Distinguished International Teaching Fellows

Njelle Hamilton in class

Al-Quds University and Brandeis University have identified the teaching of languages -- both English and Arabic -- as a major area of need for all Effective Teaching projects. As a step towards that need, the Distinguished International Teaching Fellows program was established to allow experienced graduate students and faculty to spend a period of time at the partner university to teach in courses and lead workshops in the native language.

The first teaching fellows were Lydia Fash and Njelle Hamilton, both doctoral candidates in English and American literature at Brandeis University. During June and July 2008, Lydia and Njelle spent nearly six weeks at Al-Quds University's summer school teaching English language courses, leading workshops, advising on curriculum and material development and furthering the overall goals of the Effective Teaching project.

Intensive English classes

The intensive English classes were designed for Al-Quds University faculty and staff in a variety of disciplines and offices, as a pathway to improving their own English language abilities as well as their ability teach English. Each fellow taught one five-week class. One class was a more advanced class featuring some analytic writing and speaking, and the other covered the basics of the English language. Both Brandeis and Al-Quds universities hope this class for faculty and staff can continue in the future leading to advanced training, and building on the groundwork created by the Teaching Fellows.


Njelle and Lydia led three intensive workshops for Language Center faculty: Theories and Methods of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Using Technology in the Classroom, and How to Lead Discussions. Many left with new ideas about how to construct lesson plans and enliven the classroom. "During our last day on campus, one of the teachers told me that she was implementing the techniques she had learned during the workshops and that both she and the students were enjoying the class more," said Lydia. "It made me feel great - that we had accomplished something."

Curriculum Development

In addition to teaching, Lydia and Njelle also spent numerous hours with Al-Quds University partners working on curriculum development. Together, they identified textbook and material needs, made a proposal for a "conversation hour" and conducted classroom observations. Many materials and resources can be accessed at: alqudsenglish.blogspot.com.

Next Steps

At the end of their stay, the teaching fellows produced a report and shared their recommendations with Al-Quds University partners. These conversations will help partners trace out next steps and follow-up projects.

Teaching Fellows 

Njelle Hamilton
Njelle Hamilton is in the process of writing her second novel, "Flight of Fancy," while reading for her Ph.D. qualifying exam in postcolonial literatures, mentoring a group of 10 type-A Posse scholars and teaching a theme-based writing class on Caribbean music and contemporary writing. Fond of travel, languages, the performing arts and NBC's "Heroes," she has lived and taught in Jamaica, France, England and the U.S. In her non-Brandeis life she is a singer, songwriter and novelist, and hopes she can make a living in one (or all) of those fields, or at least put them to good use in her dissertation. If all else fails (and even if it doesn't), she hopes to start a model prep school of the arts in rural Jamaica for naturally talented working-class children.

Lydia Fash
Particularly interested in space, architecture, urbanization and transnationality, Lydia Fash is in her third year of a Ph.D. in nineteenth-century American literature. She has taught literature and writing at private high schools and at Brandeis, and she has instructed non-native speakers in English language at the high school, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels. Lydia has frequent desires to flee the city and her Ph.D. work for long weekends backpacking, climbing or cross-country skiing. Though that rarely happens, she and her husband do often take their tandem bicycle out for rides in and around Boston.