I think I’m in the right place.
I look around the large, lively hall, searching for a recognizable face. Though I see a few, there are no empty seats near them, so I take a seat in the nearest available chair. A few minutes later we’re welcomed to the second day of Peer Training and we proceed to go around the room introducing ourselves. Midway through the day, after various activities, a thought occurs to me: this might be the nicest room I’ve ever been in, and it wasn’t because of the large windows that ushered in the iridescent sunlight or the soothing smell of the surprisingly-good food.
I volunteered to be a Learning & Writing Peer because I wanted to work with writing, something I truly love, and because I felt like I had something to offer. I would have been very happy with these two aspects, but I got more than that, such as the good-looking bullet point that’s now under the “experiences” portion of my résumé, and the CRLA certification for accumulating a certain amount of hours.
None of that really compares to the people I’ve met. Some of them aren’t at the Student Learning Commons (SLC) anymore, some are. Some I talk to fairly often, some only on Tuesdays when we have our meetings. All of them, however, are approachable and genuinely nice, and we are all bound together by an invisible thread: a thread that isn’t just the school we all go to, or the corner of the library we volunteer out of, but the fact that we’re all just good people who enjoy being around other good people.
When asked what she’s enjoyed about being here, Jennifer, who’s in her first semester with us, mentions something I know many of the L&W Peers agree with: the supportive interactions between us. Adds Danika, who’s been here for as long as I have (five semesters), “We’re all in different stages of our education; we help each other out; we can go to each other for advice.” Jennifer also mentions being able to interact with students from different disciplines, and this extends to the Peers, too, as we’re a mixed bag of students, with backgrounds in Business and Biology, Criminology and Communications, English and Engineering.
“We’re like a crew”, Danika says, “The SLC crew.” I ask another peer, Jiwon, about it, and she happens to use the same words: “We’re the SLC crew!” Every crew must have a hangout spot. Danika knows this. “The common room is our hangout”, she says.
The common room she’s referring to is actually two adjoined rooms, the first of which is visible from the four single sofas in the waiting area of the SLC. There’s a door wearing a “Staff Only” name tag, a door that is always open. In this room sits three computers, two circular tables, a large printer (free to use), a handful of chairs (some of which even swivel), a whiteboard to doodle on, a recently-installed set of cabinets that house some tea and snacks, as well as a microwave and large fridge, all of which we’re welcome to use. There are also two couches and two more computers in the adjoining room.
Did I mention that it’s quiet? I like that. It can also get pretty lively, though. I like that, too.
It’s a regular afternoon at the SLC and I’m sitting in the common room working on some writing. I hear bursts of laughter sprinkled in between lively conversation coming from the other room, and I’m reminded of another moment from that day in the nice room. At that point of the day I had only talked to those close-by, yet everyone in the room collectively spoke to me. Everyone seemed like genuinely good people who were genuinely happy to take time out of their weekend to come together for the greater purpose of helping others. I could hear it. I could see it. And in that moment, I remember thinking to myself: “I think I’m in the right place.”