Donald Wright

What brought you to Hood College?

I am not sure if I chose Hood or if Hood chose me. What brought me to Hood College was our former provost, Bob Funk, who saw the merit in starting a Middle Eastern studies program. It was part of his long-term vision for the College, a program that made us competitive among the liberal arts colleges in the area. I think Dr. Funk made a wise decision; I have met fascinating students, and more and more of them who are interested in this particular field of study.

What do you value most about your relationship with students?

I am continually amazed by the students at Hood College; I find them inquisitive, intelligent and interesting and, at the same time, modest. One of the great advantages of teaching at Hood is the diversity among the student body. I have met and had in class students from all over the world and all walks of life. This is what makes Hood a fantastic place to work.

Why is teaching your dream job?

Is there any other dream job? I get to go to work in a field about which I feel very passionate and share that passion with interested and intelligent students. Since my field involves, in part, the contemporary world, I get to share my thoughts with students and they share their thoughts with me about a world that is ever changing and what our role is in that world. I have also had students travel abroad, in France and Morocco, and I truly enjoy seeing how they open to the world, how they grow. I, like my students, have a better understanding of the common hopes and goals of all of us, and our goals as individuals living in a global society.

If you were to consider another career, what would you consider and why?

Considering my love for travelling and learning about new cultures and languages, I would have to say that I would like to work for an NGO that works with the poor in underdeveloped nations, especially in the field of education. I think this is where I would be able to help people the most. One thing I have learned about the people of our world, is that 99 percent of us all want the same things, to be able to fulfill our basic needs of food and shelter, as well to feel valued and have a sense of belonging. I would like to think this is possible.

Describe your approach to teaching.

My approach to teaching is, when it comes to language, complete immersion in that language. I want the students to understand that they are sending clear and meaningful messages in the language they are learning and that language (foreign or native) is an essential part of identity to a country and a people. When it comes to content classes, I have to say that I touch upon very controversial issues that make students feel uncomfortable. My goal is to provide the students with a breadth of materials that takes into account many viewpoints. By providing them the tools to express themselves, I hope that students are able to talk about current issues in an intelligent and informed way.

What is/are your most memorable moment/s at Hood?

Being invited to give a speech on diversity for the AHANA-I (African, Hispanic, Asian, Native American) awards ceremony at the end of last year.

Describe your academic interests and research?

I have already published one book, “Du discours medical dans l’oeuvre de Proust,” which came out in 2007. I have completed a second work on the role of Greco-Roman Antiquity in the development of national pride in Europe in the 19th century. Both of those works have led me to the book on which I am currently working, a study of the development of public and private space in Morocco in the 20th and 21st centuries. Having worked at the Louvre Museum in Paris, I study, more specifically, the development of museums and public gardens and how their construction and collections become an inseparable part of national identity.

When you aren’t working, what are you doing in your spare time?

I spend most of my time outside of the school year traveling, which involves, of course, knowing something about the culture and the language of the place I am going, so I spend a lot of time learning new languages. Why? Of course you are thinking, “In the age of globalization everyone speaks English.” Well, many people do speak English, but talking with people in other cultures in English only reinforces a globalization of the colonial attitude. You would be surprised to see how genuinely happy people are and how engaging they become when you try to speak their language.

Name three books that you would recommend everyone read:

The “Mahabharata”
“The Journey” by Ibn Battuta
“À la recherche du temps perdu” by Marcel Proust

If you would like to contact Professor Wright, you can e-mail him at