I used to be a Ukrainian exchange student…

Once upon a time there was an introvert named Turtle Sarah.  She went to school every day.  She saw the same people every day.  She was not at all into the idea of “talking” to these people (because as an introvert, talking was a very scary thing indeed) and so she just kind of lurked around them, smoked her cigarettes, laughed at their jokes, and mostly stared at them.  It was an eclectic group of people, with so many ideas, and so many thoughts, and so much originality and intelligence that Turtle Sarah didn’t think it possible for her to fit in.

One day in her fiction writing class, a portion of these students talked about their upcoming meeting for the Student Literary Arts Association.  Turtle Sarah had never been part of a club before.  Student clubs seemed like a much better idea than club sandwiches (no offense to club sandwiches, she just wasn’t that into them) and so she decided to attend.

It was snowing like crazy that day.  Turtle Sarah couldn’t figure out why in the world she had driven all the way back down to campus, but she was already there so she might as well go to this meeting thing.  They sat down in Kilcawley, all five of them, one of which she had never met before.  This SLAA mentioned the need for a secretary.  “Don’t worry,” they said.  “It’s just a signature on a paper so we’re considered a full student group.  You won’t really need to do anything.”  Turtle Sarah meekly raised her hand.

“I can do that,” she said quietly.  SLAA’s collective eyebrows rose.  Turtle Sarah had never spoken before, and they were unaware that she even could.  The next day, her name was signed on a small piece of paper noting her as Secretary of SLAA.


This fantastical account is a mostly accurate description of how I joined the SLAA.  Chris Lettera (el Presidente for all those years) told me close to the open of our first Jenny issue that he thought I was a Ukrainian exchange student and he didn’t think I spoke English.  As I pointed out to him, I’ve never stopped talking since.

And that signature on that piece of paper?  It was more than just a signature.  The group has changed and evolved and morphed.  The members have changed, the officers have changed, and we have changed.  I’m still the secretary.  I still love my position more than I can say.  It’s more than just a signature.  As my fellow officers and members can testify, I’m a bit of a mother when it comes to this group, but only because I want every member and every part of this student group to succeed.  I’ve watched four issues of Jenny come together, and four premiers, countless reading events, a benefit dedicated to our magazine, and I’ve headed three bake sales now (obvious by the previous punch and pie post, I like dealing with baked goods).

I’ve done that talking thing quite a bit here, but all I have left to say is wait until you see what we’ve got up our sleeves.

-Sarah Burnett (Turtle Sarah)  Secretary, Keeper of the Peace (and punch and pie)


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