“Special Topics in English Studies: Dante’s Inferno” — Jordan Scruggs
This course introduces students to the life of Dante and his Inferno through a creative reading and appropriation of the poem’s text. Guided by each week’s reading and equipped with knowledge of relevant literary tools (rhyming scheme, meter, assonance, etc.) participants respond to writing prompts related to Dante’s journey through and emergence from hell to create theatrical scenes that utilize play-writing techniques discussed in class. Students are required to incorporate quotes from the Inferno and music that they find to be meaningful to their own “journey” through life into every assignment to create a final performance that straddles both the timeless (themes of sin and redemption) and the specific (their personal experiences). Written responses are continually revised throughout the semester and work-shopped with fellow students. Each student is responsible for their own five-minute scene within the final collaborative, theatrical performance that they will be enacted for fellow Rising Hope students on the evening of Monday, Dec. 21st.
A poignant statement made by a student:
“Pulling a trigger is easy. You don’t have to think real hard or be brave to do it – most of the time you don’t even have to look somebody in the face. You just squeeze your finger and believe you have the power, but you really don’t. You just got a gun. It’s different when you gotta get up in front of other people and talk, like for a class presentation. You gotta look other people in the face to do that and think in front of them. You gotta expose yourself mentally and wonder if you’re doing it right, or if people think you’re stupid. That’s way more terrifying than the streets.”
Theology – Clare Hammoor
During Contemporary Theologies at Fishkill, we’re wrestling with a new theological dilemma each week and unpacking it through the readings, reflective writing, performance and discussion. We are working to pull our answers from the most salient questions for each person in the room to create individual catechisms that identify the complexities of our relationships with God, each other and our world.
I’m attaching one of the guys’ writings from a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to write this to share it with me — it’s not a direct requirement for the class but I think it shares a deep moment in his journey:
“WHO ARE YOU to ask me how I’m doing, and why should I tell you?
Why should I tell you that I’m hurting inside? And that I yearn to be respected by my peers even when I give the impression I don’t? Why should I tell you that even though I look strong and muscular and very secure of myself, that at times I feel scared and weak and very insecure?
Who are you to ask me if I’m okay? And why should I tell you that at times I’m not okay? That I fight back tears, tears that when I can control them still attempt to surface during the strongest times.
What I need is forgiveness. I truly need to be forgiven for all my sins. Who do I turn to, and where is the truth? Is it hidden? If so, why?
If you look at me too long you might see me crying. Please don’t watch me cry. You might see me and I don’t want you to see me. Not yet! I’m big! I’m bad! I’m all that and then some. . . until I’m, I’m myself. Then I’m caring, loving. thoughtful, pleasant and happy.
Happy because I ripped the old me into microscopic pieces and with the help of a Rising Hope, I’m building a newer, bigger, better Me; a real man. You can watch me cry now because those tears you see are tears of joy!”
Counseling and Therapy – Knud Hansen
This is an introductory course. We use two books: (1) “Intentional Interviewing and Counseling” by Ivey and Ivey. This is a nuts and bolts textbook on interviewing and counseling. It will help students by providing them with a solid, well-researched foundation in the skills of interviewing and counseling.
The second book is “The Road Less Traveled” by Dr. Scott Peck. This is a book about personal development. Through the discussion of this book the students are encouraged to change and grow. Long held onto beliefs and understandings are challenged and new ways of looking at their world and how they function in it are explored.
One of my favorite quotes from a student made in the middle of a serious discussion on love was: “I’m learning things that I thought I already knew.”
I believe that this quote, captures in a nutshell, the growth that takes place in students during the year they spend in the Rising Hope program.
Church History – James Ulrich
We were giving oral presentations about important people in medieval times. I noticed before class that one of my students sounded strangely affected and I had no clue why. When I asked for volunteers to begin he came forward and began to speak in a quaint English dialect, in the persona of William of Ockham, one of the greatest of scholastic theologians. While he was regaling the class with stories and examples of rebellious intellect, a guy who was not in the program opened the door, walked into the classroom by mistake, and looked around in some confusion. Dr. Ockham welcomed his questions without breaking stride in the role of a 13th century scholar, explaining with perfect logic all the requirements and benefits of Rising Hope. Impressed, our strange guest said he had to look into this, and upon leaving, the class broke into uproarious applause.