Expanding minds through expanded boarders

Most would say that people can only set life goals when they’re still young. Others, however, are still setting goals and have dreams to do bigger and better things even after they’ve figured out what occupation they want pursue. For English teacher Megan Black, these goals extend beyond borders of being a high school teacher.

Although Black still has many different things to do on her bucket list, she knew from a young age that teaching was something she always wanted to do.

“I always loved learning when I was a student,” Black said. “I got so excited when my teachers would have really fun lessons that I decided that I wanted to be that kind of teacher for other students.”

Black didn’t go through the normal process of becoming a teacher though. As an active member of the Rotary Club in Kentucky she received a scholarship to attend a post-secondary education outside of the country. She chose Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland to earn her master’s degree which took her 13 months.

Black’s master’s degree was in popular literature and her classes involved a lot of reading throughout the year and a lot of time spent in the library. Black said she had to read 100 books every semester, and every week was a different genre.

“The first semester we read different books from a different time periods, and then the next semester we did different genres,” Black said. “One week we read detective novels, one week we read children’s literature, one week we read comic books, so the idea was that it was [a popular piece of literature at that time], so it was a lot of fun.”

While in Dublin Black worked on several service projects put on by the Rotary Club, one of which she came up with on her own which she called ‘Warm Hand, Warm Heart’ where she distributed hand warmers to the homeless.

“Through the service projects I got to work to really make a difference,” Black said. “I got to feel like I was really doing a lot of good in Dublin.”

Black said going to school in Ireland was a great experience and she learned a lot about different cultures through the students at Trinity College, Dublin.

“I built a lot of really wonderful relationships with people from all over the world because Trinity is such and international school,” Black said. “I got to learn about, not just the Irish culture, but Indian culture, English culture, Canadian, there were people there from everywhere, so I was really fortunate to have that.”

Along with attending school in Ireland, Black also studied abroad in England and Spain, and did part of her student teaching in America, and the other half in Corozal, Belize. In Belize, she taught English at a college level in a low socioeconomic area.

Black said teaching in a third world country was a great experience and she was glad to have the opportunity to see what it was like to teach under harder circumstances.

“I really got an appreciation for teachers in other countries who don’t have computers that they can implement in the classroom,” Black said, “teachers who don’t have smart boards, and are still really wonderful teachers who can inspire their students to learn.”

Recently, Black had the opportunity to go back to Ireland for the paper she wrote while she was a graduate student about a Party Tree mentioned in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and will soon be published in a book containing several other essays by international authors.

“[I attended] this conference with people from all over the world who were Tolkien authorities,” Black said. “I was one of those students whose paper was accepted to be published, and in order to be published, I had to present it at a conference.”

The conference provided her with the opportunity to meet with people from around the world and experience new ideas and perspectives on literature.

“I got to meet some of my favorite authors,” Black said. “We talked about each other’s papers and we tried to revise them, so I got a lot of really good ideas from a lot of different people about how they interpreted my writing and things that I could improve before we actually published [the book] next year.”

After living in so many different countries and being exposed to all sorts of different cultures, Black said she would love to continue traveling, particularly to Germany, Japan and Antarctica. Although she does loves to travel and see the world, she wants to continue doing what she loves best – teaching.

“I think everywhere you go is kind of unique, each place has different aspects that are really wonderful and then also different things that are really challenging,” Black said. “But, I am really happy right now teaching high school. I am not sure I would do it for 30 years, but right now I am happy teaching high school.”