PEGGY DAVIS TAKING 3-MONTH SABBATICAL WITH CHRIST CHURCH UNIVERSITY IN ENGLAND
INA, Ill. – In his Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer had his knight, pardoner, miller, physician, plowman and 21 other storytelling travelers. He did not have, however, a professor. Maybe he would have, had the 14th-century author known Peggy Davis, an English literature associate professor at Rend Lake College.
Davis, a resident of Mt. Vernon, will have her own Canterbury Tale when she returns from a 13-week teaching position abroad at Canterbury Christ Church University in England. She will board a plane in September with students from Illinois and Missouri. Two of those on the plane with her will be RLC graduate Michael Bell of Mt. Vernon and sophomore Rebekah Brewer of Pinckneyville. Brewer will take classes on Shakespeare, British literature, world religions and modern Britain.
Davis’ tale, she said, will hopefully be filled with stories of students who are able to experience what they would not have been able to experience without this opportunity.
“I hope my story is, more or less, a compilation of their stories,” she said. “I look forward to the students coming to me and filling me in on what they have experienced and what they have learned.
“When I found out I could get on a plane without embarrassing myself, I thought, ‘Oh! Well, I’m applying!’
“I’ve never had the opportunity to travel much at all. The only time I have been out of the country was to visit Canada once. I thought this was such a wonderful opportunity. I just couldn’t pass.”
As a faculty representative, Davis will teach classes and special lectures, coordinate student activities and supervise field trips, assist students with adjustments to living in a new culture, perform administrative duties, advise and counsel students, hold on-campus office hours, and more – many of her same job duties as an instructor at RLC. At their June meeting, the RLC Board of Trustees approved a sabbatical for Davis’ assignment, which means she will continue to receive her regular paycheck just as if she were back on-campus in Ina. In England, a three-bedroom furnished townhouse is provided free of charge to Davis. Her airfare and transportation is also covered by a state grant through the Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs.
Founded in 1986, the ICISP is currently composed of 34 institutions and one consortium. Membership in ICISP is by invitation only to public and private two-year colleges and small four-year colleges in Illinois and contiguous states. RLC has been a member for ?? years, according to Sue Tomlin, a professor in the Liberal Arts Division at RLC and the campus ICISP liaison.
Davis will also be a student at Christ Church. She is required to attend Modern Britain classes with her students.
“I look forward to being in the class with the students. I think that will be very interesting.”
She won’t be in class teaching and studying or holding office hours the whole time. A portion of the agenda is devoted to travel and there is a reading week designed to allow for even more time where students and faculty visitors can virtually travel back in time by taking in the sites around England and other parts of Europe.
She looks forward to interacting with the people and literature of Canterbury. Most of all, she looks forward to being with the students who are experiencing a new culture for the first time and the trips she will take to broaden her own cultural experiences.
“I hear there is a pretty vibrant writing community in Canterbury. I want to look into that while I’m there and see what activities are going on. I hope to take other trips. The students will have some time to travel and ... are encouraged to ... get out and go other places.
“I’m certainly going to make it to France, London and anywhere else I can reach while still covering my obligations. My primary reason to be there is for the students. ... I can’t think of anything that’s not going to be exciting about it.”
An orientation has been set for June 25 at Heartland Community College where the ICISP office is located.