Laura F: Being a LLUF is, without a doubt, the greatest job on campus — maybe even the greatest job in the world. It’s kind of hard to put into words what it means to be a LLUF — what it is, what we do, what is happening in the magical space known as the studio — but I think the manifesto really gave me a concise way to describe it next time somebody asks, “what do you do at the Learning Lab?” We learn how to learn.
Sarah D: It has challenged me to think about what I want to learn, how I learn, and how I teach others. It has encouraged me to think outside of the box and explore new and weird things, sometimes in unconventional ways.
Kylie S: The learning at the Learning Lab is different from the learning I do in class because it feels much more creative and almost more exciting because I get to learn something and immediately apply it and create something that I can see. That has really been a lifeline during this time for me.
Abby M: I think one of the things that’s most incredible about the Learning Lab and that I’ve really been learning about myself as I’ve been working is this idea that you can learn just for learning’s sake, and the whole multitudes of joy that that entails. This idea that at the Learning Lab, you’re encouraged to learn things that are interesting, to learn things that are hard, to learn things that you never imagined that you would learn, and you’re encouraged to learn them in new, exciting, and sometimes terrifying ways
Sarah D: It also has taught me, and really ingrained in me, that an education is more than just knowledge, it is experience.
Elmer V: To me, learning has always been tied to my identity. Growing up, my parents always reminded me of the fact that they weren’t able to complete schooling. They wanted me, and later on my brother, to take advantage of all the opportunities that we’ve had at our disposal. For so long, I did that. I internalized a lot of that and used it as a source of motivation to try to improve and achieve, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that education and learning could be so much more
Laura F: And that is meta, and also just so cool that we get to help create pedagogy and new ways to be in a classroom space that maybe haven’t been thought of before, and are especially useful for students who maybe need different learning than the traditional classroom setting. That’s really cool and exciting! Especially for someone like me who is so interested in education.
Sophie B: You can learn almost as much from teaching as you can from actually attending a workshop or attending a class. I never would have thought that the most I would learn in terms of how to code, for example, would come from the time I spent making tutorials, teaching other beginner coders how to pick up their own skills. That has been such an important lesson! One that I am so grateful for and one that I very much credit the learning lab with teaching me.
Emmy S: I’ve always thought this and it’s the reason I want to teach and the reason why I love the Learning Lab and helping teachers is that I think learning is… my life goal is just to be learning all the time and I think it gives my life purpose. I think that it’s because, at the end of the day, when my life ends, not to get super grim but, when my life ends I’m going to look back and think about if I learned every single day and if I knew all these things at the end of the day, then I would know I lived a really really happy life.
Elmer V: I also found a lot of power in trying to pass on knowledge to others, and so, working at the Learning Lab has been an opportunity to fulfill so many of those goals. Every day, we have the opportunity to work on resources for our peers, for faculty, and really improve the learning experience for everyone.
Kathryn W: I had no idea that this was part of the work that they did, so I was just blown away by the amount of tutorials being produced, and also just by the quality of the content that I was testing. It was all really cool, unique, innovative ways to think about teaching. That was a new concept and a new topic of thinking about how I would want to learn ideally. It was something that I didn’t spend that much time thinking about but now after a year of being constantly at the forefront of everything that the Bok community does… I think that has overall enhanced just so much of my academic experience. Honestly, I think that it made me a more creative person.
Julie T: One quote that I wanted to share, that has to do with learning, is by Helen Hayes. It basically says, “The expert in anything, was once a beginner.” I really appreciate that quote just because you’ll see people who are master coders, who are amazing musicians or whatever it is, and you look at them and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, I could never’ or ‘I wish I could.’ It’s hard to realize, and I try to realize, that everyone does have to start somewhere.
Emmy S: The Learning Lab has given me this platform to be a beginner and to learn these things. You don’t have to be a certain type of person to know these things and to learn about them and to care about them. I genuinely did [care about them], and I still do, and I didn’t even know until I got a chance to give it a try
Sarah D: It reminds me, most of all, that education is the key to success. As a first generation student, I know what challenges life can bring without an education and I also know the doors that can be opened with an education. Being able to be in a position where I can amplify the privileges and the advantages of learning and of an education is wonderful. And no one can take our education away from us. Once we learn how to learn in captivating, efficient, and lasting ways, we can go so far
Abby M: There’s also this very self-motivated aspect to it. You get to think, ‘What do I want to learn? How do I want to learn it?’ Within all of that, there’s just this learning for learning’s sake and this huge amount of joy that comes out of it.
Laura F: I’ve grown so much in just my capacity for thought and for problem solving and all of these kind of “buzz words” I guess, but I really mean them.
Sarah D: We become sponges. We are absorbing knowledge and skills and producing new things from what we learn. It’s almost like a superpower.
Laura F: It’s really hard to be removed from the physical space of the Bok Center because one of my favorite things that always inspires me is the energy when I step into 50 Church Street.
Kathryn W: I just remember coming into the space and thinking that there was really nothing else like it on campus. I couldn’t believe that this building just existed on Church Street and looked like a movie set and an artist’s studio just put together. It was such a colorful and vibrant space and people were so full of energy and knew so much about everything! Every single technology and creative form that there was, there seemed to be someone who just really knew what was going on.
Abby M: You’re encouraged to learn with the help of a staff who wants you to learn and you’re encouraged on your own and in the community, so it’s this really beautiful thing.
Laura F: It’s just this really palpable excitement about new things and tools and tasks and solving problems. Nobody does that the way that the people at the Bok Center do, and I’m so lucky and honored to be a part of that and to help contribute to that energy (I hope).
Julie T: I think that is what’s so great about the Learning Lab, as well: there’s so much enthusiasm about starting something fresh and jumping into something that you’ve never done before. It really makes it exciting and it makes me realize that you don’t have to be amazing at what you’re doing, as long as you’re out there doing it and trying. A little progress adds up to something big.
Kathryn W: I’ve definitely felt that I’ve been super supported by the Bok Center to learn whatever I want to learn and also just having the ability to welcome the unexpected.
Laura F: Something that really inspires me is a quote that I heard at the Learning Lab last spring. The person who said it to me was Kathryn, who sadly no longer works at the Learning Lab, but while she was there we became very close and she mentored me a lot. One day, I told her I was scared of keeping a notebook because I worried I would waste the notebook. I have all these notebooks and I never use them. I just let all my ideas bounce around in my head and I never record them. She said to me, “Your thoughts belong on paper.” And so, I went home and I bought a notebook… and on the first page, I wrote down her advice: “Your thoughts are important enough for paper.” And then I have this whole notebook that is almost done, actually. I’ve never finished an entire notebook. I’ve kept all these quotes that inspire me or I’ve created art or written song lyrics or I’ve just planned my day. It’s like a schedule/repository for things that I need to do or goals that I have, and I am so proud of this notebook. That’s just the kind of energy that the Bok Center has and that being a LLUF has
Sophie B: My standards for workplaces will forever be so high because of this job and I often say it’s one of the very best things to happen to me in college — and that is not an exaggeration. The friendship and support that is present at the Learning Lab is honestly unparalleled in most other spaces — I would hazard to say in the world, not just at Harvard. I would say that, while of course the skills I’ve picked up are really important at the Lab, so are just the connections that I’ve made and the people that I’ve met and the incredible things I’ve learned from them outside of Photoshop or coding or whatever: how to communicate things you care about, how to meet new people, how to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, and things like that.
Emmy S: It’s not just the Learning Lab because we help other people learn, because we are also constantly learning and that’s how we help other people. It’s just such a beautiful, amazing, magical, wonderful, inspiring space that I’m so happy and proud to be a part of. Even remotely, even when the physical space isn’t there, it’s been such a welcoming space and my favorite space on campus!
Laura F: I think it’s crazy to remember back when I was a freshman and I was too nervous to go into the science center space before my shift started because I didn’t want to be early so I was just sitting around. Katie came out and she said, “What are you doing out here?” I was just sitting in a chair in the hallway and I was like, “Oh, my shift hasn’t started yet. I’m not on the clock yet so I thought i should wait.” And she said, “Don’t do that, come inside! Be with us and join this community and learn and have a good time and teach us!” That’s the most welcoming environment I’ve ever felt in a workspace. It’s stayed that way and I love it. I hope to be that welcoming for new LLUFs that come in.
Elmer V: The Learning Lab has truly been such a magical place for me, and I really am so glad to have been part of it for this past year. When I look back at my four years, one of my few regrets is probably not joining the Learning Lab sooner. I’m very fortunate, and I’m very glad to have been part of the community.
Laura F: If I’m having a terrible day I just walk into the Learning Lab and my whole mood turns around, so thank you guys for that. I could actually cry speaking about how grateful I am to have you guys in my life, especially now that everything’s a mess. This is one of the things that keeps me waking up at a regular time, so, thank you guys.
Abby M: This semester has been a doozy. We got sent home, we had to learn remotely, we had to socialize remotely, and looking back at it, I think one of the things I am most grateful for the chance to do while on campus, but also remotely, has been work at the Learning Lab.
Sarah D: Now, more than ever, education is facing so many challenges, and the Learning Lab and the minds at work in it are crucial to lifting us out of this situation and ushering in what I believe is a new era of education worldwide, a new era of learning that Harvard is pioneering through the Learning Lab. It’s this virtual mode of learning, and the fact that we get to be a part of this new movement of this new age is humbling and inspiring.
Sarah D: The Learning Lab showed me how empty the traditional classroom could be of fun and creativity and innovation.
Abby M: They’re helping other people because they help Harvard design better classes, they help people design new assignments that can be creative, they help test these assignments, and it’s all through this learning and this excitement and this joy and this self-motivation.
Sarah D: It shapes the classroom, it shapes the educational experience.
Kathryn W: I just honestly wish that all those tutorials, their hackathons, their workshops, could be made even more prevalent throughout the Harvard community because I truly believe that, even if you’re not a LLUF, you could totally benefit from doing a workshop here and being exposed and being sort of thrown off.
Sophie B: I’m so grateful that this semester, despite all of the insane uncertainty and the difficult circumstances, that Bok was able to remain a consistent presence in my life. That was definitely — and I think most LLUFs will say the same — a super important part of the process of adapting to this new reality.
Kylie S: I’ve been here for a pretty short time, and most of it has been in this Distance Lab environment. I think that it’s actually helped me become a bigger part of the Learning Lab community during this remote learning time.
Sofi A: Now, I’m working a bit more independently. Making resource guides or practicing tools or tutorials — most of that is done on my own now,
Kylie S: Everything has felt so accessible, almost, because I feel like we’re all on a level playing field. We’re all tuning into these Distance Lab Zooms, we’re all messaging on Slack, and so this makes me feel like it’s a lot easier to contribute.
Sophie B: I can’t express enough how much love I have for the Bok Center and how grateful I am to get to spend so many wonderful hours a week here in the virtual studio or, hopefully, one day again back in the real one.