Monthly Archives: August 2010

Planning Multicultural Reading Day

Two of our concentration members, Danielle Melvin and Gera Miles, are planning a Multicultural Reading Day for Spring 2011.  Danielle writes, “The idea originated from the African-American Reading Day that we did Feb. 15, 2005.  We had a brief program and students and faculty were able to read a passage from their favorite Afro-American author, or recite a passage of their original work.  It was all followed by a reception.  We held the program at the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center.”  Danielle and Gera would like to see the readings be “more inclusive” of our different cultural literatures this Spring.  As soon as we have chosen a date, we’ll let you know.  A great turn-out would be an exciting way to celebrate who we are.

Our talented and diverse students

What an extraordinarily talented and diverse group of students we have!  I just heard from Joan Conwell, already a published scholar in the discipline–see, for example “Papa’s Masks:  Roles of the Father in Danticat’s The Dew Breaker” in Obsidian III (2005-2006).   Joan spent part of her summer in Argentina and Uruguay doing research on indigenous populations in the region.  She sends this bone-chilling image from an ethnographic museum: a “race kit” used for identification and eerily reminiscent of those used in Germany.

I was delighted to learn that we have a successful author of children’s books participating in our program.  Pansie Hart Flood’s biography from the website tells us that she “grew up in the heart of the South as the youngest of seven children. Fond memories of summer visits to her grandmother’s gave her the inspiration and vivid setting for her first book, Sylvia & Miz Lula Maye.”

First Contact

Good morning, everyone.  I wanted to share with you my welcome back message to the MTL faculty.  Here goes:  Although I’m still putting the finishing touches on syllabi, I gave my students access to my Bb sites and sent them a brief note of welcome.  It still amazes me how anxious students get about the courses–concerned about whether they’ll be able to do well, to manage the challenges, to stay organized.  Almost immediately I got emails back with questions about individual assignments, the sorts of prompts I’d give on the Discussion Board, and course content matters.  I replied that I would be back in touch with them with specific instructions about all elements in the course and that I would maintain contact, in fact more contact than they would’ve received in a FTF course.  Basically, I tell them to chill.  One then wrote back “Namaste,” which cracked me up.
Forgive the story, but it’s these little exchanges that are part of what makes this whole deal worthwhile–the human contact, the sense that we have something of enduring value to offer and (I hope) the skill to make a difference in these peoples’ lives.  In some measure, I dread the start of the school year because I’ve cluttered our little holiday with memories of meetings and administrative arguments and a hundred little problems to solve.  And then I remember what, to me, is the spiritual aspect of our work, and I’m once again thankful to be in this privileged position.  Have a wonderful year!