center at the university is in one sentence, then I would define it as a place where everything and everyone goes around writing. The science and research meets here, here the work of lecturers and students concentrates on academic writing and processes connected with it. Some people from and not from academic community may think that Schreibzentrum is a unit which provides help for students and doctoral students in preparing their theses. I would like to firmly reject such opinion and I’d like to pay attention to a wide range of different offers in our Schreibzentrum, aimed not only at students or doctoral students but also at academic teachers, secondary school students and foreigners. Academic workers who work in the Center support the development of academic writing as a scientific field and participate in academic writing discourses through research, conferences and publications. Apart from academic work Schreibzentrum employs students. The whole team is well-educated. I attended three seminars concerning academic writing and tutoring in this field and got the right certificate to become a tutor. This was time-consuming and sometimes challenging but now it brings satisfaction and advantages ☺. I’m very proud of myself that I managed to live up to the requirements of the education of a tutor and that I work among German-speaking students. Besides from that, thanks to my work I can constantly develop skills e.g. active listening, empathy and nice attitude to interlocutors ☺.

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To finish my post I would like to emphasize one more thing: writing, especially the academic one, may seem boring to a great number of people, tiring and not satisfying. It may be so but it doesn’t have to be so. Our Schreibzentrum at the European University Viadrina proves someting completely different: Writing brings joy, is interesting and develops students’ skill both academically and socially. This proves my experience and feelings. I prove this, a Polish student studying at the German university and working at a German writing center.

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