A Tale of Two Writing Centers in Namibia: Lessons for Us All
Keywords:writing center, student writing, administration
The pivotal role of writing centers in improving the quality of academic writing has been well documented by research. Although writing centers are commonplace in many countries, it appears that none existed prior to 2008 between South Africa and the Sahara. This article reports on the writer's assignment to start one in Namibia. The expectations of the challenges in this task, centering on training staff and tutors and acquiring resources, did not resemble the realities experienced, involving infrastructure, matrix management, hierarchy, and bureaucracy. Various paradigms for deconstructing these experiences, such as post-colonialism, culture clash, and ‘contact zone’ theory, all only partially explain the challenges encountered. These experiences in Namibia provide a case study of the politics of collaboration involved in implementing a writing center, and a microcosm of the challenges one might face anywhere. This account is thus 'glocal'; that is, locally derived but with global applications. Eleven specific guidelines can assist anyone contemplating a similar administrative assignment.