Kim Hays (1983)

Journalist, Switzerland

My dissertation compared ethical behavior at two different types of boarding schools. As soon as my fieldwork at the schools was finished, I married a Swiss mathematician, Peter Stucker, and moved to Bern and here we still are, together with our son Thomas (born 1993). I wrote my dissertation in Bern and then turned it into a book, Practicing Virtues: Moral Traditions at Quaker and Military Boarding Schools, while working as a teaching assistant at the University of Bern sociology institute. To my amazement, eight years after its publication the book continues to interest people who work at boarding schools. Soon after it came out I was asked to speak to Quaker educators, and during the past year (2001-2002) I've spoken twice at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and once at The Hill School outside Philadelphia.

This recent attention to my book has been especially surprising (not to mention fun) because I no longer consider myself a sociologist. I left the Bern sociology institute when it became clear that I had no future there, took a few required education courses, and spent five years teaching English-as-a foreign-language to bright, university-bound teenagers at Literargymnasium. While I was teaching English, I began freelancing for an English-language newspaper and website based in Switzerland, and eventually I quit teaching to concentrate on writing. Today I have two regular columns in Swiss News, a monthly newspaper. I still teach one English class a week to adults, and I also freelance for a company called Cendant, which organizes cultural orientation sessions. They hire me on a regular basis to prepare either English-speakers for a move to Bern or German-speakers for a move to the US.

Although I don't 'do' sociology anymore, my work as a journalist and an inter-cultural consultant for Cendant uses all kinds of skills I acquired during my graduate-school days, particularly as an interviewer. Something else I still have from those days is an abiding affection for a number of the people who taught me, especially Robert Bellah, Neil Smelser, Ann Swidler, and Victoria Bonnell, and for the Berkeley friends I made, especially Lyn Spillman, Marty Gilens and his wife Janet Felton, Davida Weinberg, Elsa Tranter, and Claudius Ohder.

Dissertation Title: 
Practicing Virtues: How Moral Traditions are Lived at Quaker and Military Boarding Schools
Dissertation Book Title: 
Practicing virtues : moral traditions at Quaker and military boarding schools
Berkeley