#FacultyFriday: Michelle Harlow shares travel experiences

Associate professor of English Michelle Harlow, who has taught at Reinhardt since 1989, knows the impact traveling has made on her own life. She now makes it a point to incorporate lessons from her global experiences into the classroom. 

“I’ve always had the desire to go to new places and try new things,” said Harlow, who grew up with a travel agent for a sister and a Santa Fe Railroad employee for a grandfather. “It runs in the family.”

As a child, she accompanied her grandparents on drives across the country, trips to Mexico and sailing excursions in Mississippi. Later, she earned a Master of Education from Central State University in Oklahoma and a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from Hollins University in Virginia.

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Michelle Harlow, associate professor of English

After completing her Fulbright-Hayes Program trip to China in 2005, she traveled to Tibet with Dr. Donald Gregory and Dr. Curt Lindquist for what ended up being one of her favorite trips ever. While there, she learned about temples, Buddhism and Tibetan traditions, and received a high lama’s blessing for her mother, who was battling cancer.

Upon her return to the United States, she was so inspired by Tibetan culture that she decided to get tattoos of Tibetan symbols and create an IDS course called Tibet: Roof of the World.

“I love this class because I get to share my own experiences in Tibet while teaching the students about a place that most of them don’t know,” she said.  “It’s rewarding to know that I am helping them learn about another culture, another part of the world that is a mystery to most people.”

In addition to Tibet, Harlow tries to incorporate information about other countries whenever relevant to the course material. When she teaches Dante and Homer, for example, her trips to Rome and Greece help to enhance her lectures with real-world experience.

Harlow hopes that her students will someday discover these foreign countries and cultures firsthand.

“To be truly educated, I believe people must travel outside their own worlds,” she said. “Seeing different places in the world is vital to understanding it.”

When she’s not globetrotting, Harlow studies the plot structures of TV shows, films, and books and writes her own scripts. She plans to travel to Morocco next year.

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