Ami E. Relf, an English teacher from Buffalo Grove High School, was recently selected as one of 25 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholars.
Relf will attend the University of Arkansas at Monticello's Summer Institute, "South Africa: Continuity and Change."
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Summer Scholars will learn about the geography, history, culture, society, religion, education, economy and government of South Africa during five weeks there. The 25 participants in the program each receive a stipend of $3,900 to cover their travel, study, and living expenses.
Professors will deliver lectures and participants will attend a variety of events at the National Arts Festival, the largest on the continent. Visits to historical and cultural sites will include the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha, the KwaMuhle Museum in Durban, the Ezulwini Valley in Swaziland, the Apartheid Museum and Soweto Township in Johannesburg, the Voortrekker Monument and Museum in Pretoria, the Open Mine Museum and the "Big Hole" in Kimberly.
For two weeks, participants will conduct a field study, interacting with South Africans and visiting cities, savannas, mountains, lowlands, and coast.
"Teaching World Literature offers me the opportunity to teach literature from authors from around the world," said Relf.
"Currently, I teach three novels by African authors: 'A Long Way Gone,' 'Purple Hibiscus,' and 'Things Fall Apart.' It is important to have representations of African literature in the world literature curriculum. This inclusion breaks down the stereotypes students have about Africa and African people.
"As I continue to teach African literature, be it a poem, short story or novel, I want to be able to give my students an insider's perspective," Relf said.
"Attending NEH's 'South Africa: Continuity and Change' will give me the opportunity to have a greater knowledge of the culture and literature. The institute will allow me to integrate an insider's perspective into the classroom, to increase my students' levels of engagement and provide my colleagues with materials and research to benefit the entire student body."