I sit in a comfortable chair and wait for “that” time. Then someone knocks on the door and says: “Hello. My name is Laila. I came for a consultation.” I smile and welcome her. We sit down at the table and I ask the long-awaited question: “How can I help you?” An awkward pause follows. I see that the student is shy and reluctant. I try to comfort her and switch the topic to “How are you these days?” After small talk, the comfortable atmosphere of the writing center, and a smiling face directed towards Laila helps her open up. We go back to the purpose of the consultation. She shows me the rubric received from teacher and her outline. I look through them and some questions immediately arise in my mind. First, I want to point to the mistakes directly; however, I tell myself “I am here to guide her and not to do the work for her.” For this, I ask Laila tricky questions:
“Laila, what do you think about this point? Did you mean that cats do not sleep? How come? Did I understand you correctly?” I look at her and smile. “Give her few seconds to think” – I say to myself. Laila exclaims, “Oh no! I meant something different. Now I get my mistake.”
We go one by one through all the questions that I have in my mind. Once we are done, my questioning face is directed at her. “Laila, do you have questions?” She raises her eyebrows and thinks a bit. And then suddenly her face becomes cheerful: “Oh, I remember! I wanted to ask about references! Could you please explain me how I can cite the journals properly?” I strain my brain convolutions and try to explain in the most understandable language. First, I see the confusion on her face but after a few seconds it dissipates. She listens to me carefully, asks questions and takes notes. At some point something hits my mind and I realize that I kept her for 20 minutes longer. She notices this as well. She collects all notes she has made at the consultation, takes her bag, and stands up. Before leaving the office, she looks at me, smiles and tells me, “Thank you very much. I have learnt a lot”. Once she leaves, I sigh. One more precious “Thank you” in my luggage. Every time I hear these two seemingly simple but, in fact, important words, I cannot be prouder of myself. One more person whom I helped. Isn’t this the best feeling? I look at the clock. “It is time.” I tell myself. Someone knocks the door and says: ”Hello. My name is…”
About the author – Dunya Suleymanova: I have been working as a consultant at the Writing Center of ADA University since 2018. As a peer writing consultant, my responsibilities include having appointments with students and participating in and organizing writing-related events. In fact, I didn’t think there might be much in common between academic writing, which is the main focus of the Writing Center, and creative writing. However, by writing this mini-story, I have learnt a number of things that will definitely help me develop as a peer consultant. This work helped me better understand my feelings about writing consultations and that writing about oneself was very challenging. Hence, I realize how I can better guide students, who write reflection papers.