On 22-25 June 2016, I attended the Global Course Alliance Workshop organized by the GLCA in Bratislava, Slovakia. I worked on a themed course with my partner, Dr. James Hodapp, from the American University of Beirut. Our work together was centered around “Cultural Representations of Mental Illness in African Literature.”
James and I would be sharing a couple of texts in our African literature and Modern Global literatures classes respectively in Spring 2017. These texts are The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna, Girls at War by China Achebe, and Stone Virgins by Yvonne Vera. We also hope to supplement these readings with short story Memories We Lost by Lididumalingani which won the Caine Prize for literature 2016.
We hope to foster cross-institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty and staff of Hope College and American University of Beirut. We also look forward to developing full fledge connected course where we would share all texts in both courses, together with similar pedagogical strategies and assessment and evaluation methods in 2017-18 academic year.
Bratislava is a unique and interesting place. Riding in a bus from Austria to Slovakia, I got a glimpse of the landscape, the farming communities, and the natural vegetation. James and I took time off to explore the center of town. A few photos are displayed: a cow on skewer (barbecue), dinner with a colleague, and my favorite photo; a man emerging from the drain.
My favorite photo taken in downtown Bratislava:
The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) organized a workshop for department Chairs and Heads of Division of member colleges in Portland, Oregon, from 13-15 June 2016. The theme of the workshop was “The Joys and Challenges of Leading from the Middle.” The DoubleTree hotel by Hilton was the venue for the workshop. As Chair of Hope College’s English department, I participated in the almost week’s long intensive training.
I got to meet colleagues from all over the States, engaged in discussions relating to administration, and created networks for future collaboration and support. I got to lead sessions on the curriculum, budgeting, and faculty development.
Two of the most important sessions were institutional policies especially those relating to hiring and faculty evaluation, and having difficult conversations with colleagues. The workshop was very well organized, speakers were well prepared, and sessions were informative and instructive.
This was my first trip to the north west of the USA. Portland is green, luxuriant, and cool. With its rainy weather, hilly topography, and beautiful landscape it reminded me so much of my native Sierra Leone. The pace is slow, the people are friendly, the streets are clean, and (yes) the food is great. I spent time exploring the streets of Portland at the end of every working day, admiring the breathtaking landscape and searching for every oriental and caribbean/African restaurant I can find.
I was sad to say good bye to Portland at the end of the workshop. I know that it was not only a time well spent, but that part of me will always remain in Portland if only because of the memories of Sierra Leone it brought to me.
Here are a few pics from the workshop: