When and why did you begin teaching at CU?
I began teaching at CU in the academic year of 04-05 because this is where I got work. I moved here from Austin, Texas and at that point I didn’t have a job and I got a position here. I taught at the University of Texas until 2001 and then I moved to North Carolina. I worked at a boarding school for about a year there and then I decided I didn’t want to teach high school.
Where did you grow up? Where were you before Austin?
I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and I grew up under the Apartheid government in Cape Town until I was eight years-old. When I was eight, we moved to Israel and I lived there until I was 13.
We returned to South Africa because my father got extremely ill and my mother, who had six brothers, most of whom were physicians, were scared to stay in Israel without them. So we returned to South Africa and that’s where I lived afterwards.
Why did you want to teach initially?
I initially came to universities to become a clinical psychologist and then as I went through my training in graduate clinical psychology, I realized I really loved literature. So I moved from clinical psychology to a degree in Hebrew literature and as I became a graduate student, I got a full-time teaching job in the Hebrew department at the University of Cape Town. One thing led to another and I became a Hebrew professor.
What are you most passionate about teaching and what legacy do you want to leave for your students?
The passionate thing that I feel about teaching is that I would like to encourage students to develop critical thinking. I think that’s the most important thing that somebody could inspire in students- the way to look at a text, the way to look at the world in a critical way and to analyze what’s going on and not just accept it.
The other thing that I feel passionately about is writing and reading, which both go hand-in-hand. I’d like students to like reading and get to understand texts and to develop writing skills, which in some ways seem to be a bit lacking in today’s world. We have really become consumers of electronic texts, more than actual producers of texts. Another legacy I would like to leave with students and encourage with students is curiosity about the world and everything in the world, ranging from ideas about space, the earth, its history, people etc.
What’s something you are most proud of?
I am proud when my students go on to achieve things. I kind of feel like a mother, like I’ve mothered them into it because I do have discussions with them about what they want to do and sometimes I get notes from them and responses from them telling me that I’ve inspired them in the direction they have taken.