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Writing to Inspire People & Communities


   The AUS Writing Center’s Inkblot Journal is back for Spring 2021 with the timely theme: Writing to Inspire People and Communities!


   During this time of online learning, we asked our readers to reflect on the possibilities of writing to connect individuals and communities in a meaningful way. Students across AUS sent us diverse pieces ranging from research papers to thoughtful essays to diary entries and even poetry. 

   How can writing inspire people and the communities they operate within? In what ways has writing impacted our readers and how did the recent events prove to be an inspiration? How did writing become an essential tool in overcoming crises like the COVID-19 pandemic? Keep reading this year's issue to find out more about our students' perceptions of how writing can inspire people and communities as they explore the dynamic possibilities of the writing practice and share personal experiences to inspire others, and maybe their writing might inspire you too.

   Staying truthful to its tradition, this issue of the Inkblot Journal features reports of the Writing Center’s accomplishments during the past year and reviews of seven conducted workshops. Additionally, it spotlights the research of three students regarding the use of the writing center by STEM students, the extent to which mandatory visits enhance writing development, and the impact of the primary use of sign language on academic writing skills respectively. Lastly, the issue pays tribute to our graduating tutors who share tips, experiences, and memories from their work at the Writing Center, while others recommend this year's most impactful reads. 

   We hope that you find this year's issue as encouraging, fascinating, and inspiring as we did. Make sure to also check out the Writing Contest 2021 winners!

Happy reading!

Konstantina Spyropoulou

On behalf of the Spring 2021 Inkblot team


Our Writing Center: Spring 2021

Student Research Articles

Graduating Tutors-Spring 2021 

"The Writing Center was my second home at AUS. If I could go back, I would definitely steal the heart-shaped hug pillow (would definitely wash it first, as it has been there for years and has seen a lot). My proudest moment was definitely when, in my first semester of tutoring, a tutee came up to me after a class and asked if she could give me a hug; she had received an A on the paper I had helped her with and she was very happy-- I was even happier. I’m really going to miss the Writing Center and I wish I could have said a proper goodbye to all of my tutees, of which some are more like friends. As for the tutors who have become more like family and provided me with constant support -- I wish you the very best in life! The Writing Center really houses gems of people and the opportunity to meet all of you will be one I am forever grateful for."

-Tamanna Taher, Psychology

"For the past two and a half years the Writing Center has been a place of interchange of ideas, experiences, and encouragement for me. Despite a tight and busy schedule, tutoring was something I daily looked forward to, and seeing the relief and smile on the students’ faces at the end of the session was the most rewarding part of the day. One special session from my first semester of tutoring has stayed with me ever since, when a student thanked me for helping her attain a positive view of what used to be an intimidating writing process. Expressions of gratitude and appreciation such as this make me view my service at the Writing Center as a great privilege and I am thankful for the life lessons it has taught me and for all the fun preserved in my memory. My advice to current and future tutors would be to view every session as time well spent, and as an opportunity to grow as people. My warmest wishes to all tutors for an amazing and unforgettable time at the Writing Center!"

-Konstantina Spyropoulou, English Literature

"I always knew I was passionate about writing, but I never expected to be able to share my love of writing in the form of improving other students’ writing skills. When I was offered to take WRI221, I had no idea how rewarding the experience of being a tutor would be. Now, I look back at the countless hours of tutoring and the many students I’ve been able to help and I am grateful. I am grateful for the fact that I got to take away a student’s stress, put a smile on their faces, make them laugh, and help them be better writers. I am grateful to be called a “lifesaver” and to be deemed as “super helpful”. These experiences make up my proudest moments as a tutor. Having students come in with C’s and D’s on their paper and receiving emails from them a few days later saying that they got A’s always made me proud and so happy to do my job. Being a tutor taught me that patience, perseverance, and practice lead to success. I hope that I was able to impact the experiences of tutees and make them believe that they are capable of success, regardless of the journey."

-Aisha Almaazmi, Accounting

"For the past two years, the Writing Center has been a place of growth, friendship, and improvement for me. The friends I found in my wonderful colleagues, the interaction with the tutees, and all our everyday moments are all very precious to me. I am truly grateful that I could help students lower their stress, find a way to enjoy their writing, and help them improve and be better writers. The Writing Center not only allowed me to help my tutees but made me a better writer too. One of my favorite memories at the Writing Center was when one of my regular tutees told me that she absolutely loved how I explained things and so she looked forward to booking sessions with me. She was happy about the grades she received with my help and I was even happier for her success. I am really going to miss the Writing Center and the amazing tutors and tutees I have worked with. To all my wonderful colleagues, I wish you all the very best in life! Thanks to everyone for making my journey with the Writing Center an amazing experience. To our amazing director, Dr. Maria, thank you for your vision and guidance in making the Writing Center a positive, happy, cooperative space."

-Tanjuma Islam, MATESOL

"The Writing Center will always be one of my favorite places on campus as it always seemed to gather everyone around. I am truly sad that I never got to appreciate every little thing before we moved to online tutoring. If I could go back, I would probably say goodbye to all the tutors who had to put up with my morning rants. I would also take one of those comfortable couches with me (given they come with the pillows). I don’t think there is anything I will not miss because even with the minor downsides of the Writing Center, I would still go back. I felt very proud of myself over the years, especially when tutees would come back and tell me about their grades. My favorite memories are those when I connected with tutees beyond what the session entailed. I remember one tutee being very thrilled about the session that she ended up transferring to my major. I will always cherish these moments, no matter how fleeting!"

-Shamma Alkhoori, English Literature Major, Psychology Minor

"I think the best choice I made at AUS was to become a Writing Center tutor. I have built strong connections and friendships that I value greatly. Having worked as a tutor for about two years and a half I learned so much about writing and research. I learned these new skills not just from my colleagues but also from the students that I would tutor. Learning new skills and effectively maintaining them was my favorite tutoring experience because I knew that both the tutee and I were learning from and impacting each other positively. Because this is my favorite experience, I have to say that the thing that I’d say goodbye to would be the one table that I, for some reason, always tutored near the computers. The computers, however, are a completely different story. The time they took to load is something I certainly will not miss. By the time they were ready to be used my session would have already finished."

-Renad Hamouda, English Literature Major, Business Administration Minor

"I'm grateful to have a lot of wonderful memories from the Writing Center, both in-person and online. My favorite part about the experience was meeting so many awesome people. Through working at the WC, I've been able to make long-lasting friendships with people whom I would never have met otherwise! To my recurring tutees (you know who you are!), you've made me so proud, and I hope you continue to shine! To my tutor buddies, thank you for listening to my endless rants and for all the fun memories we shared! And finally, to the tutors who aren't graduating just yet, keep killing it out there! Our job isn't always sunshine and rainbows, but when you reflect on how many people you've helped, it’s truly worth it!"

-Inaara Thawer, Architecture Major, English Language Minor

"My experience at the Writing Center extends beyond tutoring. I met my closest friends at the Writing Center and shared so many wonderful moments with them in that space. I am going to miss interacting with my tutees, especially the regular ones. Nothing makes me prouder than hearing a tutee say I’ve helped them with their work. My memories at the Writing Center —the game nights, the late-night study sessions, the surprise birthday parties, and the routine everyday occurrences—are all very, very precious to me."

-Zahraa Al-Dawood, Civil Engineering

"In all candor, I was quite apprehensive when I first started tutoring at the Writing Center. Being a STEM major, I never thought I would fit in. But working with my tutees and engaging in conversations with my colleagues at the Writing Center only reinforced the idea that writing is both a discipline and a literary form that anyone can embrace. Seeing the astonished faces of many of my tutees, and even fellow STEM students when I would reveal my major, receiving sweet thank you emails from tutees whom I tutored weeks and sometimes semesters prior was an encouragement for me to be diligent and to work sincerely throughout my journey as a tutor. If I could go back to the Writing Center, I would say a proper goodbye to my colleagues and would take one of the original physical post-client report forms as a keepsake. I will not miss those computers that took forever to boot up though. To new tutors, my advice would be to take on any struggle you face as a tutor in your stride, to know that you are valuable members of the student community at AUS and that you have a great support system to fall back on, in case you need any help. If there is anything the pandemic has shown us, it is that the Writing Center is not just a room in the library. It is the people of the Writing Center that make it what it is; a place to engage in real dialogue and have critical conversations with your peers at university. So thank you to everyone who made the Writing Center a worthwhile experience. Au revoir dear friends! Till we meet again."

-Rebecca R. John, Mathematics


Set after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Frankenstein in Baghdad captures the ordinary yet not so ordinary life in rapidly-changing Baghdad. The novel illustrates the complexity of life for a citizen in Iraq, highlights the atrocities of war and sectarianism, and questions our sense of bias and morality. Frankenstein in Baghdad is a novel relevant for everyone irrespective of their nationality.

Zahraa Al-Dawood


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is unique in the sense that it is unlike any other Brontë novel. Telling the story of Helen Huntingdon who leaves her abusive husband and starts a life of her own as a working woman supporting her son through her art, the novel is quite unconventional. It sheds light on women’s struggles at a time when such issues were obscured and dispels the myth of Anne being the lesser competent Brontë sister. On the contrary, it establishes Anne Brontë as a pioneering author of her time, writing a kind of realistic fiction that would emerge only 50 years later. If you think you have read enough about the Brontës you should think again, and give a chance to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall to surprise you.

Konstantina Spyropoulou

The Kite Runner is a book that is equally heartfelt and heart-wrenching. It shows the wide spectrum of human emotions, feelings, and reactions while facing the harsh realities of brotherhood, separation, and moving on. Truly a beautiful read!

Aisha Almaazmi


All three books in The Poppy War Trilogy are astounding. Reading them taught me the impact of resilience and that we need to make mistakes in order to grow and evolve. It also taught me that we can learn from every person and situation.

Gowri Prasad

The Woman in the Window is a psychological suspense thriller centered around Anna Fox, a child psychologist diagnosed with agoraphobia. Chained by this fear of open spaces, Fox spends her day at home, mostly looking out her window. When new neighbors move into the house opposite to hers, Fox catches a glimpse of something through her window she should not have seen and is caught in a trap of dilemmas and ultimatums. Challenging her fears, her beliefs, and her perspectives, the events unfolding dramatically test and change Fox’s character as she ventures into a world that is not all it appears to be. The book is neatly deceptive, captivatingly twisted, and ultimately daring. A. J. Finn skillfully weaves every detail into a greater piece of art, continuously pulling the rug from under the reader’s feet with shocking truths, horrid lies, and dreadful delusions. Overall, the book does provide the reader with the perspective to look at Fox’s life from the outside looking in, but it also allows the reader to empathetically and emphatically feel Anna’s neurotic emotions, think Anna’s ruminative thoughts, and live Anna’s puzzling life throughout its chapters.

Alaa Itani


How to Win Friends and Influence People will forever and always be regarded as an all-time classic, and rightly so. Amassing over 15 million purchases ever since its release in 1936, this book is a timeless bestseller that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. Truth be told, I really do wish I had read this book sooner, considering how insightful, life-changing, and thought-provoking it is. Thanks to this book, I've now transformed from a socially awkward, timid, and defensive person to someone who is collected, calm, and confident. If you're having troubles in life and simply can't figure out what you're doing wrong, this is a fantastic place to start.

Karim Abdelwahed

Word Power Made Easy is easily one of the best vocabulary books published to date. Written by Norman Lewis, this book makes use of a completely unique and eccentric way to teach vocabulary words. By etymologically deriving the Greek/Latin root of a specific word, and then shedding light on other words that stem from that same root, the book truly unleashes word power. It also features several ‘brief intermissions’ that examine the progression of grammar over the years and the evolution of the modern-day English language. Are you interested in knowing what words like psychosomatic, incorrigible, anachronistic, disheveled, inveterate, pathological, sphygmomanometer, unconscionable, stoical, intrepid, hypochondriac, reticent, gregarious, altruistic, multitudinous and others mean? If yes, then please do give this book a read! In my opinion, this is the best vocabulary book there is.

Karim Abdelwahed


Meet The Team: Spring 2021


Konstantina Spyropoulou

Executive Editor & Designer


Aisha Almaazmi


Laila Mostafa


WhatsApp Image 2021-06-07 at

Zahraa Al-Dawood


Renad Hamouda



Alaa Itani


Maria Eleftheriou

Faculty Adviser

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