Announcing the Relaunch of the Paideia Institute’s Outreach Programming
An Interview with Aminata Hughes, Paideia’s Outreach Manager
We are thrilled to announce that, after an extended hiatus caused by the global pandemic, the Paideia Institute is relaunching its Outreach programming. These programs are rooted in the Paideia Institute’s mission to increase access to and engagement with the classical humanities across all sectors of society. To learn more about these initiatives, I spoke with Aminata Hughes, Paideia’s new Outreach Manager, about why outreach is crucial for the field of Classics today and how YOU can get involved now!
(Interview edited for clarity and brevity)
AF: Tell me a bit about yourself and how you found your way to a career in educational outreach and Classics. What past experiences do you bring to your current role at Paideia?
AH: I went to the Brooklyn Latin School, where I was a very serious student of Latin (my claim to fame was getting a perfect score on the National Latin Exam my freshman year!), then I went on to major in History and minor in Classical Civilization at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City, where I first got involved in outreach work. I was a part of the student government and various other student life organizations–basically anything and everything that had to do with being an active community member and giving back through outreach. After that I worked as a substitute teacher in New York and New Jersey as well as teaching English in Osaka, Japan.
AF: What does outreach mean to you, and why is it important in the field of Classics?
AH: To me, outreach poses the question: how are you serving your community? What tools or resources can you use to give back to your community? From your position, who can you help? This idea ties deeply into my own personal philosophy of helping and uplifting others. During the upheaval of the pandemic I was trying to organize my thoughts on my career trajectory and the missions that drive me in life, and this is what I wrote down:
1) I would like there to be more morality, more justice, and more honesty in the world. I would like to help people marginalized due to their race, class, gender/sex, ability and/or orientation in the United States and abroad. 2) I would like there to be more knowledge, truth or clarity in the world. I would like to promote the knowledge of history and the humanities.
As for why it’s important to bring these philosophies to outreach in Classics, frankly, because Classics is still an exclusive club. Not enough people have an opportunity to learn Greek or Latin, or enjoy the benefits that a classical education provides. And because of this exclusivity, I have personally struggled with the questions: do I even want to be in this field? Do I really have a place here? Why not specialize in a topic that is closer to my own cultural heritage? Even as a young girl interested in Latin and the classical world, I had to negotiate this lack of representation. But I do believe that there is a place for everyone in Classics, and I think that outreach is important because the Ancient world was incredibly diverse, and all people should be able to see themselves in history.
AF: What are the Paideia Institute’s outreach initiatives?
AH: Our core outreach program is Teaching Literacy with Latin, an after-school program that enables volunteers to offer introductory Latin classes to elementary and middle school students. The program’s curriculum, called Aequora, centers the study of the Latin language as a building block towards literacy in English and Spanish, with the bifold objective of bolstering student success in Language Arts subjects and expanding access to the study of classical languages. We currently have six active Teaching Literacy with Latin sites in New York City, Baltimore, Connecticut, and Mississippi, but we are eager to expand the program all over the country (and hopefully abroad!).
Our other main outreach program is the Paideia Greece and Rome Prizes, scholarships that cover full tuition and airfare for our summer high school programs in Italy and Greece. Recipients of these prizes also receive free standardized test tutoring and ongoing college application support. We currently have partnerships with The Brooklyn Latin School, Boys’ Latin Charter School in Philadelphia, and Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington DC, but we are hoping to expand it to include more classical public schools serving underrepresented populations!
AF: How can people get involved with outreach at Paideia?
AH: There are many ways to get involved! Those interested in establishing a new Teaching Literacy with Latin site or volunteering at an existing one can reach out to me through the program’s website. You can also make a donation here to the Greece and Rome Prize scholarship fund to help give a high school student a life-changing opportunity to study the classics abroad. For further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]!
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