Interview with Amanda Lagji and Leo Kajfez ’22


Professor Amanda Lagji: Hi! I’m so happy to introduce Leo, one of the students I’ve had the pleasure to teach at Pitzer College. Leo is an English and World Literature and American Studies double major. And a fun fact about Leo is that he wrote a stellar paper in my first year seminar “Women of World Literature,” and he revised it into a paper that he gave last year at the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association conference where he presented along with graduate students and professors.

Leo: Great! I’m really happy to introduce Professor Lagji. I’ve taken a lot of courses with her, some of them are Women and World Literature, World Literature in an Oceanic Context, and Post-Apartheid Novels, and I’ve also seen her progress on her upcoming book which is Waiting for Now, Post-Colonial Fiction and Colonial Time.

Professor Lagji: Leo, I know you’ve taken a lot of my courses, but as a rising junior, you’ve also taken lots of courses at Pitzer so I’m wondering, from your perspective as a student, what are some of the things that are distinctive about Pitzer courses?

Leo: I think that taking a Pitzer course is a unique experience and it’s even distinct from taking a course at the other 5 colleges which I’ve had the privilege of doing at the consortium. I think what makes it so distinct is the emphasis on transferring in-class education to community praxis. I mean, it’s one of our core values but I think that it’s taken beyond just a statement of intent, and there are so many opportunities to think about and enact change in the Claremont community or wherever you are based on what you’ve learned in your class, and I think that’s really great.

Professor Lagji: That’s really cool.

Leo: What are you excited about in the coming fall?

Professor Lagji: There’s a lot. So, one of the things I’ve enjoyed is adapting my courses and really challenging myself. One of the things that we do at liberal arts schools is to really think creatively about the world. And so, one of things this pandemic has done is to make us really be creative and innovative in adapting the things that we do in the classroom. One of the things that I won’t do is that I won’t compromise rigor, or content; that won’t ever change. But I’m really exploring and harnessing the technologies, thinking carefully about how to adapt some of the technology we already use, like our learning management systems, or Zoom, to make sure that we still have the things that make us Pitzer and to still make it a liberal arts classroom.

The mentorship, the investment in my students and their education, in the classroom but beyond the classroom, we really get to know you. These are small classes, they’re not cookie cutter classes or a learning factory. This is what we do. And the second thing that is really exciting to me is the students. I’ve been honored to talk to a bunch of first-year students just yesterday, and they’re so excited, enthusiastic and sharp. So, I can’t wait to get back in the classroom, whether the classroom looks like this, or whether it’s that physical classroom. I can’t wait to get back in it.

Leo: Yeah, I totally hear you. I think for the fall, the increase in Zoom literacy, I’m looking forward to. I mean, I know that the transition was abrupt, and it was hard for the spring, I feel like that’s true for everyone, whatever stage they are in their education. That shift was sudden, but I think that given the planning, what students are doing, and faculty are doing, and staff; I’m really excited for people to turn their cameras on and try to simulate an in-person experience as much as possible and also, you know, take advantage of this new format and maybe do cool new things.

Professor Lagji: Absolutely. I firmly believe that constraints and creativity go hand in hand. So, I can’t wait to be back and I’m looking forward to seeing you back on campus!