Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seeking understanding

I lived for awhile as an R.A. on campus. I was a recently returned missionary from Italy who roomed with a manically depressed American from Kentucky, an excited Chinese Clarinet student who spoke broken english, and a thin, wiry Arabian who spoke no english, with the exception of "Hello," "Very good," and "Yes." We were a motley crew. Our apartment was often consumed with the vapors of various cultural foods, and though sometimes our conversations were lost in translation, we had a good time. I recall how one day my chinese roommate, in his excitement to assimilate the american culture, had bought a case of 50 corndogs and stashed it in the freezer. He ran up to me, unable to contain himself in his excitement to share this american delicacy with someone who could appreciate the finer points of american cuisine. (I have actually never been very fond of corndogs...) He opened the freezer with a flourish, and I just about fell on the floor laughing. Even though corndogs are not my favorite thing, we shared a few, and I was grateful that he had been so thoughtful of me. I believe that one of the keys to a happy and rewarding life is to follow the old adage: "Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood." This is extremely important in the writing center as well. As we seek to understand the student, we can better help them. We can empathize with them, and find the most effective way to communicate with them as well.


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