Have you ever walked into a familiar room, only to be completely blindsided by the unexpected?
That feeling accurately sums up my experience in English 306: Professional Writing. When I will be the first to admit that when I first signed up for this course, I did not fully read the description. All I saw were the words “professional writing” and the who the professor was. I had previously taken courses with Drew Scheler and knew how his classes operated. I thought I was walking into a class that would teach me about resumes, cover letters, CVs, and letters of recommendation.
I was wrong. And I’ve never been so happy to be wrong before.
The second I walked into the classroom and Drew began introduces the course, it was as if I could feel the winds shift. I sat up straighter and listened more intently. I shifted from a student working in the theoretical field to a person in the real world needing real results.
At the start of the semester, English 306 was class partnered with the Brown County UW-Extension Community Gardens Program (BCCG) and Friends of the Community Garden (FCG) with the initial goal of raising $2,135 and assisting in their Giving Tuesday fundraiser. The Giving Tuesday fundraiser was designed to help BCCG and FCG reach the $10,000 it needs to open an endowment account with the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation—the first stage of a long-term plan designed to ensure program stability.
The first few weeks were frustrating. It was unlike any English course I have ever taken. There was a living syllabus that my peers and I need to craft, no set grading scale, and a surplus of confusion. It was difficult. We had no idea what we were doing. We asked questions and got answers, only to leave class feeling more confused than before. We would workshop previous work we’ve done in other classes and then move on without glancing back at it. Goals were set and then dismantled, including our initial fundraising goal. It was as if we put all our efforts into work that either had nothing to do with BCCG, FCG and Giving Tuesday or our efforts weren’t good enough.
My peers and I felt as if we were Sisyphus – always pushing a boulder uphill only to be sent back to the bottom to start all over again.
It wasn’t until we were separated into clearly defined teams that things seemed to be calm down. I was placed on a three person team called Vision and Editing. Halfway through the semester, this team of three became a team of two.
Vision and Editing was a challenge. A new challenge that had a dash of familiarity folded up tightly within it. The familiarity quickly reveal itself to me however. It took me two days. Two days of being part of Vision and Editing. Two days of sitting in the classroom to realize what I was actually doing.
I was not being a student. I was not writing close reading papers or memorizing facts. I was not sitting in a classroom.
I was doing something I’ve done before.
I was working.