Rend Lake College routinely sends students to Canterbury, England, as part of its Study Abroad program. However, English Professor Rebecca Biggs will soon become the first instructor RLC has sent to teach at Canterbury Christ Church University College.
According to RLC Sociology Professor Dr. Sue Tomlin, about 50 students from Illinois are sent to Canterbury each year, but there also is a need for two teachers to act as mentors and advisors. These instructors teach one class at Canterbury as well, said Tomlin.
Biggs applied for one of the teaching slots last year, she said. When she was not selected for the trip, she decided to make herself more marketable to the Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs, which oversees the process, by teaching extra classes. She said she also strengthened her literature skills.
"At least they would know I was very interested," said Biggs. Her extra efforts made a difference and she was chosen to fill one of the instructors’ slots.
"I’m looking forward to everything," said Biggs. She leaves with the students in January 2005 and will return that April. While in Canterbury, she will teach an American Literature course.
"It will be a great working experience," Biggs said. "I will be able to interact with people rather than just being a tourist." However, she will have the chance to do quite a bit of sight-seeing as she supervises students on several educational field trips.
CCCUC is known for the wide diversity of its student population, and Biggs will instruct a broad cross-section of them in her class, she said. "It will be a nice experience to open up our eyes to the ways other students learn and other teachers teach," she said.
Biggs said she likely will have to use CCCUC’s course plan. At that university, classes generally last two hours, with one hour of lecture followed by a seminar of one hour. Biggs will be involved in the seminars, she said.
In England, there are strict standards for an institution of higher learning to be designated as a "university." In October 1998, the college added "University" to its name by permission of Privy Council, a position which is considered an extremely high honor in the United Kingdom.
Canterbury, one of England’s oldest and most historic cities, is still surrounded in many places by medieval walls. Long an important business and shopping center, Canterbury also features numerous cinemas, museums, libraries, galleries and bookshops.
RLC student Rachel Holman-Olivier of Mt. Vernon returned late last year from a semester in Canterbury. In addition to taking several English and literature courses, she undertook many cultural visits to historic sites, such as Stratford Upon Avon (William Shakespeare’s home) and London. Holman-Olivier’s group also visited several cathedrals, University of Kent College, and even the infamous 221 B Baker Street, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle headquartered the fictional genius detective Sherlock Holmes.