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Ancient Greece Comes Alive for Michalos at Prestigious Seminar
8/20/2012
Photo:Dr. Constantina MichalosGesturing animatedly about her experiences at the "Song Culture of Athenian Drama" seminar in Washington D.C., Dr. Constantina Michalos, director of tutorial services and visiting assistant professor of English, tells stories of deep group discussions, comedic presentations and collegiate brilliance. 
 
The Center for Helenic Studies and the Council of Independent Colleges cosponsor a seminar on Ancient Greece in the Modern College Classroom for faculty members. During the week of July 23-29, participants had the opportunity to extend their knowledge of ancient sources and develop strategies for incorporating them into their courses. The seminar was more fulfilling than Michalos could have imagined.
 
"The engagement, intelligence, collegiality and resourcefulness was incredible," Michalos said. "In no way did their promotional materials suggest what it turned out to be."
 
Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Dominic Aquila sent an email soliciting applications from faculty and staff for this highly competitive seminar. Only 20 people are selected nationwide each year, and Michalos, in her second year at UST, is the first person from St. Thomas to attend.
 
The all-expense-paid seminar was at the Center, a secluded complex of houses and meeting facilities on Embassy Row in Georgetown, Washington D.C. All meals were provided, and Michalos, who was the only Greek in attendance, spent money only on souvenirs for her grandchildren.
 
Facilitators Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University, and his protégé, Kenneth Scott Morrell, associate professor and chair of Greek and Roman studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, kept energy levels high and the work ongoing for the group of professors and artists. Each participant was required to read four plays a day, watch a historical movie in the evening and engage in discussions and group activities throughout the day.
 
"The input was varied and amazing," Michalos said. "The group worked really well together because everyone was gracious and extremely knowledgeable in his or her area of expertise. It was never contentious and allowed for healthy discussion. After the week, I was exhausted, but in the best way."
 
Although the foundation of the seminar was the introduction of new ideas through discussion, much fun was to be had through group presentations and linking ancient ideas and processes to the 21st century.
 
"The whole point is to get a full picture," Michalos said.  "In my classes, I’m plugging in music, art and videos that I saw and learned about from the seminar. First, I'll have to explain the method to my madness, but this stuff wasn't written in a vacuum. I want the students to realize these plays have a continuum. I work hard to show connections among texts, authors and centuries in my courses."
 
Michalos teaches Shakespeare, freshman English, African American studies and courses in the Master in Liberal Arts program.
 
Delving into concepts about politics, history, religion and popular culture, Michalos came away with a variety of out-of-the-box ideas she is excited to unveil to her students. She said, as liberal arts students, these concepts will integrate these ideas of evaluation and continuity into their other courses. Students have even told her they notice these themes in their other classes in other departments.
 
"I'm always excited about teaching in general, but I can't wait to see how the seminar translates to St. Thomas." Michalos said.
 
Eager for other faculty and staff members to jump at this coveted opportunity, Michalos encourages her peers to apply for the seminar next year.
 
"The opportunities for scholarship and growth offered to everyone at UST, students, faculty and staff, are extraordinary. For me, this was an opportunity of a lifetime."

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