This past week I attended the Southeastern Writing Conference Association in Birmingham, Alabama. As a tutor at the writing center, we are encouraged to conduct research to better the writing center and our own tutoring skills. This is my second semester tutoring for the Emory Writing Center, and upon hearing about the conference, I was interested in presenting my own work myself. It would be my first time at a regional conference and would help me give back to the writing center.
After noticing the emphasis tutor training puts on helping international and English language learners in the writing center, I wanted to create or compile a handout that provided tips for working with Caribbean Creole English (CCE) speakers. These students understand what is called Standard English (SE). However, since Creole developed orally and is not typically written, it proves to be a challenge to write in Standard Written English (SWE) for Creole speaking writers. Moreover, because these writers already understand and know English, using the same techniques that are used for English language learners is not beneficial.
A week before the conference, I received an email with the program schedule. I quickly searched for my name and felt excited when I found it beneath my abstract. That excitement slowly became anxiety as I realized I would be presenting on the first day of the conference in the afternoon. Everyone else I was going with would be presenting on Saturday, the last day of the conference. I began to feel immensely underprepared. My slides were all over the place, I hadn't practiced presenting, and the worst part, I was suffering from an acute case of Imposter's syndrome.
As expected, once I did a few run throughs and practiced with people, my fears dissipated. I was glad that I was able to present early on in the conference and be able to enjoy the rest of presentations without my worries gnawing at the back of my mind. Another perk I hadn't realized was that more people were present on the first day to attend the presentations. I was surprisingly grateful that I had a substantial crowd who chose to come listen to me. They were also engaged; asking questions and staying the whole time.
Pushing myself to pursue research outside of the my classes and my job, I am glad to have had the experience of presenting my work beyond the classroom setting. I was able to meet tutors from other universities and the way they manage their writing centers. I enjoyed attending presentations I was interested in to better the writing center and to improve my skills as a tutor. I hope to utilize the information and advice I learned from the conference in my tutoring practice at Emory.
I hope I have the chance to attend another SWCA conference before I graduate. I was lucky to have the support of my supervisors, colleagues, and friends to decide to go to a conference in the first place.