In her paper, Bruce outlines many of the challenges that face both the individual tutor but also the writing center as a whole. While all the problems are different yet related, her interaction with Sami is the one that sticks with me. Each student faces cultural differences that place stress on the tutor-tutee relationship. In Sami’s case however, this manifests itself to the point that he is unable to continue using the writing center.
What I wonder from reading this is if there is an alternative setting for Sami to receive help on his writing. Stanford does a terrific job with writing tutoring as they offer not only a writing center but also resident writing tutors (RWTs). While not offered in every dorm, RWTs generally do not hold hours in the writing center but are instead in satellite locations closer to the residences. For a student who does not have an RWT in his or her dorm, he or she is still able to locate the RWT online, find their hours, and receive help. For a student with an RWT in their dorm, he or she hopefully knows the RWT beforehand and has an established relationship with the tutor making the session a little less stressful. RWTs are a great way to alleviate the pressure of having to walk into the writing center, log in, and have everyone there know you are receiving help on your paper. For people like Sami, this seems like it could be a tremendous help. For the RWT, this special role points out how in their dorm they have to be more than just a tutor; in order to truly make a tutee comfortable they must be a friend/advocate/staff member first and a tutor second. It also shows the importance of picking where you tutor, when you tutor, and how you go about helping the student.
It may be the case that being too close to the tutor can still hurt the tutoring process for the student. Jung-jun for example stated she would have trouble asking a classmate for help on her writing. However, I feel that the RWT is in a unique place to overcome this issue as well. Being close to the tutee and establishing a relationship beforehand allows the tutor to know more about the student and the student’s perspective. It would be hard for a random classmate to guess why Jung-jun would not let him or her read her paper. However, an RWT should known enough and his or her residents to understand their perspective and some potential obstacles. The RWT could even specifically approach the resident on these issues and question them, trying to learn more and find new ways to help.
The RWT is, in my opinion, very well placed to combat some of the issues that both Sami and Jung-jun face. They may not be able to make himself or herself older or more knowledgeable. But if they use the residential setting to their advantage, if they are a staff member first and put the needs of their students before anything else, then the RWTs might be able to crack through the cultural boundaries with their own personal touch.
Bruce, Shanti. “Listening to and Learning from ESL Writers.” ESL Writers: A Guide for Writing Center Tutors 2. Web. 8 May 2012. <https://coursework.stanford.edu/access/content/group/Sp12-PWR-195-01/Bruce-Listening%20to%20and%20Learning%20from%20ESL%20Writers.pdf>.