This year, one of Foxcroft Academy’s English teachers, Morgan Rublee, had the opportunity to teach abroad at the American Academy in Prague (AAP), in the capital of the Czech Republic. Rublee left FA during the second semester to teach several English courses for AAP’s last trimester. She is known to be a well-versed traveler; before leaving for Prague, she had already been to 17 countries. Having studied abroad in London and traveling across Europe during her years at Colby College, along with several other trips, teaching abroad was a perfect fit for her interests and experience.
While at the partner school of FA in Prague, she taught similar classes to those in her curriculum at Foxcroft Academy, such as “Death and Other Fun Things” and “World Literature.” In her “World Literature” course, Rublee had the chance to teach many works of writing she was familiar with, such as Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” She also taught a course not offered at Foxcroft Academy called “iCommunicate,” in which students observed the way that celebrities and brands use social media as a way of marketing themselves or their products. In this class, students relied heavily on technology.
Though she enjoyed teaching all of these courses, she revealed she had a front runner. “My favorite class was Death and Other Fun Things,” said Rublee. “The kids in that class were engaged, and I think it’s because the novel we focused on is so strange and different from other things they are reading.” In this class, she and her students did an in-depth study of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. This classic novel follows the story of a WWII veteran with PTSD named Billy Pilgrim and his experiences which center on the firebombing of Dresden, Germany. Rublee revealed that teaching this book to students from Europe was much different than teaching it to students from the United States. “Most of the kids have been to Dresden, which is where the bombing occurred,” said Rublee, “Students in the United States don’t know about the bombings because the United States government covered it up for so long, but these kids did, which is why they were so engaged. They felt connected to it.” The students Rublee taught and interacted with were from many different countries not represented at FA, such as Palestine, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, and Slovakia, among others.
Since the school was relatively small, Rublee had the opportunity to connect with a diverse group of students as well as teachers, and in the process, she was introduced to more cultures than she had ever been before. “AAP was a big building that had two other schools within it,” said Rublee, “We were on the second floor, and that was the whole school. There were only 80 kids there, so it was small.” Another contrast AAP has in comparison to FA was that teachers were required to share classrooms. “Because of this there was so much collaboration,” said Rublee of the tight quarters, “The teachers were open about what was happening in the classrooms. Everyone was willing to share their material.” Rublee spoke of how she and her colleagues would exchange resources, which she said was extremely helpful in gaining more knowledge of her own and receiving different perspectives and opinions of the materials she had already been teaching.
Rublee lived in an Airbnb twenty minutes away from the academy, and she claimed she enjoyed the walks each morning and afternoon. “The best part is that Prague is so dog-friendly,” she said, as she would walk through a park each morning where she knew there would be plenty of dogs to greet her happily. In Prague, animal companions are allowed in stores, restaurants, and other public buildings.
Outside of the time she spent exploring Prague, Rublee also visited six other countries, raising her count to an impressive twenty-three countries visited. The countries she visited include Germany, Poland, Luxembourg, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Malta. Rublee said some of her trips were spontaneous, such as her day trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as her visit to the gorgeous island of Malta. The other excursions she made were planned, such as her tour of Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland.
The most memorable place she visited was Nuremberg, Germany. “I went to the Nazi rally grounds where Adolf Hitler held huge rallies with thousands of Nazi supporters,” she said, “I actually stood where Hitler stood to give speeches, and it was a really eerie moment. It was almost more uncomfortable than visiting Auschwitz.” The experience made her realize “the scope of how many people were involved in one of history’s greatest tragedies.”
Overall, Rublee’s experience teaching abroad at AAP was a great one. Looking back, she said, “I’m so thankful for the opportunity that I was given. Travel is so important to understanding people, and the better you can understand people, the better you can teach them.”