Writing for Social Change has been my all-time favorite class. As the end draws closer, I am starting to become very sad because I have learned so much, and I do not want to stop that expansion of knowledge. However, I know that there is always much to learn outside of the classroom; I just have to own up to the challenge of seeking the information for myself. I would say that this class has helped me become a better writer because it has shown me the empowering side to writing and reading. Before, all I had known of these skills had been associated with feeling like my creative spirits were trapped in a box. Through this class, I was told to experiment outside of my comfort zone because if I did not, I would never learn anything from the experience. If I were not empowered to follow my own writing dynamic, I probably would still be a very stagnant writer.
Visiting my first blog posts from earlier on in the semester brings me back to moments of pure excitement. For the first time in my life, I had felt genuinely excited to put words down on paper – or in this case, a computer screen. I always thought very deeply about what I would write down because I wanted my best work to public. That being said, I do not think I would change the content with which I answered the blog prompts assigned to me through this class. That may come across as if I think my writing was perfect, but that is not true. I always included many different perspectives in my blog posts, especially the ones in which I talked about my role in my local DC organization, the LAYC. Regarding the intellectual content of the class, I am in the same headspace that I was many weeks ago, but I have improved my understanding and employment of the rhetoric. If I were to change anything, I think it would be to become even more transparent to my audience. Throughout the duration of the class, I was paranoid that I might have been too blunt at certain points, but I realize now that that pure honesty is something valuable. Now that I have improved my rhetoric, I could continue to be honest, but still keep it classy and tactful.
Visiting my blogs from when I first wrote about my involvement at the LAYC, I see my spirit start out as a flame, then later get put out and smashed to ashes. Honestly, volunteering at the LAYC was more stressful than it was helpful I think. Most people might take this as I was annoyed to travel there – which I was not. I was just stressful because it led me to question everything. I guess I could retract my statement of this experience not being helpful, as we can learn something from everything. This experience forced me to confront my role in perpetuating the White Savior Complex. Although this may have put a lot of worry into my daily life, I have to take it upon myself to make sure that I continue to educate myself and others about the potential negative consequences of something like this occurring. I can not be too caught up on feeling guilty; I have to recognize what is happening and do something to change it. In addition, considering I am not from the racially marginalized community, this stress is nothing I should complain about.
Concerning my research process, I look back and think to myself, “Wow you had such great ideas, Erin, but you could have done so much better.” One thing that I know about myself is that I am terrible at managing my time. This is something I have to consciously remind myself of to improve, but, combined with the research project in this class, it gave me insight into how procrastination can debilitate the research and writing process. I also noticed that I changed my question a lot, so over the summer, I want to initiate my own research project to retouch on the question I initially wanted to research. If I start disciplining myself this summer, I know that my writing abilities and time management will only improve as well. Once again, it simply comes down to accountability of self.
What stands out about this Writing for Social Change class to me the most is the way we structured our research. We used “Frameworks” and “Objects of Study”, which if I were to use those two terms in daily life, I do not know how many people would actually understand the meaning. I have to admit, these terms left me confused for most of the semester until the day I turned in my research paper. In that moment, I actually started to get a hang of how to employ each (I might not have done it right, but I still felt like I did). This strategy was helpful to me because it was an “outside-of-the-box” technique. Another thing I had to accustom myself to was the fact that I was adding to an educational conversation, not arguing my opinion. At first I thought this was stupid because I am only 19 years old…how would I gather my own stance in a world where many other scholars already elaborated on what I wanted to say? I realized that I could add my own flare by talking about the LAYC because I had not come across research from the LAYC concerning “diversity” rhetoric, and now I am much more confident in my researching skills and my ability to formulate an informative document.
For my final project, the Public Writing Portfolio, I want to elaborate on my concern about perpetuating the White Savior Complex. I feel that in pursuit of a Revolution, and in order to uphold solidarity, this must be addressed. The white community will only stall the Revolution if it feeds into this notion. I want to start a dialogue about this notion in a letter to the Nashman Center for Civic Engagement so that they are aware that this is happening. I am not going to attack them, I just want to work on finding a solution to this detriment. I would be more than happy to work with the people there on this issue. Furthermore, I really want to present at the UWP Writing and Research Conference. I know my essay might not have been the perfect essay, but I know that what I have to say brings to light a new stance and will facilitate a necessary discussion about diversity on GWU’s campus. Also, if I presented, other students would be able to ask me questions, which would help me to delve further into research and to continue challenging my way of thinking. Overall, my mission would be to connect my research to my role at the LAYC throughout the semester.
I imagine myself having to create and revise a shorter paper accompanied by a powerpoint, but I want to also include my personal experience at the LAYC. As of right now, I just want to know how I would be able to present at the next UWP Writing and Research Conference. I was so inspired by the presentations I saw when I attended, and I honestly want to pass that inspiration along to at least one other student, who could eventually pass it on to more students.