England, Europe, Teaching, Travel

Best Year Ever! Oxford Summer Program

Best Year Ever! Oxford Summer Program


*This trip was cancelled for 2020, but I am still a participant for 2021….so here’s hoping I can go next year!

2020 is turning out to possibly be the best year ever! 2019 was a good year, can’t complain, but it included surprise household renovations totally over $20,000 and some personal stuff. However, we are just over 1 month into 2020 I don’t think I can handle 12 months of this awesomeness. In short here are the blessings our household has received in the past month:

  • I got a scholarship to study at Oxford (CANCELLED due to coronavirus)
  • We’re going to Ireland for 2 weeks this summer (CANCELLED due to coronavirus)
  • I am chaperoning a spring break trip to London & Paris (CANCELLED due to coronavirus)
  • Will got Teacher of the Year for Seminole County

Each of these opportunities deserves their own blog post & I am going to give them their due!

History, Politics, & Society Summer School: University of Oxford

For starters, I received a scholarship from the English Speaking Union of Central Florida to attend a summer program at Oxford for 3 weeks! What drew me to this program was a) I get to travel internationally for free and b) the prestigious curriculum. At Oxford I get to be a student again, sitting in lectures and participating in seminars. I am quite intimidated at the prospect that maybe I’m not smart enough to discuss 20th century geo-political policies or if I have forgotten how to actually sit and take notes! I’m being serious. I was an excellent student in college but I really enjoy being on the other side of the essay grades. 🙂

However, the one thing that drives my desire to keep applying to programs like this is that it pushes me to be a better teacher. Every summer I walk away with a refreshed outlook on the year with academic vigor and rigor under my belt.

The Oxford program is set up for you to take 2 courses (M-Th) in additional to a general lecture (M-F). You select your top two courses and, once approved, get a book list to start studying! I selected the following courses as my top options:

Issues and Problems in the Contemporary Middle East

Following the Arab Spring, events in the Middle East have attracted much attention. This course will examine major recent strategic, political, and economic developments in the region and will explore the interests of key outside powers. Topics such as the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation, the importance of oil and gas, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the growing influence of Turkey in the region will be discussed. The prospects for further democratisation will be examined given the Syrian conflict and increasing tensions between Sunni and Shi’a Islam.

Tutor: Dr Gareth Winrow is an independent analyst and part-time tutor for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE); he was formerly Professor in the Department of International Relations at Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey.

Read more: Dimensions of the Middle East Summer Institute Itinerary

Responding to Crisis: Refugees, States and Borders Since 1918

The recent mass flight from Syria is a reminder of what happens when war, state collapse, or environmental breakdown engulfs a society. Yet the experience is not new. What is new is the way in which the world is being blocked off to the free movement of desperate peoples. This course will chart the historical course of increasingly dystopian international responses to humanitarian crisis and what – as human beings – we can do about it. Case-studies covered will include the population exchanges at the end of the Ottoman Empire, Holocaust rescue efforts, and the emerging environmental refugee crisis.

Tutor: Dr Mark Levene is Reader in Comparative History at the University of Southampton. His writing ranges across genocide, Jewish history and environmental and peace issues especially focusing on anthropogenic climate change. He is co-founder of Crisis Forum and founder of the Rescue!History independent academic networks.

Read more: Travel Tips for Teachers

Both of these classes are incredibly relevant to both my AP World History curriculum and my general awareness as a global citizen. I did have the wonderful opportunity to attend a summer program last year on the Middle East at Duke University and I certainly walked away with a depth of knowledge but one week was not enough! I hope I can couple that program with this one to create a robust storehouse of knowledge on the current and historical state of the Middle East.

I have to thank the English Speaking Union of Central Florida (ESU) for an incredible scholarship of $7,000 that is providing for the opportunity for me to even go on this trip. This money is truly the only thing allowing this to happen & I am so lucky I have found generous organizations out there that support the arts and humanities fields. This money covers my food, lodging, tuition, airfare, and incidentals.

*Note: if you live in Seminole, Osceola, or Orange counties (Florida) you’ve GOT to check out their website for other amazing grant opportunities. Don’t pass up free money y’all!


P.S. here is the newsletter with our awards ceremony

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