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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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New Prof. Khactu Shares His Passion

By Linnea Hurst

When asked what animal he would like to be, Khactu laughed and declared that he would want to be a meerkat.

“They are so social, they live in colonies–I would just get to hang out!” Khactu said.

Khactu comes to Grinnell this year as a new Instructor in English. His enthusiasm, paired with his genuinely thoughtful answer to this silly question, embodies the way he approaches life–with passion.

Khactu attended Stanford University as an undergraduate and went on to receive a M.A. in Creative Writing from Temple University. He is currently completing a PhD in English, with a certification in Cinema Studies from University of Pennsylvania, where he previously taught.

Although he always enjoyed the idea of teaching, Khactu didn’t know right away that he wanted to be a professor. He tried several career paths before realizing that he wanted to pursue his love of literature and English in a classroom setting.

“After college, I taught English in Vietnam for almost two years, which really helped me improve my teaching,” he said. “After my work in Vietnam, I worked at various non-governmental organizations in the United States.”

Khactu soon recognized that the best way to follow his passions was by becoming a professor. However, he also wanted to find a special place at which to teach.

“I watched my friends go off to teach at bigger schools, but realized I wanted to teach at a smaller liberal arts college,” he said. “I think the connections between teachers and students at schools like Grinnell are much greater. There’s more room for mentorship.”

Although Khactu just moved to Grinnell at the end of July, he already has many other good things to say about Grinnell–both the College and the town.

“I really love that everyone has been so welcoming,” Khactu said, “and all the students are so energetic and engaged.”

Khactu understands the passion students at Grinnell show for their subjects. He was quick to point out that he is not only passionate about literature in general, but specifically about Ethnic American literature.

“Lots of people often forget the concept of race really constitutes American literature,” Khactu explains. “Race has always been a part of our history. For example, some of the earliest American literary works were Native American texts.”

Khactu is excited to teach an English 232 course in the spring entitled “The New Americans,” focusing on how race has impacted American Literature.

Khactu lives in downtown Grinnell, and is looking forward to exploring the town more, especially local thrift shops, movie showings, and the local ice cream scene.

“I’ve heard so much about [Dari Barn]! I haven’t gone yet, but I will soon,” he said.

While some of his favorite movies of all time include Ran, a Japanese retelling of King Lear set in Samurai period, and The Conversation, a suspenseful spy flick, his favorite movie of this summer was Fast Five. In fact, Khactu admits that he loves all movies.

“I will go see Transformers, but also go see a heavy art film,” he said. “I like anything.”

Grinnell will surely benefit from Khactu’s unique interdisciplinary approach to teaching English, his charisma and enthusiasm, while Khactu will benefit from the Dari Barn treats in his future and all that Grinnell College and community have to offer.

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