Please welcome to the blog our new associate editor for the Middle East and North Africa, Anna Habib – editor.
Anna S. Habib is the Associate Director of Composition, at both the George Mason University home campus and at the branch campus in Songdo, South Korea & coordinator and instructor in the Graduate Writing Across the Disciplines courses for INTO Mason, Mason’s pathway program for graduate and undergraduate international students.
Anna S. Habib was born in Beirut, Lebanon, during the civil war to a Lebanese father and American mother. When she was four years old, her family fled to the neighboring island of Cyprus where she grew up in a community of refugees from surrounding countries. As a bi-cultural, bi-national child from a post-colonial context, she grew up with English, Arabic and French as native languages and Greek as a second language. These intercultural, translingual experiences inspired her to pursue a BA in English with a concentration in Cultural Studies, and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at George Mason University. She graduated from the MFA program in 2006. Her thesis, which she hopes to continue working on someday, is titled “A Block from Bliss Street: Growing up as a child of the Lebanese civil war.” She is currently pursuing her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric also at Mason, where she served as the Associate Director of the Writing Center for five years until she transitioned to her current position as Associate Director of Composition for Multilingual Writers.
Her research and publications have focused on the experiences of multilingual writers adapting to the expectations of the U.S. academy, faculty perceptions of writing by multilingual students, and designing writing courses that are attuned to the diverse needs of this population. She is currently working on an auto-ethnography that aims to explore and theorize individual experiences of trauma and displacement.
Anna S. Habib has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction (2006) and is near completing her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric from George Mason University. She served in several positions in the Mason Writing Center, from graduate tutor to Acting Director. Currently, she is the Associate Director of Composition, managing the undergraduate composition courses for multilingual students at both the George Mason University home campus and at the branch campus in Songdo, South Korea. She also coordinates and teaches the Graduate Writing across the Disciplines courses for INTO Mason, Mason’s pathway program for graduate and undergraduate international students.
WLN blog: Can you share some of your story? Habib:I was born in Beirut during the civil war to an American mother and a Lebanese father. At the age of four, when the war began to escalate, my parents, sister, and I fled the country on a small boat with other refugees who had found an illegal way out of the country. We made our way to the island of Cyprus where I grew up in a community of immigrant/refugees from Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, and the former Soviet Union. My father’s family opened a branch of their Lebanese school in Cyprus for this community of displaced students. The school followed the French Lycée curriculum, meaning all subjects were taught in French (a consequence of Lebanon’s post-colonial history), but the curriculum also included Arabic literature and language and English and Greek as required courses. When I turned 15, my family emigrated to the US to live with my mother’s parents. The shift from a tiny Mediterranean island surrounded by my native languages and my community of friends to a North Jersey high school in a wealthy community was extremely jarring.
I managed to find my way through high school, and then moved to Virginia to attend George Mason University as an undergraduate student. The campus felt a lot more comfortable than my high school environment—I was surrounded by other students from the Middle East and North African region and began to form friendships again with peers who also spoke Arabic as their first language or who had had similar international experiences.
WLN blog: What was the role of writing centers in your academic experience in the US? Habib: I didn’t encounter the concept of a writing center until my undergraduate studies at Mason. In the Lebanese school/French lycée system, writing was not taught as a process. Students were often required to write decontextualized essays in class or at home that demonstrated their mastery of literary/philosophical concepts without any feedback or conversations on drafts. During my undergraduate studies at Mason, I visited the writing center once, but couldn’t appreciate the possibilities of the peer-feedback approach yet. It wasn’t until I was hired as a graduate research assistant for Terry Myers Zawacki and Chris Thaiss’ book, Engaged Writers, Dynamic Disciplines (2006), that I learned about the work of writing centers. I sat in the back hallway of the writing center and transcribed dozens of Terry’s and Chris’ interviews with faculty across the curriculum describing their own experiences as writers, and how those experiences informed their writing pedagogy. As I typed and typed for hours, I watched students and tutors interact in thoughtful conversations about writing projects. Through listening to faculty perspectives and observing tutors and students in action, I began to understand pretty clearly that the role of writing in the US academy was significantly different than its role in non-US academic contexts like the one I grew up in. Continue reading “Transnational Collaborations and Writing Center Development at an English-Medium University in Lebanon”→