Student Writing Tutor Shares Her Experiences in New Post – St. Olaf College
An essay by St. Olaf College student Clare Wongwai ’22 titled “How Gratitude Informs Tutoring: Finding Comfort in the Unknown” will be published in June in the collection Student Writing Tutors in Their Own Words: Global Voices on Writing Centers and Beyond.
Bringing together personal accounts from writing teachers around the world, the book fills a gapresearch on writing center theory, first-year writing pedagogy, and higher education academic support resources, providing evidence of student experiences in learning support discourse communities .
Wongwai was a tutor at St. Olaf office since her freshman year on campus, and her essay reflects her unique experience as a writing tutor, particularly during the pandemic, with an emphasis on gratitude, empathy, and what she calls “the lasting smile.” “.
With the goal of creating better writers, not just better articles, there is a collaborative, focused, and exploratory atmosphere in St. Olaf Writing Desk’s tutorial sessions, which inspired Wongwai.
“In high school, I imagined tutoring as you go, you ask a question, they give you an answer — like an exchange,” says Wongwai. But as she worked in the writing desk, she realized that tutoring, especially at St. Olaf, was so much more than that.
“It was a new experience for me, but in a good way,” Wongwai says. “This is how teaching should be – a dynamic, student-centered perspective is important.”
Everyone’s writing has its own strengths, says Wongwai, and the writing desk provides a space for students to learn the value of their voice. The self-confidence fostered by this space and validation is invaluable, she adds.
When Writing Desk tutors are not with students, they do trainings or team projects, where they learn and develop skills to serve the St. Olaf community, enrich their experience, and prepare for their future vocation. .
Bridget Draxler, Associate Director of Writing, Speaking and Academic Support, approaches her training sessions with tutors holistically, not only improving their tutoring skills, but also developing their empathy and preparing them for their future vocations.
A training session focused on tutoring with gratitude that took place in March 2020, just before the onset of COVID-19, really resonated with Wongai, whose research interest is largely focused on positionality and taking. awareness of how we impact others through our interactions with them.
The training inspired her essay, which highlights the positive impact she hopes to have on her students by incorporating elements of gratitude into her tutoring sessions.
We won’t always see the impact we have on others, Wongwai says in his essay, “but we can strive to create spaces and foster interaction with the intention of having lasting and positive impacts on those we work with.”
Draxler says Wongwai is one of the most thoughtful tutors she has had the opportunity to work with, and “to see her write about her work as a tutor and want to share it with others makes me beyond proud of ‘she”.
Now that she’s been leading tutoring sessions for years, Wongwai is good at listening carefully, understanding what people have to say, articulating, and asking guiding questions. She plans to pursue work in clinical psychology.
Wongwai is in the process of submitting his work to another publication. After presenting standard written English, anti-racist terminology, pedagogy and practice in relation to their position as writing tutors in November 2021 for the National Conference of Writing Peer TutorsWongwai and two fellow Oles, Pajai Vue ’22 and Zoë Miller ’23, were approached by a newspaper editor and asked to write an article.
“I’m really grateful to have all these opportunities to conduct projects in the field and to pursue these writing desk research opportunities and publications through St. Olaf and the writing desk,” Wongwai says.
Beyond his work at the writing desk, Wongwai is a board member of the Asian American Student Union and helped plan Asian American and Pacific Islander Visibility Week and Lunar New Year performances at St. Olaf. She also went to China and Japan with the Asian Conversations Programand studied in South Korea at Yonsei University.
Wongwai also completed an internship at a non-profit refugee resettlement organization and collaborated with St. Olaf Asian Studies Associate Professor Ka Wong and six other student researchers – Mila New ’22, Ling O’Donoghue’ 21, Yinglin Sun ’21, Mai Xee Vang ’22, Anabelle Xiong ’22 and Dez Young ’21 – on a project on the visibility of Asian Americans in higher education.
Wongwai says the small, tight-knit community of St. Olaf, along with close friends and mentors like Wong and Draxler, were instrumental in his success on the Hill.
“All of these people and experiences helped me take elements from different disciplines and add them to my own skill development,” says Wongwai.
Draxler says she is proud of all that Wongwai has accomplished. “I’m so happy for her. It’s all her fault – it’s been one of my dreams to see tutors take ownership of their work and see the writing desk as their own,” says Draxler. “And Clare did just that.”