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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


After months of planning, the Communication Skills Program hosted an all-day symposium for all of our writing teachers at AUB. I enjoyed helping the program director and a couple other faculty members here put this symposium together. The preparation was as rewarding as the actual event, in fact, as it was an opportunity to get to know my "temporary colleagues" in Lebanon. We had a session on the history of the program, reviewed some best practices at a handful of other programs, and took time to brainstorm what the dream program would look like. The history session was probably the most interesting part from my perspective: during its long history, the language instruction at AUB has changed several times (Arabic! Turkish! English!) and unstable periods like the Civil War years made staffing difficult (understatement). Last week, in preparation for the symposium, the planning team and I had the pleasure of interviewing an historian who took first-year English at AUB in 1945, co-founded the student newspaper, and after grad school in Europe returned to AUB where he had a distinguished career. Well into his 80s, he still lives in the Hamra neighborhood. Needless to say, his insights were invaluable. I did a solo workshop a few months back for the program but collaborative events are almost always more interesting. The schoolyear's starting to wind down (two more weeks of regular classes, which I hear might be partially interrupted by a transportation strike) so today kind of felt like a final fling with the program. Bittersweet.

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