Shannon Michael “Mike” Wamser
An actor and theater artist by training and trade, Mike has also been working as an educator for over 25 years, and has proudly worked with Putney for nearly 20 of those years. Mike has been leading and directing programs for Putney Student Travel since 2005, when he led his first Putney program, Theater in Britain, which he was co-leader for from 2005 to 2011. He also led a Putney/National Geographic D.C. Summit several times. In addition to his time with Putney, he has worked and traveled extensively in Italy, first as an adjunct professor for University of Hartford, teaching on their Theater in Italy intersession program, and then as a student of Padova Arts in their Pedagogy of the Mask summer intensive. As a theater artist, he has worked as an actor, a writer, a director, a fight director, and producer, and as an arts educator has taught all ages, from kindergarten through college. He is currently a Professor with Molloy University/CAP 21's BFA Musical Theatre Program, where he teaches Actor Movement, Stage Combat, and Acting. He is also a member of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers, and serves on the governing body of Dueling Arts, International, a prestigious stage combat organization. You can find his movie, The Thing Before the Thing on Amazon Prime, which he wrote, produced, and starred in, and which was inspired by his long time work with the good people at Putney Student Travel.
Carla Debbie Alleyne
Carla has worked as a Center Manager, Director of Studies and teacher for ESL Summer Programs in the United States and Italy for the past ten years. She has a BFA and MFA in film and television from New York University, and by profession she is a playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker, director, administrator, and teacher. Carla has also earned a Master of Science degree in middle to secondary school education from Mercy College and she is certified in New York State as a teacher of English Language Arts, English as a Second Language and Drama. For three years, she has taught English and Drama at Frank D. Whalen Middle School in the Bronx, each year producing and directing both the Christmas and spring productions. She also taught high school for two years at New Visions Charter School. For the past eight summers, Carla has worked as a Center Manager to Embassy CES and Oxford House College ESL Summer Camps, structured for international students. In addition, she has worked as an administrator training teachers and developing curriculum at the Storm King Boarding School, where she utilized drama, dance, and performance to teach international students ESL.
Craig A. Masback
Craig has spent over 40 years working in and around sports as a professional track and field athlete, TV sports commentator who covered five Olympic Games for NBC, founder of an innovative sports marketing/sports media venture, lawyer, CEO of USA Track & Field, and senior executive at Nike. He has taught classes at Yale Law School and Stanford on sports law and sport and society. Craig has a special connection to Oxford, where he studied at Trinity College for two years as a Keasbey Scholar and ran his first sub-four-minute mile on the Iffley Road track, where Sir Roger Bannister ran history’s first sub-four.
While at Oxford, Michał focused on combining his architectural training with that of a writer and wrote his master's and doctoral theses on the relationship between architecture, film, and literature. During that time, he lived on a river boat; writers need adventures to write about, after all. In his architectural master's thesis, he focused on the conservation of Hu-Tong areas in Beijing, China, as well as on the relationship between urban structures and systems of government. After university, to develop as a writer, he underwent pilot training while working as ground crew and firefighter at an airfield. This experience provided the material for a collection of short stories, published in 2009 under the title “Entropie”. He then continued writing about space and society for journals and newspapers and worked as a broadcast journalist producing his own weekly cultural TV show. Michał now works as screenplay consultant and assistant director on feature films and had his acting debut on the silver screen in 2021, playing a doomed intellectual. Some say he only did it to let himself be killed on-screen. Michał is fluent in English, Polish, and German, and gets by reading novels in French and Spanish, occasionally trying to revive his rusty Latin by reading some of the lighter classics. This fall, Michał will be returning to the film set to work on a WW2 spy film to be shot in the Polish mountains, and a family drama to be shot in Croatia.
While at the University of Chicago, Vanessa first studied abroad in France and discovered the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. She returned a second time on a summer program with the Sorbonne and began a research project on France’s first historical museum and the emergence of contemporary notions of cultural heritage or patrimoine. She then went on to do a master’s and PhD in modern European History, writing a dissertation on the French branch of the 19th-century international peace movement in Europe and how it contributed to the beginnings of international civil society. She has taught for over 10 years in universities, including the American University of Paris and Sciences Po, and has also worked at UNESCO and as a museum educator. She is currently Head of Department and History-Geography Professor for a Cambridge program in a French high school. She speaks fluent French and basic German.
A native of Duluth, Minnesota, Bob has led student programs with Putney in France, Morocco, and Switzerland. Before joining Putney, he guided cycling trips in Europe, taught high school and college French, and interpreted for sports events in France and the United States. He speaks French, Spanish, and Italian, and is studying Moroccan Arabic. He currently organizes many of Putney’s programs in Europe. Bob is also a sailboat captain, landscape painter, EMT, and lifeguard.
While at Stanford University, Susannah studied social and cultural anthropology with a focus on visual arts and conducted fieldwork among the Chagga people of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. After graduating, Susannah was a curatorial researcher at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art for exhibitions on African feminisms and contemporary female artists. She then shifted to the Himalaya to conduct fieldwork for Umea University School of Business and Economics, studying decision-making in extreme environments while documenting mountaineers' ascents to Mount Everest's summit. She was a program director for Putney Student Travel for four years, overseeing programs in France, Nepal, and Bhutan, and leading programs in Thailand, Italy, and Greece. For the past three years she has been working as an education researcher in Bhutan, helping to build a new holistic education system for the Kingdom based in Bhutanese values and Buddhist philosophy.
Ziad is the Elliott E. Burdette Professor at the American University of Paris. He teaches history, politics, and international relations and writes on Lebanese, Syrian, and Arab affairs, as well as on regional political transitions and crises. After graduating in economics from the American University of Beirut, he obtained a master’s degree in Arabic literature, then a Ph.D. in political science from Sciences Po Paris. He has been involved since 1994 in research work and reform campaigns related to political processes, and legal and civil society causes in Lebanon and other Arab countries. For the last 20 years, he has been regularly publishing articles and papers in Arabic (in Now Lebanon, Al-Quds al-Arabi, Al-Hayat, Aljazeera Center, the Journal of Palestine Studies, Daraj and Megaphone) and in French (in L'Orient Littéraire, Mediapart, Le Monde, L'Express, Libération and AOC). He is a board member in Lebanese and French cultural institutes, a consultant for many international organizations, and a lecturer in international festivals and annual conferences. His books include Syrie, la révolution orpheline, published in Arabic, French, and—in an updated version—in German, and Dans la tête de Bachar Al-Assad (with Subhi Hadidi and Farouk Mardam-Bey) in French.
Lizzie Conrad Hughes
A lifetime theater professional—as an actor, writer, director, producer, and teacher—Lizzie is the founder and Artistic Director of Shake-Scene Shakespeare, currently the UK’s only cue-based teaching and performing company producing Shakespeare from cues only. Lizzie returned to academic study in her 50s and is researching a practice-led PhD (part time) at the Shakespeare Institute. Her experience as an actor, director, producer and book-holder for Shake-Scene, as well as her professional acting career, inform her research interests. Lizzie regularly runs workshops (in person and online) in the techniques required to make working from cued parts the vibrant acting experience it can be. Shake-Scene performed live cue-based productions from their creation in 2017 until the 2020 lockdown opened up the new medium of online theater. Twenty-nine full play performances later, as well as many performances of collected scenes, Shake-Scene are still performing regularly online, with an ever-growing international company, and recently returned to live performances with Much Ado About Nothing at the Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells.
While at Bowdoin College, Erica focused in English, creative writing, and environmental studies, and was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. Her honors project—a literary nonfiction work rooted in field work and interviews about the controversial return of wolves to the western United States—laid the groundwork for her debut book, Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear, which will be published in spring 2023 by Flatiron/Macmillan in the U.S. and Canongate in the U.K.. After Bowdoin, Erica worked in Italy as a co-producer of Amuri, a documentary about endangered Sicilian food traditions which premiered at the Oxford Food Symposium. She went on to get her M.F.A. in creative nonfiction at the University of Minnesota, where she was a College of Liberal Arts fellow and assistant editor at the Great River Review. The winner of awards and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Institute of Journalism and Natural Resources, and the Ucross Foundation, her published essays and journalism can be found in The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, WIRED, Outside, The Yale Review, and other publications. She has taught on a student writing trip in Oxford, as the 2019-2020 Writer-in-Residence with the National Writers Series in Traverse City, Michigan, and as a Writer-in-the-Schools in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where she now lives and works as a freelance writer, editor, and teacher.