Traveling Fellowship Awarded: Gann Teacher Heading to Japan
Gann nurtures its teachers as deliberately and thoughtfully as it does its students because passionate teachers make for engaged students. One of the unique programs Gann offers faculty is the Carol Ruth Jacobs Traveling Fellowship. For the past seven years, with the generous donor support, the Fellowship has enabled one Gann teacher to travel each year to pursue new experiences which will enhance their teaching. This month, the newest recipient was announced, Media Arts teacher Maya Wainhaus. Wainhaus will travel on one of the program’s furthest trips thus far: she’ll head to Japan to experience, document, and study modern street photography.
"Japan has a thriving contemporary art scene in the areas of film, animation, design, and photography," says Wainhaus. "Street photography has always offered a unique way to capture the spontaneity and ﬂow of urban life. I plan to apply the knowledge and techniques gained on this trip to my Media Arts classes, to provide a new level of historical and cultural context, along with a widened global perspective."
While Wainhaus has never visited Japan before, she does have a strong personal connection. During World War II, her grandfather was one of the 6,000 Sugihara Survivors. “Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese consul to Lithuania,” explains Wainhaus. “He saved thousands of Jews, my grandfather included, by writing ‘visas for life’ that allowed them passage out of Europe. I am alive today because of his heroic actions.” By including a visit to the Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall in Yaotzu, Wainhaus will use the trip to further a long-running photography and film project that retraces and documents her grandfather's escape from the Holocaust.
The Carol Ruth Jacobs Traveling Fellowship was established by Carol’s sister Jill Jacobs, brother-in-law Fred Haber, and their children Ali '09 and Joseph '11. Carol taught middle school social studies for more than 30 years. “Most summers she traveled for several weeks and always brought back stories, ideas, and lots of souvenirs to enrich her teaching,” says Jill. “After she died, we wanted to honor her memory, and I couldn’t think of a better way to do that than to establish a traveling fellowship for Gann teachers.” Wainhaus's personal connection to Japan struck home with Jill, "Every place my sister traveled, she would look for Jewish life and history and, if possible, find a relative (or records of deceased relatives)."
Past recipients have traveled to Spain, Northern California, France, Israel, India, and England.