Alex Georgiadis reflects on two years of working with BINcA students at the WriteBoston Writing Center

alex with student in the writing center

As Writing Center Coordinator, Alex Georgiadis (above, left) has ensured that things run smoothly at the WriteBoston Writing Center, located prominently on the first floor of Boston International Newcomers Academy (BINcA). From recruiting and training tutors, to coordinating in-class tutoring with teachers, to meeting one-on-one with students, Alex wears many hats to ensure that each BINcA student has access to writing support when they need it.

Alex’s work helps students build critical writing, reading, and speaking skills; but more importantly, it gives young people the opportunity to build confidence and practice self-expression. Each student that passes through the writing center has an important story and a unique voice–that’s what makes Alex’s job both challenging and rewarding. Alex and her tutors have done a tremendous job of encouraging and supporting students as they hone their ideas and share authentic experiences through writing. This academic year, the Writing Center provided 3,051 tutorials to students.

As the school year comes to a close and Alex finalizes plans for graduate school, she’s reflecting on her time with WriteBoston. And though she’s passionate about the craft of writing, the most important thing she’s leaving with is a profound respect and admiration for the students she met at BINcA.

alex georgiadis headshot

“It’s all about the students.”

As the school year winds down and students start to wistfully gaze out of classroom windows, I’ve had some time to reflect on my experience as the Writing Center Coordinator at Boston International Newcomers Academy, fondly known as BINcA. BINcA is an all-immigrant public high school that welcomes students and their families from all corners of the world. What’s unique about this school is undoubtedly the people–the students, the tutors, and the staff–who go above and beyond to make the school a second home.

The Writing Center is made up of 16 volunteer tutors who support students on writing assignments and go into classrooms to provide larger group support. Teachers sign up ahead of time to request support, and students can also drop in during class, lunch, or after school.

I’m grateful for the enthusiasm and openness tutors show up with every week, and for the diversity of experiences they bring. From veteran journalists to Social Work major undergrads, each tutor has something different to offer and has contributed so much to our Writing Center community.

Tutors have to be ready to wear many hats. On any given day, they could start out in a SLIFE Newcomer classroom matching animal vocabulary, and end their day with a drop-in from a 12th grader in Environmental Science researching plastic pollution in our oceans. One week, a tutor might work with a group of 9th graders in U.S. History as they write speeches from the perspective of Native people, and the following week they might rehearse plays on ethical dilemmas with a group of 11th graders. Working in the Writing Center means there’s something new every day!

So, when people ask me: “What’s the best part of your job?” I tell them that it’s all about the students. In short, BINcA students are deeply kind, open, and resilient young people. I’ve met students who’ve fled gang violence in Central America, political conflict in Somalia, religious persecution in Myanmar, and countless other harrowing situations. They have every reason to be mad about the cards they’ve been dealt, and yet they show up to school every day grateful to be here and ready to seize the opportunities that they now have in front of them. These students have brave stories to tell, and part of the Writing Center’s work has been to help them realize that they have stories that are worthy of telling.

Beyond these kids’ incredible journeys, I’m impressed by the genuine compassion BINcA students have for the world around them. The speech competition was surely a highlight during my time at BINcA. Students gave speeches about societal problems and their proposed solutions, and I worked with one student, Hoda, from start to finish.

Hoda, Boston International high school student
Hoda, 11th grade BINcA student, at WriteBoston’s annual fundraiser, Pros&Conversation

Hoda chose the topic of hate crimes against Muslims, carefully researched current statistics and the role of social media in perpetuating hateful rhetoric, and crafted an impassioned, personal, and thoughtful speech that she presented to classmates and the community. She wrote:

Imagine if you were a Muslim living in America when 9/11 happened. I was only one year old when 9/11 happened, but still today, it affects me and my family. The reality is that being a Muslim woman in America is very distressing. People judge you before they meet you becase you wear a hijab, and sometimes they think that makes you a horrible person…Future generations will look back on this moment in history and wonder how people lived in such a hateful society. Today, we must use our voices to advocate for peace.

Hoda, 11th Grade Student at BINcA

I was honored to play a role in supporting Hoda to find her voice and share her important perspective. BINcA embodies the educational ideal of putting learning into action; teachers arm students with the right tools and a sense of agency so that they feel empowered to face the problems of our next generation.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I’m going to miss this school a lot. I’m beyond grateful to have met these very special students at such a critical point in their lives, and if the Writing Center played even the tiniest role in making their transition a little lighter—by helping them learn how to express themselves through writing, encouraging their confidence in speaking English, or even just being a safe haven for 20 minutes during lunch where they can grab a snack and crash in a plush chair in the corner—then I will feel like I’ve done my job.