Ms. Wallace selected for major trip

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Ms Wallace in Orvieto, Italy Photo Courtesy of Ms.Wallace
Ms Wallace in Orvieto, Italy
Photo Courtesy of Ms.Wallace

Whether it’s  through her “Culture Vulture” projects or her annual coordination of student trips to Europe, English teacher Georgette Wallace is renowned among Harrisites for her love of culture and international experience. This past summer, Ms. Wallace once again immersed herself in global travel after being selected for a prestigious five-week program in Italy offered by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The NEH is a national agency dedicated to supporting education and services in the Humanities through grants of money to relevant institutions and individuals. Ms. Wallace was one of sixteen Humanities teachers in America chosen to participate in the program, receiving a $3,900 stipend for a trip to Italy aimed at exploring Dante’s epic, The Divine Comedy.

“It was inspiring to associate with so many fine colleagues from all over the country,” Ms. Wallace said.

The trip focused on a series of seminars on The Divine Comedy, which is a philosophical tale about a pilgrim who travels through the afterlife from hell to paradise.

The sixteen honorees worked with Professor Ron Herzman of SUNY Geneseo and Professor Bill Stephany, a retired scholar from the University of Vermont.

Both are experts on Dante, and Ms. Wallace had nothing but praise for their work and guidance.

The students in the program were a mix of music, art, English, and history teachers. Ms. Wallace believes that they each gave and received better perspectives about Dante when they pooled their knowledge together. For instance, the art teachers shed light on the work’s artistic background while the history teachers gave insights on its history.

The daily routine consisted of classes starting at nine in the morning and lasting three to six hours. The group would also travel to nearby cities that were pertinent to Dante’s life.

“After travelling, I would stay up until midnight doing a lot of reading and taking notes for my classes,” she recalled.

Ms. Wallace had to submit an essay and recommendations to apply for the program, and she believes the trips she organized for THHS during her twenty-four years at the school enhanced her application to the program.

When asked about what she took away from her trip, she said, “I learned a lot about Florentine history and Medieval Art. I fell in love with Italy, its history, and its culture. It was truly a life-changing experience.”

Ms. Wallace, who felt that the trip was “refreshing to the soul and the spirit,” encourages students to “be open to new experiences that might seem daunting at first.”