Preserving neglected and personal histories fuels Associate Professor of English Ifeoma Nwankwo’s love of stories from the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States. As the principal investigator and founding director of Voices from Our America, Dr. Nwankwo encourages undergraduates to understand the relevance that field work has to a literary discipline.
Voices from Our America aims to capture a range of individual viewpoints and experiences that can be used to make more informed scholarly and policy approaches to engaging various communities. The result is a dialogue that spans cultures and generations, while also fueling enthusiasm inside the classroom.
“I teach a class called Life and Literature in the Caribbean Diaspora and when we talk about Caribbean people in Canada, students are always so excited.”
“I teach a class called Life and Literature in the Caribbean Diaspora and when we talk about Caribbean people in Canada, students are always so excited. We tend to think about Canada as this place with just Anglo people. Maybe once in a while we think about the French, but students get very excited by the idea that Canada, and in particular Toronto and Vancouver, are multicultural cities with people from all over and what happens there as a result. Vanderbilt students respond very well with the opportunity to have this exposure in their regular classes, not just through study abroad.”
“I’ve also created a new course series called Music City Perspectives which will focus on different aspects of Nashville life and culture. I look forward to being able to tap into the excitement that students already have to create new opportunities for educational experiences.”
By bringing events to life through first-hand accounts, Professor Nwankwo has become a student favorite. Not surprisingly, the true secret to her success is conversation. “Professors are actually fun people. We are not staid. We are as excited about things as students are, and so we enjoy and welcome opportunities to converse with students and for students to converse with us.”