The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; the
meaning of life is to give your gift away.
—David Viscott, Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times, 1993
One’s identity formation process as a learning advisor is inevitably determined or
molded by her or his personality features that stand out. It is often these prominent
characteristics that dominate her or his understanding of and attitude towards the science and
practice of language advising although it is very likely that the formal advisor training
content often helps surface relatively dormant qualities as well. In this respect, the focus in
this visual message board is how nineteen learning advisors from Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt
University School of Foreign Languages (AYBU-SFL) and one from the Middle East
Technical University School of Foreign Languages (METU-SFL) define their advisor selves
with reference to their most prominent characteristics as reflected in their end-of-the-course
thank you and appreciation cards designed by their trainers.
This idea of giving cards each displaying an outstanding feature of individual trainees
upon the completion of advising training was first started by Satoko Kato and Jo Mynard
during their training at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) with the first group
of learning advisor candidates from AYBU-SFL and METU-SFL in 2017. It was made into a
tradition in the following year by the novice trainers Gamze Güven-Yalçın and Stephanie Lea
Howard during their advisor education program in Turkey with a new group of learning
advisor candidates from the same university. In the original KUIS version, each card
contained the Japanese character that corresponded to the specific quality each advisee
displayed as observed by the trainers during their intensive training program over a period of
one week. In the AYBU-SFL version, building on this creative idea but introducing a new
perspective, specific trainee qualities were presented in caterpillar frames representing the
transformation taking place, from caterpillars to butterflies.
In what follows, individual advisors reflect on their advisor selves with reference to
the features expressed in their cards, adopting a descriptive and/or explanatory style. Figure 1
below is a butterfly displaying a collection of individual advisors’/caterpillars’ outstanding
qualities as expressed in descriptive words.
Figure 1. Butterfly Word Cloud Showing the Descriptive Words for the Advisors
As such, it is a privilege to be in a position to write an introduction to these
beautifully crafted cards describing twenty learning advisors' most outstanding qualities that
blend smoothly with their identities as advisors. And it is again an honor to present all these
accompanying reflective pieces in varying genres written by the learning advisors themselves
to celebrate this moment of unification with their advisor selves. Obviously, the contributors
here gathered around this advising candle for no random reason: Are they here to discover
their gifts? Or they have already uncovered their gifts but looking for ways to develop them
or give them away to attain the meaning of their lives? Each card and accompanying caption
reveals a glimpse of an advisor’s, and indeed a person’s, identity.