November 28, 2011
By Laura Pochodylo ‘14
Simon Lichman, the 2011-2012 Visiting Israeli Scholar at Knox College, describes his role as "introducing the Knox community to aspects of Israeli culture." He does so through his work as a folklorist, co-existence educator, and poet.
Officially known as the Joseph B. Glossberg Visiting Israeli Scholar Program, the program was established at Knox in 1995. It is supported through a gift from Knox College Trustee Joseph B. Glossberg.
Lichman, who has lived in Israel for 40 years, said that each scholar's experience is different, and each contributes a unique perspective on Israeli culture. His unique perspective comes from his work in conflict resolution and co-existence education with Israeli and Palestinian schoolchildren through a folklore program.
While at Knox, Lichman delivered public lectures and taught a class, Applications of Folklore to Cross Cultural Education and Co-Existence Work. He covered the specifics of his folklore education program in one public appearance and read his own poetry in another.
"I felt there was a marvelous response to my poetry reading and a phenomenal reception to my other lecture," Lichman said.
Lichman also has found relating to students and faculty at Knox to be a rewarding experience. He feels the Knox academic community does a good job of navigating the complexities of the Middle East in an effort to better understand what is happening.
"Anybody who doesn't live there can never truly understand the true complexity of the situation, yet I am impressed with how the people at Knox know what questions to ask," Lichman said. "I've had many interesting conversations with both students and faculty about the complexity of Middle Eastern conflicts."
He said he finds Knox to be "incredibly warm, highly intellectual and challenging."
"I have been astounded at how readily I have been accepted into the community and welcomed into campus life," Lichman added. He credits the local synagogue, Temple Shalom, with helping to put him at ease and make him feel welcome.
A native of England, Lichman has lived and attended school in Israel and the United States. His diverse background has increased his understanding of multiculturalism and his interest in studying and "helping people getting along."
"It has also helped me get the most from American culture and gave me an ability to more easily translate ideas into the educational language here," Lichman said.
His training as a folklorist, his experience with co-existence work, and his understanding of Israel are the outside perspective that he feels allows him to bring something new to campus.
"I wanted to get the most out of Knox and have as much interaction with the students as possible," Lichman said, "And overall, I have found the students very impressive."