20 Questions: A sketch of Centre Spanish professor Genny Ballard

RELEASED: Nov. 30, 2006

DANVILLE, KY—1. Position/title: Assistant Professor of Spanish.
2. Hometown: Louisa, Ky.
3. Career highlight: Ah, that is easy–directing the Centre in Mexico program this fall has been incredible. Using Merida as a lab, my students learned things that I could never have taught them in the classroom. And I learned things about my students that I never hope to learn in a classroom.
4. Signature class: Hispanic Children’s Literature. I truly enjoy getting students to use their skills in a practical way, especially with young immigrants.
5. Recent publications: My book about children’s literature is placed with The University Press of Kentucky, and I have a new book chapter on food in Latin American children’s stories coming out next semester. I am also excited about a project I began this semester on magic and space in contemporary Mexican theater.
6. Family details: I'm the mother of two children, Isabelle, who is 12, and Matt, who is eight. They're flexible little monkeys that just go with the crazy flow of my life. They love eating in Cowan and playing with the crawdads in Young basement, and they always tell people about how Clarence Wyatt let them swim in the fountain in front of the Norton Center one summer day when it was really hot.  
7. Hobbies: Hiking and camping in the Red River Gorge, playing card games that require physical contact and psychotherapy.
8. Pets: I love labs, but we travel a lot, so I don't see any furry friends in our future.
9. Prized possession: I have a new pink mosquito net for my hammock, oh so cute and yet quite practical.  
10. Last book read: The last 50 books I read are children's books. But you don't mean those books do you? You mean big-kid books. Isn't it strange how the opposite of children’s literature isn’t adult literature, that is something else entirely, isn't it?  
11. Memorable trip: Ah, wow! I would've answered that differently a few weeks ago but the most incredible thing just happened. I took my students to Costa Rica where we hiked in the rainforest, zipped through the canopy of the cloud forest, swam in the Pacific Ocean and horseback rode in the shadow of a volcano. The most amazing of all was the time we spent playing with school kids in my Peace Corps site.
12. Favorite movies:Amores Perros, Miller's Crossing, Woman on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown and Reservoir Dogs, all early films of directors I respect. And shh! Don’t tell but I really have a thing for Bollywood lately.
13. Favorite album: On the play list that is playing right now I have The Cure, Death Cab, ABBA, La Oreja de Van Gogh, Daddy Yankee, Bloc Party and Evanescence. But what might be more interesting is that I hate the Beatles, and yet I have every Beatles song ever written on my iPod. I didn't always hate them. It came on suddenly, like a food allergy. So there they all are on my iPod just in case I get over my disdain for them.
14. Favorite foods: Avocados right off the tree, chicken khorma, pistachios and chocolate chicken (dark black mole). By the way, I'd be perfectly happy if I never cooked again so please invite me to dinner.
15. Favorite smell: Inspired by a touch of Kentucky nostalgia today, I'll say that I'm looking forward to the smell of sour mash, horse manure and mountain laurel. Ahh home.
16. Person you most admire: Marge Simpson–mother, social activist, and she looks awesome in a bandeau top. How does she do it?

17. Historical figure you'd most like to meet: If you are intolerant of cynics kindly skip to answer B.
A. This is a tricky question because immediately I thought, "What am I supposed to say? Pocahontas or George Washington?" This week I have been thinking about how ridiculous the concept of heroes is to me, especially national heroes. In fact, patriotism as a notion is becoming difficult for me to bear. Right now in Mexico they are celebrating the Revolution and so they are out of school again tomorrow. I think this is the fourth national holiday this month. Patriotism exhausts me.
B. Jorge Luis Borges
18. Living figure you'd most like to meet: Vice Presidential candidate Stephen Colbert.
19. What would you be doing if you weren't teaching at Centre? Trying to order food in languages that I don't speak.
20. Describe yourself in three words: In constant motion.



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