Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A homecoming

By Tonya Riley (Brown University '15/ SJP '10)

Alumni counselors give a pep talk
“(since it will be a while before I get a six-figure book deal, I'm dropping a hint that you should totally invite me back as a counselor after I start college...)" 
This statement, which I tacked on the end of my long thank-you letter to the directors after my time as a student at SJP in 2010, turned out to be true on both accounts. Unfortunately being a student and an intern is the antithesis to the life of a lucrative writer. Fortunately, however, I was asked to return as a counselor. It's hard to believe that it has only been two years since I was sitting in Friend Center, being initiated into the world of ideas.

Compared to the alumni of the program who are now seasoned counselors, I feel just as inexperienced teaching workshops as I did sitting in them. I sometimes find myself almost raising my hand at questions like “What is journalism?” but then remember that I am no longer a student (only in the context of this program, of course). I realize now is my time to sit back and let my curiosity and ideas guide and coax our new students into expressing their own.

In some ways it's hard to imagine being as young as the students, to remember how differently I viewed myself and the world before SJP. (Having read my application last night, I can say that I apparently thought “breathless tears” was good writing once upon a time – yikes.)

Nostalgic conversations with the six fellow counselors who attended the program my year has helped jog my memory of my incredible ten days at SJP when I was seventeen. Waxing poetics aside, the camaraderie I have shared with these people since the 2010 program has sustained long past the final banquet and is now furthered by our hopes and worries as freshly-dubbed mentors. Whether it is the collective memory of meaningful workshops during our year or laughing over inside jokes (of which there are plenty), this nostalgia drives me to make sure this year's students get the most out of their experience. And it's the chance to be a mentor that brought me back this summer.

Students on the last night SJP 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment