As mentioned in previous posts (like this one, and also this), I work as a tutor in the Intergenerational Literacy Program, a family literacy program for immigrant adults. Despite giving up the chance to sleep in on two days of the week, I look forward to my mornings of working in this program. Somehow I always manage to leave my stress and concerns at the door when I step into the classroom, and spend the next two hours smiling, laughing, and teasing my learners during our lessons.
Working in this program has always been one of my biggest stress-relievers. It helped me get through the stress of a friend being in the hospital my sophomore year of college as well as a difficult emotional and mental health phase I went through earlier this semester. My tutoring job worked its de-stressing magic earlier this week.
When I came into work on Wednesday, my mind was bogged down by a large assignment I had procrastinated and was concerned about finishing before I left for the weekend to New York. I was spending any free time I had, including the 20 minute van drive to Chelsea, to cram in whatever work I could get done for it. With this assignment weighing me down, I was amused to look at the whiteboard to review the day’s lesson and find that the vocabulary word for the week was “relax.” The word was chosen to go along with the week’s Health theme, and coincidentally it was relevant to the other tutors and me as we are wrapping up the semester.
I followed the accidental advice on the board in that within 20 minutes of being in the classroom, I had forgotten about my assignment and was engaged in entertaining my learners as we went through our lesson. I was pleased that my work had once again managed to take my mind off of my stress and to enjoy myself for a little bit.
I have a poor habit of completing assignments late or leaving edits to the morning. This usually means I have to get to campus earlier to have time to print. On most days I keave my apartment late and have to hop on a bus to get to the library on time.
This week I was stressed in printing an assignment on time given the awful New England downpour we had. When I stepped out into the rain, I groaned knowing that the buses would be packed and I wouldn’t have a chance to get on one. As I approached the bus stop, I was discouraged when I saw a bus just leaving. However, as I rounded the corner I found two other buses waiting. I managed to get one that I discovered was minimally crowded. I was so happy that taking public transportation had worked out for me after all.
I met with one of the graduate clinical faculty to discuss how to prepare for transitioning to a new supervisor in my school placement and for some personal advice. As in the phonology lab I participated in this semester, she provided helpful and valuable insight and advice. I had come into the meeting a little nervous because I wanted to discuss how to problem-solve in managing my anxiety for next semester. Her calm demeanor and manner of delivering her messages made me feel comfortable in trusting and discussing the issue with her. She sympathized with me, supported me in my decision for how I wanted to lighten my load next semester, and provided advice for how to handle stress.
Throughout my academic career, people have emphasized the importance of finding a mentor. This semester I started realizing the importance of having someone to turn to for professional advice and wanted to set out to find someone. At first the task seemed daunting, since I wasn’t close to any professors and am not one to pop into office hours. I had not interacted with the faculty member I spoke to today during previous semesters, but I got a good impression of her when she supervised one of my sessions earlier this semester and offered to sit down with me to share constructive advice about my performance. The fact that she was willing to talk with me today and that she offered support and asked me to keep her updated with how I was doing made me realize that I had found someone to be my mentor.
The phrase above is often used at my work as a tutor with ELL students, but I’ve found that it is also applicable to graduate school. The saying proved true today when one professor provided a later deadline for an upcoming paper and another offered an alternate date for the course final. I was personally thrilled for the changes because it freed up my weekend to watch a friend complete her black belt test. If only I can keep myself from procrastinating my work given the new dates!
I get easily distracted when completing homework. One strategy that I’ve been using to increase productivity is to take active breaks. For my break today, I decided to return to an old hobby: making friendship bracelets. I learned how to make the bracelets during a summer in Costa Rica when thr volunteer I was paired up with taught the kids in our community how to make them. At the time it had been a great bonding activity with the community members. Five years later, its serving me well as a mental break.
I popped into the campus Catholic Center to meet up with one of the the FOCUS missionaries who joined the team this year. I ended up spending part of the afternoon in her company while she baked for her Bible study. I also had the opportunity to catch yp with another friend who decided to join us. It was refreshing to spend time with a couple of good women outside of the graduate student circle. We teased the FOCUS missionary of her habit of reflexively offering comments, and I got a good heart-to-heart with my other friend. After a stressful week, it was pleasant to connect with two women I’ve been wanting to get to know better.