Preparing to teach in Bosnia

In a few weeks, I will be teaching my first classes at the University of Mostar. Right now, I have prepared three courses,each focusing on American studies through film studies. These three courses all allow me to develop concepts and theories, which I have discussed in my courses at NVCC.

The first course is covers the ideology of the American Western: rugged individualism is the keystone to American culture. However, in an egalitarian culture, dissent is present. To discuss this, I have prepared a course in the Gangster film, which has evolved into the police procedural. You know, all those CSI and Law and Order type shows. These gangster films also present another view of American individualism.

Finally, the post-graduate course is a focused study of the impact that Spike Lee has made upon the imagery of African Americans in popular culture. This course will, as will the others, include examination of written texts, and in this case, music.

What has been insightful is the way syllabi are prepared in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was given a sample syllabi to use as a model, and I was surprised to see that there is no focus on classroom behavior, but a focus on texts and objectives. At NVCC, my syllabi are full of rules concerning academic honesty and dishonesty, classroom behaviors, how to appeal grades, and so on. After preparing these new syllabi, I am re thinking my Spring courses. In addition, the amount of required reading was refreshing to see. I am hopeful that these elective courses in film and media will be of use and interest to these students.

I am fortunate in that I am teaching in the English language department, and my interactions with the faculty and staff have been very positive.

Another insight was packing up two boxes of teaching materials to ship over for my classes. One really needs to plan ahead in order have all your research and teaching materials. I am so used to running to the library for a book or an article. I can only hope my DVDs make it unbroken.

Yet, I suspect that my students will teach me far more than I will teach them.