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Two TJC professors recently participated in a Sister Cities exchange program to Poland. Pictured from left: Dr. Jozef Zaprucki of Poland; Dr. Christine Melius of TJC; Dr. Jeffrey Owens of TJC; Jerzy Luzniak, president of Jelenia Góra; and Wei Jiangping from Jiangsu Province Changzhou Technician College.

Two Tyler Junior College professors recently took their teaching skills across the globe to Jelenia Góra, Poland.

Dr. Christine Melius, department chair of TJC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program, and Dr. Jeffrey Owens, chair of History and Government, participated in the “Erasmus+” program.

Erasmus+ is a European Union program, which provides grants for the exchange of college students and faculty. The overall goal is to promote the internationalization of education through exposure to colleagues from other countries and fresh teaching styles or methodologies of education.

The sister city relationship between Tyler and Jelenia Gora, which dates back to the early 1990s, was the basis of Karkonosze College selecting TJC to participate in the exchange. In addition to the two TJC professors, other participants took part in the exchange week, including educators from Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Latvia, China, Syria, Spain, Turkey and Bangladesh. Two of the Polish professors, Dr. Jozef Zaprucki (and wife Julita), and Professor Maciej Kolodziejski, visited TJC in 2018 as part of the exchange program.

Throughout the exchange week, Melius and Owens lectured to classes in their respective fields and interacted with faculty and students of Karkonosze College. They also attended school convocations, observed the presentations of visiting faculty, took excursions to historic and cultural sites, dined with participants in restaurants and in the home of one of the Karkonosze professors, toured a glass factory, and had a lengthy visit with the mayor of Jelenia Góra about the Sister Cities dimension of the trip.

Melius presented three topics to physical therapy students including “The Importance of Inter-professional Collaboration for Effective Healthcare” and “Utilizing Physical Therapy to Combat the Over Utilization of Opioid Medications,” topics which affect physical therapy clinicians globally; and “Arthrokinematics and their Implications for Treatment of Joint Dysfunction,” a foundational approach to the treatment of patients with joint dysfunction.

“The faculty and staff at Karkonosze College were wonderful hosts.The exchange was an amazing learning experience, especially in regards to understanding the history of the area, meeting colleagues from multiple countries and the exchange of ideas regarding physical therapy,” Melius said.

“The trip was a huge blessing. I am very grateful to have been selected to represent TJC with Dr. Owens,” she added.

Owens spoke on “A Comparison of Polish and Texas Nationalism,” and “The American Civil War: Why the South Seceded and Why the North Fought.” He chose the topic of nationalism because Texas is a state, which once was a country, and Poland is a country, which has passed in and out of existence as a nation-state. Both have a strong sense of pride and identity. Polish students were fascinated to learn aspects of Texas culture, as well as to see what aspects of Poland seemed notable to an outsider. Owens noted that while Texas has a great deal of pride, it is not truly a nation in the sense Poland is. The contemplation of “who is a Pole?” versus “who is a Texan?” furnished much food for thought. 

Of his experience with Erasmus, Owens said, “To me, the most important thing I learned was the realization that people from many countries and backgrounds can get along quite well. It was a life-changing event. Some of the people I met have become friends, and all of us came away with a greater degree of appreciation and respect for others not like ourselves. Christine and I were the only Americans included, which was because of the Sister Cities connection. I also want to give the highest praise to the administrators and faculty at Karkonosze College, and to the Erasmus coordinator, Kamila Biniek, who made us feel so welcome.”

For more information about the Jelenia Góra Sister Cities program, go to tylersistercities.org/jelenia.

For information on TJC, visit TJC.edu.