The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Two worlds collide

Nancy Olson, City College English teacher, helps engineering student Leng Thao during her reading lab class. Tony Wallin | [email protected]

It can be difficult to find a link when comparing two things as dissimilar as traveling and teaching but for someone who loves both, the connection is strong. City College English Professor Nancy Olsen says she lives by traveling and by teaching. Her familiarity with traveling is intertwined with the teaching style she uses with her students.

Olsen says she searches for her outlook of the world during travel and those new perspectives relate back to her method of teaching.

Olsen’s travels have taken her to many places, including West Africa, most of Western Europe, Central America and all across the United States.

“I love traveling,” says Olsen. “You meet so many more people, and as a woman you seem more vulnerable to [citizens of other countries], so they end up looking out for you.”

Although she loves to travel, she says she relies on her teaching to pay for the ability to do so.

The two parts of Olsen’s life—teaching and traveling—come to work as one. Time management is needed in both areas, but nevertheless more of Olsen’s time during the year is spent teaching.

“I certainly adore teaching,” says Olsen who teaches writing and reading. “I try to keep myself interested as well as the students, and if they’re engaged,
then it’s usually really interesting for me.

Accounting major Troy Metcalf says Olsen’s specialty is her involvement with the students and making sure that they are ready to advance to the next class.

“She has a plan every day,” says Metcalf. “Sometimes discussions will take up the entire class time because she’s so involved.”

Metcalf also says Olsen’s spunky and spiritual personality helps students feed off her energy.

“She seems to really enjoy the subject material,” says Metcalf.
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Part of her personality is trying new things, says Olsen. It is simply part of who she is, whether it’s in the classroom or while traveling.

As a professor, Olsen says, she aims to help students find the desire to learn and to try harder in college. As a strategy, Olsen says she’ll pull a student into her office to find out what the student is interested in.

Her willingness to try new strategies is something that can lead to an achievement in student’s school work, she says. Olsen says she is also willing to attempt something new while traveling.

“I’m planning a pilgrimage this summer…I’m going from Puerto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain,” says Olsen.

A pilgrimage is basically an extremely long walk, she explains. This particular one is 140 miles and people have been completing it for over 1,000 years.

It’s a two-week process and it ends at the Cathedral of St. James, says Olsen.

“I’ve wanted to do it for 20 years,” says Olsen, “since I first learned about it in Spain.”

While staying with an Irish-Spanish couple in Spain, Olsen says she was told about the pilgrimage and thought the experience sounded extremely intriguing.

Besides trying new things, Olsen says she also likes to travel to learn about new perspectives.

She says she notices differences in students’ world-views from her own. By putting herself in their shoes, Olsen determines a way to get through to them, she says.

Olsen’s colleagues says they admire her teaching style.

“[She’s] consistently involved with her students,” says Steve Cirrone, an English professor at City College and Olsen’s office partner. “If she ever feels like she’s having a bad day in terms of her focus, she’s the one that calls herself out on it.”

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