John Walker does and he’s sharing his knowledge with students enrolled in the VHCC Upward Bound summer program. In fact, he’s teaching them to speak Latin and a great deal about the Greco-Roman culture. It’s doubtful, of course, that students will begin having conversations in Latin, but they are gaining some valuable insights from the class.
“I’m planning to go into the medical field, so knowing Latin words is important,” said Alice Becker, an Upward Bound participant from Patrick Henry High School. “It’s kind of cool to learn a new language.”
Latin is the focus of World Culture this year, an annual component of the summer program. Students are busy now learning Latin words and phrases, reading about the Greek and Roman empires, and exploring archetypal stories first told in ancient days. When the program wraps up on July 9, they’ll enjoy a banquet of Mediterranean food to cap off their weeks of study.
Behind every great summer program is a great teacher who exhibits passion, and Mr. Walker is a perfect example.
He teaches Latin at Patrick Henry High School during the school year and perfects his skills each summer by attending Conventiculum Latinum – also known as the Annual Convention for Spoken Latin to those who haven’t quite mastered the Latin language – at the University of Kentucky. He’s joined there by Latin enthusiasts from around the world, who spend several days communicating entirely in Latin.
And while Mr. Walker doesn’t expect to see any of his students there, he does hope the Latin they’ve learned will provide them with a more diverse vocabulary and a greater understanding of how ancient times have impacted the modern world.
And while the students are having a lot of fun, they’re also working really hard to glean some useful tidbits of information from their lessons. After all, like Lucretius used to say, “ex nihilo nihil fit.” (Nothing comes from nothing.)