Helen’s interest in multicultural teaching and learning, race and racism, human rights, and the causes and elimination of poverty stem from her experiences growing up on Chicago’s South Side and as a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching science in Tripura, India in 1964-66. She began writing essays for the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Montreal Gazette in the 1970s (while teaching English as a Second Language to French-speaking adults and raising her children on an organic farm outside of Montreal). Her increasing dissatisfaction with politics as usual led her to pursue two graduate degrees at the Center for International Education at UMASS Amherst in the ’80s. Here, she was privileged to work with and learn from grad student peers from all over the world and began to understand global issues from the perspectives of the people most affected by colonialism and impoverishment. While in grad school she also worked as a Peace Corps trainer in Togo, West Africa and as a writer for Peace Corps on Nonformal Education and Community Development, conducted short term trainings in Cote d’Ivoire and the Solomon Islands, helped start a cross-cultural training company, directed a language and culture program for Chinese graduate students and their spouses, and worked on her dissertation, which was about cultural influences on academic writing.
When she graduated from UMASS with her doctorate in Education, she was hired at Michigan as a writing instructor in the (then) English Composition Board (now Sweetland Writing Center). By lucky accident, the director of the RC, Herb Eagle, was a member of her old Peace Corps India group, and the rest, they say, is history. Her most recent interests, especially after 9-11, involve the history and practice of nonviolence. With the help of students, she created the Peace and Social Justice Minor, which was accepted by the U-M Curriculum Committee in 2007.
Nonviolence in Action RCSSci 354
Unteaching Racism RC Core 100
International Grassroots Development RCSSci 315
“Listening to the World,” National Council of Teachers of English, 1994
“When Race Breaks Out” Peter Lang, Inc. 2003
“ALT DIS: Alternative Discourses and the Academy” (Ed. with Schroeder and Bizzell) Heinemann, 2004