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Professor's summer residency will help improve literacy in Mexico

By Lilly Berkley, University of Arizona

May 2, 2017


If you are reading this, you are lucky.

Researchers with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization found that nearly 17 percent of the world's adult population, and 122 million youth around the world, are illiterate.

To help decrease those figures, the University of Arizona's College of Education is, for the second year, using the Richard Ruiz Residency Scholar Program to make literacy more accessible bi-nationally.

Melisa (Misha) Cahnmann-Taylor, a professor in the University of Georgia College of Education's department of language and literacy educaiton, was selected to serve as this year's scholar. Specifically, she will use art, poetry and theater to engage community members in Guanajuato, Mexico in literacy education this summer. She is being engaged through Resplandor International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization established out of the UA College of Education and located in Guanajuato.

"We believe deeply in formal learning as well as inspirational learning," said Todd Fletcher, an associate professor in the UA Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies and Resplandor's founding director. "We're excited Cahnmann-Taylor has a specialty in this area, because it's not just about book learning but humans striving to achieve knowledge and excellence through the arts."

During the program, children and adults will be engaged through workshops and other projects. Cahnmann-Taylor has extensive experience bringing different means of storytelling and engaging the community in literacy. In addition to cutting-edge theater programs and poetry events, Cahnmann-Taylor also oversaw two NEA Big Read events for the Athens community.

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