Literary Journalism

Deep inside the Writing Center, tutors seek to improve work one word at a time

By Antaneyah Johnson

I entered the Writing Center.

There was a chalkboard that had their schedule in white colors mixed with dark blue and purple. Connected to that was the section titled “Today’s Tutors” where the names were posted below along with symbols of the cross, the Jewish symbol, and Yin and Yang.

At the desk, there was a young woman, looking earnestly at the computer. She had burgundy hair and wore black shirt and a skirt. Whether it was important documents or a homework assignment, I was not sure. She gave me a cold, piercing look and I shuttered.

“Can I help you?” She asked.

I took a deep breath and explained my situation, but I felt like I was blabbering when it came to covering the final story for class. The woman with the burgundy hair lifted her eyebrow, but she let me pass so that I could sit in the back.

There were four tables and two chairs. As I scanned the room, I watched two women sitting side by side. A laptop was placed in front of the student as they became immersed in the paper.

“And this, comma where,” the girl student said.

Meanwhile, the tutor with the burgundy hair was with a young male student. He came in not too long after I arrived, explaining to the woman with the burgundy hair that his professor

sent him for comma splices in his essay. She happily got up from the computer to help him. Now they were looking at the man’s paper. “Eighth and seventh you have to take tests,” the burgundy haired tutor said.

“Yeah, my dad told me that he had to take tests when he was young,” the male student said. “So maybe.”

Time continued on and the burgundy-haired tutor explained to him that the male student could create two sentences instead of one.

“So again, I can make two sentences?” the male student asked.

“A semi colon would replace a comma splice, so here this is a comma splice. So semicolons connect,” the burgundy tutor replied.

“So it really doesn’t matter if it’s a period or a semicolon, it connects?” the boy student said. She nodded.

As they continued their work, the piano coming from the music room began to slowly make the room vibrate. Simultaneously, the table with the second tutor and her student began to loudly chatter.

It is now 3:06 in the afternoon, and another male student entered. He clutched his laptop, bag swung over his back. He wore jeans, sneakers, a bright red/orange hat and a hoodie.

“May I help you?” the same woman with the burgundy hair asked.

The man said that this was his 3:30 and asked if he could wait here. The woman said yes, and briefly looked at me, before sitting in the third desk far away from me. Three tables filled, one to go.

At around 6 p.m. I went into the Writing Center, again. It was mostly the same, but for two new things that I noticed. On the far right, there was a microwave where the tutors could heat up their food. There was a different female student at the desk. This woman was in her early 20s and wore a pair of thin glasses and a ponytail. She also wore a light grey sweater and jeans. The second tutor was a tall male, with his dark brown hair combed to the left side of his face. Although he said hi to me, I could not help but notice the exotic tattoos that covered both of his arms. The image of a young woman wearing a wolf’s head was the most impressive out of all of them.

The female at the desk smiled warmly at me, and I explained my project again. This time, I was able to catch their names. The female tutor’s name was Christina Galdi and the male tutor’s name was Edward Probasco, but liked to be called “Eddie” for short. Gathering my things, I walked towards the table and sat down. I wanted to see what would happen for the next hour or so, due to it being both late at night and cold. However, a female student entered and after a few minutes of talking, went to one of the tables. Christina waited and followed to help her.

As the two women continued to talk before getting started, I noticed the female student taking out her work. Christina leaned closer to the student, looking at the work and made sure that she gave her all of her attention. Time passed and a male student entered. Eddie gave him a warm smile, quickly sitting up to make sure that he would get his full attention. Nonchalantly, he shrugged and went over to Eddie.

For the male student, it was about a poem that needed to be analyzed for Frank O’Hara.

“Yea maybe I should put this for there?” the male student asked. Eddie hummed.

“Um-you can do that,” Eddie said. “But, what I might think of is-this is just an example you don’t-because I think- …”

Meanwhile, Christina and the female student worked on a personal reflection paper.

“Get a higher level of education,” Christina said. “So then you can say in America-you know-because I wanted to get a higher education.”

“Doesn’t it seem that America,” the female student asked.

While trying to gather all of the information, suddenly a group of students walked past the Writing Center. Since the door remained open, the students’ voices from outside echoed throughout the room, causing a cacophony which continued until it eventually died down. After the female student left, I interviewed Christina Galdi. After she agreed, she walked back to the desk and sat on the chair, legs crossed.

“We have a Facebook page and info sessions,” Galdi explained. “Where the professors will have us come in and explain about the Writing Center. During midterms and finals, we will be in the library where we just do sessions because that’s where most of the kids will be during finals. So we do little things here and there to be like- ‘Hey we’re here guys,’ but there’s only so much we can do for people who don’t come.” Christina also explained that it was a great feeling wanting to help out students during their time of need. She believed that nobody started off as a great writer, and she wanted to do her best.

The same went for Eddie when he explained that helping students improving on their craft was the greatest feeling in the world. When he first got accepted into joining the Writing Center, he was ecstatic.

“I was super excited,” Eddie said. “I wanted to be a part of the Writing Center last year, so I really wanted to see what it was like. I remember I was working at my last job at the General Nutrition Center and I immediately told my boss ‘Well, I’m done!’” Then, he laughed.

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