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A lecture in a Dartmouth classroom

When thinking about Dartmouth, one of the first things that comes to mind is the undergraduate focus and the relationships students are able to build with professors. Whether it is research, professional mentorship, or academic enrichment, doing work with Dartmouth professors is extremely accessible here on campus. However, Dartmouth also hosts many guest professors and lecturers who are not permanent members of the faculty: in this post, I want to describe my experience taking classes with guest professors and what value those classes have brought to my Dartmouth experience.

The first class I took with a guest professor was a creative writing class during my freshman fall with Alaa al-Aswany, a famous Egyptian author; this was a great opportunity to practice my writing skills with guidance from an acclaimed creative writer. Most of the class was spent working on drafts of our own short stories, and receiving feedback from both peers and al-Aswany himself. Since he's a practitioner, being able to learn about his methods and philosophies on writing was very interesting and helpful in framing my own creative writing process. Additionally, since I don't have much experience in creative writing, this class was a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. I definitely think that learning some creative writing skills has been beneficial to my writing overall, and I'm really glad I took the course.

The other class I've taken at Dartmouth with a guest professor is actually this winter term with former President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga. Being able to take a course with a former head-of-state has been an incredibly interesting experience. The class is focused on Sexual Violence in Southeast Europe, and it has been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the history and politics of the Balkan region, which I didn't know much about before taking the course. In addition to learning about political history, President Jahjaga is able to give us her unique perspective on navigating national issues and policymaking during her presidency. She also has shared her experience working with womens' rights and sexual violence prevention NGOs after her presidency, so being able to learn more about social change both from a governmental and non-profit perspective is really valuable. The class has is still ongoing, but it has certainly been an enriching experience thus far.

Taking courses with guest professors is always a unique experience because most of the time, these instructors are practitioners without much experience in academia. This makes their perspectives and methods different from those you'd usually see in regular Dartmouth classes, and I think having this mixture of perspectives is valuable. In all professors are definitely a core aspect of Dartmouth's academic experience!

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