I spent my Spring break in St. Louis with another student tutor and two faculty members from Colby’s Farnham Writers’ Center. The group and I went here in order to present at the annual IWCA (International Writing Center Association) conference. We also went to the CCCC (Conference on College Composition and Communication) Conference, as the Director of the Writers’ Center was chairing a panel there. I can honestly say that this was one of the best school breaks I’ve had in a long time.
The topic of the IWCA (un)conference was activism in writing centers. The other tutor and I designed a hybrid workshop and discussion on the topic. We also attended another session at the IWCA; the session used postmodern mapping techniques in order to collectively solve problems that different participants were facing at their respective writing centers. I found that this was a great way to learn about the different programs and arrangements characteristic of writing centers across the nation. It also provoked me to consider the possible applications of some of the things that I’ve been learning about in my class on postmodernity.
On Thursday, the group went to the CCCC conference. I observed about four different sessions at this conference, and I had a blast. I was able to Live Tweet from some of the panels, which made me feel like a genuine to-be professor—those who know me will understand the immense thrill that I got from this simple activity. I also loved how diverse the topics of the sessions were at the CCCC conference; despite topical diversity, they all proposed readings of the role of composition in the contemporary college classroom. My favorite session, for example, was on objects and materiality. The speakers talked about everything from freezers to trombones to scrapbooks in order to stress that writing is an object, but it is not a stable one; therefore, it is conducive to and should be mobilized in the service of discussing processes and becoming. I also attended sessions on spaces of possibility, play, and agency in the classroom and in professional writing. These sessions offered that everything from the revise-and-resubmit process to videogames can engage individuals in the writing process. I found these speakers so interesting, in fact, that I skipped lunch in order to go to more panels. It was a good thing that went to Pappy’s Smokehouse that night, because I had worked up a decent appetite while attending panels.
Moreover, while in St. Louis, I spent a lot of time exploring the city. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Arch; I even enjoyed riding the tram up to the top of it, despite the slight feelings of claustrophobia that such a transportation system engendered in my body. I kind of felt like Zenon from that ‘90s Disney Channel movie, Zenon the Zequel. We went on a boat tour of the city that same day, too, which I found not only informative, but also incredibly relaxing. There’s something about the feeling of being on a boat that I just love. The group and I also explored the restaurant scene. Pappy’s Smokehouse, which I mentioned earlier, was a favorite. I have a huge soft spot for ribs and all things barbeque, so there may be a little bias in my last statement, but not much. Besides BBQ, St. Louis is also known for its fried ravioli and fried mushrooms. Both were quite tasty, in my opinion. To top it all off, we stayed in a really nice hotel; it provided free food at 5:30 (this was called “The 5:30 Kickback” and was basically the equivalent of a dinner), comfortable beds, and two awesome Jacuzzis.
All in all, I had a great time. In this context, I want to end this blog post by extending genuine thanks to Colby and the Farnham Writers’ Center for facilitating this amazing opportunity.