WASHINGTON PA (July 27, 2017) - In a classroom separated from Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) by thousands of miles and an entire ocean, associate professor of English Jennifer Harding, Ph.D., found students at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, seemed surprisingly familiar.
“My students all spoke excellent English. I felt they were all on par with W&J students. That part felt very successful because it carried over from what I do here and what I’ve done here for a long time,” she said.
Harding won a Fulbright award through the U.S. State Department to teach two classes at Charles University in Prague during spring 2017. While there, she gave seven guest lectures at different universities throughout the country and lectured at the American Embassy in Prague.
Harding and her family embarked on their Fulbright adventure in February. At Charles University she led discussion-based graduate and undergraduate courses for English-speaking students from countries throughout the European Union that focused on cultural differences in language and customs as portrayed in literature. A study of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying led to conversation about cultural norms around death and dying, while examining Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower brought on discussion about why walls exist and treatment of those thought to be “other.”
“We all learned a lot from the Czech students because that was the culture that all of us who were from other countries…were there to learn about. So a lot of our discussions did come back to Prague and Czech culture, because that was our common ground,” she said.
Harding also was able to connect with Heather Painter ’13 overseas. Painter, also a Fulbright recipient, was completing her project in Vienna. Harding said she enjoyed learning about the work Painter was doing, and forming relationships with other Fulbright scholars who were teaching in the Czech Republic.
Her experience made her eager to promote W&J’s connections with Prague and encourage students to apply for Fulbright grants.
“I hope by having this connection with Prague, I’ll be able to maintain that connection in ways that help W&J, whether it’s by bringing a class there or helping students who want to do Magellan Projects in the country,” she said.
In addition to her semester in Prague, Harding published her first book, wrote the feature article for the May issue of British literary magazine Babel, and will have a chapter featured in an upcoming MLA teaching series publication. Read more on Harding’s accomplishments here.
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