A bright red door on the front porch of 1524 Compton Avenue welcomes visitors into a unique space on Belmont’s campus, the recently renovated home of the University’s Honors program.
The Honors program moved from Fidelity Hall into the house in 2006. Built in 1920 and purchased by Belmont in the mid-’90s, the building long served as a residence for junior and senior women. This past summer an honors student’s parents generously donated the funds to renovate the somewhat dated rooms with the goal to make the house more of a home, creating a community-minded space that would better serve the program.
Dr. Jonathan Thorndike, professor and chair of the Honors program, said, “The renovation has made the house more beautiful, more contemporary and more inviting for students and faculty. They have been using it more for study space and for gathering for lunch on the front porch besides for classes. The renovation helped build community and make the students and faculty feel like the university values our space.”
Janie Townsend, a sophomore music business major from Pflugerville, Texas, added, “The renovation makes the Honors House an even more pleasant environment to spend time in, whether for social or academic purposes. It also makes the house sufficiently less creepy. Which is a perk.”
Recent graduates to serve in Ukraine, France
May 2013 Belmont University graduates Katie Godwin and Jill Barrett were recently awarded program grants for overseas teaching in Ukraine and France, respectively.
Godwin, an English and honors major and Russian minor from Huntsville, Ala., received an English Teaching Assistantship Fulbright grant to Ukraine to assist in teaching English in a university for the 2013-2014 academic year. Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools.
In addition to aiding with classroom lessons and activities, Godwin will be responsible for other English language-oriented projects, such as language labs or American culture seminars, for students and those in the community. In addition to receiving the Fulbright, Godwin has participated in the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (for Russian) in Kazan, Russia, volunteered as an English language instructor in Moscow with the Institute of Humanitarian Development and served as an English language teaching assistant in a bilingual primary school in Madrid, Spain.
Godwin said, “I applied for an ETA Fulbright grant because I am interested in pursuing a career in education research. I’m particularly interested in teaching abroad because participating in and observing foreign education systems will allow me to better understand the many methods and tools that can be used to approach the current issues facing our school systems. Furthermore, the Fulbright is an opportunity to promote cross-cultural understanding, which is an essential part of international education.”
Jill Barrett, a French/English double major, will be working with the Teaching Assistantship Program In France (TAPIF), a sister program to the Fulbright administered by the French Ministry of Education. A native of Franklin, Tenn., Barrett will be teaching English from late August through next May to middle and high schoolers in Excideuil, a small town in the south of France.
Barrett—who studied abroad in Angers, France during the spring semester of her sophomore year— said, “Basically, I get to serve as a sort of conversational guide and language facilitator. I have always had an affinity for the French culture, language and people… When I came home [from studying abroad in 2011], I knew that my time in France wasn’t quite over, and I started looking for ways to go back when I graduated. The TAPIF program was a great option, and thankfully, I was selected! In the long run, I’d love to get my master’s in French and teach it in some capacity. This experience will hopefully solidify my French language skills, while also giving me a little bit of insight into the culture and lifestyle.”
Continuing a five-year partnership, Belmont University’s Troutt Theater will host a production from The Salama Institute this weekend as students from the Christian-based nonprofit organization perform The Wiz.
Last summer Salama celebrated its 25th anniversary with Dimensions, a Cavalcade of Music from Opera to Broadway that included performances of Porgy and Bess, The Wiz, West Side Story, Dreamgirls, Grease, Cinderella and Carousel. This year, students return to The Wiz, a soulful rendition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
“We do Broadway for a couple of reasons: it demands artistic excellence, is a great training ground for our kids and exposes them to more classic work,” said Development Director George Crook. “We have been doing Broadway shows for 11 years and use it as character development for our kids. Peer pressure, sex, drugs, broken relationships, the struggles with fame – we try to take these things and find the life lessons our kids can learn from it. The Wiz is a historical African-American production, and it has a lot of life lessons on why you have to value home. With the tornado we talk about the trials of life, courage and hope.”
On Monday, student leaders from throughout the Belmont community participated in a poverty simulation event co-hosted by the Honors Program’s Leadership Studies program and Catholic Charities. The highly interactive simulation was intended to give students a small taste of what life is like on an extremely limited income. For one hour, participants were asked to join the nearly 40 million U.S. citizens who live with incomes below the poverty line, and through role-playing they faced some of the many challenges that confront real low-income families.
The simulation opened with representatives from Metro Social Services and Catholic Charities sharing statistics on poverty throughout the world as well as locally. Students were then assigned “roles” and “families” and spent the next hour—broken into four 15-minute weeks—attempting to go to work, pay bills, send children to school and deal with unexpected hardships.
Metro Social Services Dinah Gregory explained, “This simulation is intended to help students identify with the poor. Poverty can happen to any of us at any time.”
Junior nursing major Jennifer Thompson took part in the event, which was titled “Knowing Our Neighbors: Coming to Understand Poverty in Our Community.” During the simulation she played the role of a married grandmother who took care of two grandchildren; the grandfather in the family had mobility issues so Jennifer worked full-time while the grandchildren attended school.
“I’ve done evaluations like that before but not one so personal where you are physically carrying out those roles,” Thompson said. “I knew it was hard and stressful, but being put in that situation made a world of difference… [It was challenging] trying to balance all the errands necessary to accomplish in one day, with work, getting food, paying bills, etc. It was extremely difficult to pay all the bills, and by the fourth week we were evicted and the granddaughter was in jail.”