Almost anything can be grouped, but today, I’m focusing on groups of people. People who come together for certain purposes or certain activities. For the purpose of this post, the group I’m referring to is a writing group that meets on many Tuesday evenings. It started as an experiment this past November. Most Tuesday evenings involve a group meeting at a nearby coffee shop. In fact, we are meeting tonight, which is why I selected groups for the letter G.
This writing group started in November 2013 as an experiment that would allow students who were interested in English writing to have a place to practice and to explore the kind of writing activities that we don’t have time for in class. Initially, I invited a few students from each of my classes–students who seemed to actually want to write, rather than just get through my class because it is required for their major. Several students came to the first few sessions as we tried to work out venues and schedules. A core group soon developed, and when the semester ended in mid-January, we had several students who were committed to continuing. In fact, before the semester ended, a few students had filled out the paperwork to make the English Writing Group an official club of our University.
Interest has grown and we now have as many as 15 or more people who come on our regular evenings. We also have a permanent venue–a coffee shop that opened only a few months ago. The proprietor of the shop, Jessica, even joins us for the writing activities. And she gives us a discount on our drinks. I will show you more of the coffee shop in a few days, but for now, here is a picture of our group working on a free-writing activity.
The whole shop is reconfigured for our Tuesday night group meetings. However, with the new people who have joined in the last two weeks, we are now running the risk of not having enough chairs for everyone. I have to admit, I initially panicked tonight when someone brought a guest who wanted to check out the group. (By the end of the evening, she had decided to join us on for the semester.)
When I first approached a few students about such an activity, I never dreamed it would grow to this extent. I am so grateful to this group of young people who gave me an opportunity to teach that goes beyond the classroom. To have this many people coming voluntarily to practice their English writing gives me a real boost. An added bonus is that everyone is also practicing their conversation as well. Being with this group is one of those times, when I almost forget I am in a foreign country. I don’t often feel too out of place, but on Tuesday nights, it’s almost like being home.