Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Instructor News: September 2022 (What We Did This Summer)

stone labyrinth with sun and clouds in the distance
Stone labyrinth that Christine Alfano helped to build in 2019 and had the pleasure of walking in 2022.

For our Back-to-School edition of Instructor News, we asked our lecturers to share some of their summer highlights. Read on to learn about their adventures -- as well as for a list of some of their favorite summertime book and media.

Christine Alfano

I managed to sneak away a couple times this summer. I moved my daughter into her apartment in NYC, visited family in NY and Massachusetts, spent time with friends and family on an island off the coast of Cape Cod (that was all one trip!) and then also took a quickie roadtrip with my son between Montana (where he's living) and the Bay Area.  The picture below was taken on the boardwalk in my hometown, a small community on the Long Island sound. (Not pictured: aggressive humidity)

boardwalk by the beach, with sunlight behind clouds and glinting off the water

Nissa Cannon

I packed too much (good stuff) into this summer (domestic and international travel, visits with friends and family, teaching for LSP, trying to finish my book proposal), so some of my favorite moments were the quietest ones (I sat and stared at the little stretch of Finnish coast in this picture for about 3 hours).

a picture of the finnish shoreline, with rocks and calm water

Harriett Jernigan

I had a lovely time teaching SOAR writing for the second summer in a row. I also had the opportunity to conduct a series of interviews for the podcast for GRACE journal, talking with Abeba Birhane, Nakeema Stefflbauer, and Onyothi Nekoto about ethics and AI. Finally, I led a workshop at UC Louvain la Neuve in Belgium on using ecological approaches to designing interventions for classroom-based research in second-language acquisition.

I also caught up on three years of missed travel and went to Europe for seven weeks. I visited a lot of my favorite places and people in the Netherlands, France, Austria, Germany, and Belgium. Despite the heatwave and a shockingly inefficient German train system, I had a blast! Windmills, Michelin stars, champagne houses, cooking courses, flaneuring, old friends, new ones, and tons of laughter.

woman toasting, looking at the camera, with a glass of wine

Hayden Kantor

This summer, I worked on my book manuscript and other writing projects. The highlights were day trips to Manresa State Beach with our daughter, Wellie, age 2.

Man holding 2-year old child with pig tails, at the beach, both in sunglasses

Sangeeta Mediratta

This summer has been eventful! A long postponed trip to Italy, a not so mild bout of Covid, a big fat Indian wedding of my friend’s daughter (I claim her as mine too!), a run away dog, and nonstop cooking for my visiting elderly parents and it’s a wrap. I can’t wait to be back at work! 

Group photo of a family at a wedding, wearing colorful, traditional Indian saris

Kevin Moore

In June, I had the privilege of attending the SF/Northern California Emmy Awards with my partner Erika Carlos. Erika's short video documentary "Las Vulnerables" for the San Francisco Chronicle was nominated for an award. The film documents the lives and labor conditions of a group of women working in export-only medical device maquiladoras in Baja California during the pandemic (I have a tiny production credit in the doc). We didn't win, but it was a huge honor to attend and to see Erika's film recognized. We're also engaged :D 

MAn and woman, dressed in formal attire, outside the Emmys

Emily Polk

This summer I was thrilled to be able to co-lead a Climate Writing workshop and retreat with former PWR instructor Dr. Lauren Oakes. Scientists, journalists and advocates from all over the country gathered at the base of some of the fastest shrinking glaciers in Chamonix to write about the climate crisis together. After the workshop, my family met me and we did a small portion of the famous Tour du Mont Blanc trek, hiking from France to Italy. (The photo is of me bringing the NSC to the trek! Sadly, the last remaining patch of glacial snow we'd see is in the background.)

Woman hiking up a mountain in a green shirt that says "NSC"

Becky Richardson

This summer, I've enjoyed new teaching ventures, working with the Leland Scholars Program for the first time -- joining the "Introduction to Collaborative Research" team -- and preparing a short series of lectures on Frankenstein and Dracula (just in time for Halloween).

A real highlight of this summer was a roadtrip to Oregon to visit my mother -- lots of exploring, hiking, and, of course, birding.

picturesque scene from the top of a mountain, looking at snow-capped Mt Hood in the distance

Ruth Starkman

I was lucky to teach wonderful incoming frosh in SOAR again, see my kids, and spend every day with my parents. With a quick trip to Vienna, I was also very fortunate to secure several new internships for PWR students in journalism, human rights, and AI ethics, through the UN and other institutions. These are fully-funded, paid internships for first-gens. Here's a picture of their cool summer digs, which used to be a women's hospital in Vienna's 18th district; rumor has it, I delivered babies there in the last century as a midwife.

Jenne Stonaker

Here’s a photo of the tomatoes and other produce that we picked from our veggie garden in July, after being away for a couple weeks. The garden has been suffering in the heat this week, but hopefully I’ll have a couple zucchini ready just in time to make zucchini bread for September Sessions! 

picture of vegetables on a counter, including zuchini, heirloom tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes

Roberta Wolfson

This summer my husband and I have been getting to know our daughter Cassidy, who is nearly six months old now. It's so fun to discover the world through her eyes! It's also been fun to host friends and family who have visited from all over (Los Angeles, Washington, Florida, and even Iran!). One major highlight was taking Cassidy on her first overnight trip. We stayed in Carmel for the weekend, where we enjoyed exploring the town and visiting the beach. We've also enjoyed a couple day trips to Half Moon Bay, and my husband and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary in August by taking Cassidy out to dinner at the restaurant where we got married.

woman holding cute baby of about 6 months old, both smiling at the camera

Book/Media Recommendations:

  • Better Call Saul superbly wrapped up the prequel to Breaking Bad with a profound message about the male anti-hero era. (Lisa Swan)
  • Rebecca Scherm's A House Between Earth and the Moon (book): This a compelling piece of speculative fiction about our climate and technology futures, following a team of researchers based on a luxury space station built for billionaires. (Hayden Kantor)
  • Last Call at the Hotel Imperial, by Deborah Cohen. As a life-long fiction consumer, I've recently been incorporating more non-fiction into my diet, and this history of WWI and WWII's foreign correspondents is riveting and eminently readable. (Nissa Cannon)
  • I read Zadie Smith's collection of essays titled "Intimations." I loved watching Smith's thoughts meander, diverge, and then meet anew as she contemplated the same things we've all been thinking about for the last two years, from what it means to be productive to race and racism in America. (Harriett Jernigan)
  • One of my favorite books I read this summer was How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid, which was beautifully written and deeply moving. I was so captivated by the ending paragraph that I re-read it multiple times, and I still am not fully sure I know how to interpret it! (Roberta Wolfson)
  • While searching for podcasts to prep for the roadtrip, we ran across Decoder Ring (from Slate) -- lots of great deep dives into everything from the history of the mall, to the 19th-century Stowe-Byron controversy. (Becky Richardson)
  • My favorites from this summer: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (finally read it!), Stranger Things (yup my kid made me watch it and I had so much fun), and C’mon C’mon. (Sangeeta Mediratta)

More News Topics