Retiring teacher continues Prague trip

By Noah Jaeger

A beloved program is kept alive by a passionate GCC professor; her name is Dr. Ruth Callahan; she teaches a variety of classes, including: English 091, Mythology and Intro to Holocaust Studies.

Starting in 2006, Callahan created a mental film into the past of the Holocaust. “She developed a course, and it’s the only course offered by Maricopa Community Colleges like that,” says Ken Bus, who is in charge of the International Education department at GCC.

The course is called Intro to Holocaust Studies. “The class emphasis [is] on literature of the Holocaust, including fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry, much of which involves theological and moral debate,” according to

Every year, Dr. Callahan, along with students enrolled in her Intro to Holocaust Studies class, travel to Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. “It is a beautiful, beautiful city,” says Callahan.

“They visited historical sites, museums, universities and parliament and participated in a round table discussion with former Czech dissidents,” says Kathryn Howard, Program Manager of the International and Intercultural department for Maricopa Community Colleges.

After two decades of teaching, the renowned teacher will be retiring after the 2013-14 school year. However, Dr. Callahan is not ready to leave her program behind. “I want to continue to do Prague because it is just so close to my heart,” says Callahan

Dr. Callahan will continue to lead students to Prague, even after she retires. “I would be heart-broken,” says Callahan, if the program were to dissolve.

. “Through the Holocaust Studies course she taught in Prague, Dr. Callahan was always striving to impart her knowledge of the Holocaust, and her deep compassion for those who are no longer able to speak for themselves,” says Howard. “I have always been most impressed with Ruth’s enthusiasm for life and learning and her extremely positive nature,”

Not only is Dr. Callahan positive and passionate about her studies, but her students as well. “She brings an enthusiasm to her students” says Bus. “She has always shared with them her excitement about learning.”

Her teaching also expands to places other than GCC. “It is noteworthy that she has dedicated a good portion of her teaching career to Zachor [Holocaust Remembrance Foundation] — to remembering the Holocaust,” says Howard.

Previously, she has been presented the Shofar Zachor award by the Phoenix Holocaust Survivals’ Association.

“Ruth, you have enabled students to confront the past through active learning and an increased awareness of the great European Jewish civilization that was lost forever,” says Elaine Hirsch, member of the Bureau of Jewish Education, as she presents the Shofar Zachor award to Dr. Callahan: according to the PHSA website.


This inspiring teacher has provided several students the opportunity to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust in a shocking, historical environment. “This year, students said how fortunate they were to do this, how privileged they felt,” says Dr. Callahan.

Her contributions toward both GCC and study abroad will be remembered, even after her retirement.

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