1.) What led you to your vocation as an educator?
I came into teaching as a second career following some 15 years in social justice ministries in California, Southeast Asia, Paterson, NJ and the South Bronx. While exploring education as an adjunct Theology instructor, I discovered that education provided me with an opportunity to teach material I am passionate about, build strong and meaningful relationships with students and colleagues and to continue to engage in social justice concerns. I now have spent more than 20 years in Catholic education, mostly as a classroom teacher in secondary ed, but also in Middle School and higher ed. I have also worked in campus ministry and administration. I love being a teacher – it’s a great life.
2) Why is this course important to you? To our society? To our students?
I have a Masters of Theological Studies and an M.A. in Jewish and Christian Studies. I currently teach Sacred Scripture, Social Justice and World Religions. This course seems tailor-made to my interests and teaching areas. This course opens the door for me to achieve my life-long dream of visiting the Levant and to explore the geo-political, cultural and religious realities of the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
I believe the most pressing concerns for our U.S. American society at present have to do with racial justice and the immigration/refugee crisis in the Middle East and beyond – these issues are related in many ways. This course provides the important opportunity for American educators to gain a first-hand experience of some of these issues. Could there be a better time for American educators to become familiar with the religion, culture and politics of the Levant and to build relationships with folks from Jordan and the surrounding areas? This is the time that Martin Luther King refers to as the “fierce urgency of now”.
For the very reasons that this course is important to our society, it is important to our students.
3) What do you hope to get out of this experience?
I am very open to however this experience unfolds. I am excited to learn and to meet people. I am excited to bring this experience back to the classroom, back to my students when classes resume following Easter break.