Posted on 20 June 2016
Jennifer writes about her experiences of her time at the University and in York:
“I am a fifth grade history and language arts teacher from Oakland, California, and have been at the University of York on a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant since January. This grant gives American teachers the opportunity to study and learn about education in countries outside the United States.
I fell in love with York immediately, although when I first got here the city seemed so small and old that I wondered how I could get used to it! I often went out with my camera, exploring the city during the daylight and working at night. The rich history is interesting, and I enjoy being able to walk everywhere. I love the incredibly long days spring/summer days - when I need time to think I can go for an even longer walk! Now I can also finally rattle off my long UK phone number with confidence. I know the meaning of ‘gate’, ‘bar’, ‘close’, and my favorite, ‘parade’. I can now code switch my spelling and punctuation between British and American rules.
I love York’s location – I enjoy hopping on the train and visiting other cities. In particular, I explored Northern Yorkshire - the Moors and the Yorkshire Dales (and wondered why anyone would consider fracking in the Moors). I also love what York itself has to offer: I walked all the Walls, read my book on a sunny day in the Museum Gardens, saw the Minster Plays, studied in King’s Manor and Minster libraries, and visited the York galleries and museums. I talked with teachers about history and citizenship education at conferences. I visited history classes at a York secondary school. I got my York Explore card and couldn’t believe how easy it was to get a library card! I love the social climate of York public libraries. People here sometimes talk in the library! I have had many discussions in the library café where people like me were drinking coffee and reading, writing and talking.
I was frequently asked about two topics: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton running for the president’s office in the upcoming elections and gun control laws in the U.S.A. I asked about the EU referendum and people were willing to share their thoughts. I have had referendum conversations in the libraries, but also coffee shops, taxi cabs, and hair salons.
I have chosen to research a topic related to the economics of the transatlantic slave trade – my project is entitled: ‘Mapping the Trade: Teaching the transatlantic trade integrating history and citizenship education’. My first months at the University were spent at the Morrell Library, running numerous JSTOR searches and combing through stacks of books in the history section on the third floor. To gain more insight into the relevant areas for my project, I have also audited two classes with Department of Education’s masters’ students in the Spring and Summer terms. I have spent the last couple of months talking with various people about citizenship education and how can I make my project more student centered and engaging. My final project ended up being very different to what I had initially envisioned, thanks to Professor Ian Davies and the Citizenship and Global Education class. It is now integrating history and citizenship education so that the students will be examining why it is important to study the slave trade today from the perspective of how the trade influenced U.S. Constitution, the economic trade in the USA.
Thanks to the many people I have met and worked with at the University, and the people of York I’ve had a chance to talk to in all the random settings, this trip to York has been an amazingly rich experience - unlike anything I have done before.”