Professor from Poland lectures at Tyler Junior College through international exchange
TYLER, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - Faculty and students at Tyler Junior College are gaining a broader perspective on the world through an ongoing exchange partnership with Karkonosze University of Applied Science in Poland.
Located in Tyler’s sister city of Jelenia Góra, in southwest Poland, the public college of about 1,000 students offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the fields of applied sciences and the humanities.
Faculty from the two institutions participate in Erasmus Plus, an exchange opportunity funded by the European Union.
Most recently, TJC hosted a professor from Poland September 12-16 on the main campus in Tyler.
Professor Ilona Berniacka-Ligieza teaches journalism and media studies at Karkonosze. She spent the week lecturing in TJC classrooms, presenting her research to faculty members, and experiencing some of the “flavor of East Texas.” Her host arranged visits to a cattle auction in Quitman and a dairy farm in Sulphur Springs. Professor Berniacka also attended the Lindale vs. Gilmer high school football game.
After touring the KLTV studios in Tyler, Berniacka-Ligieza said she was eager to learn more about local journalism in America. She commented that it was her observation that local media exist to serve the public interest and play an important role in preserving the identity of their communities.
“Anytime I spoke to a journalist, they were talking about their job with such a passion and devotion, which is something unique. You feel that this is their life and they love what they are doing. They love people and reporting.”
Berniacka-Ligieza says sister city relationships such as the one between Tyler and Jelenia Góra are vitally important to both communities. She said these partnerships create a new sphere for collaboration through friendship.
“When you come and you see (Jelenia Góra), you discover something which you may love and which you may bring back to Texas and carry on cooperating and creating something new in the future.”
This faculty exchange got its start in the Summer of 2016, with an invitation from Karkonosze’s language department seeking a writer from East Texas who would visit Jelenia Góra. Two years later, two Polish professors visited TJC.
Then in 2018, Karkonosze hosted two more faculty members from TJC. Christine Melius, department chair of TJC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program, and Jeffrey Owens, chair of the History and Government department, completed an exchange week in Poland.
“They were kind of fascinated that we were so chatty and relaxed with students,” Owens said. “Because they tend to be more formal and you know, ‘I’m here and I’m going to tell you about this subject.’ Whereas, we believe that there ought to be a lot of class discussion and interaction and engagement. That was something that was a little bit new to them.”
Melius said she was interested to observe the differences in classroom instruction methods.
“I think there’s huge benefits. It’s just getting to see different approaches to education, to healthcare, to see how they engage with students. It was just a great experience.”
In addition to lecturing classes in their respective fields, Melius and Owens also attended school convocations, observed Karkonosze faculty in the classroom, and visited historic sites in Jelenia Góra. They also visited with the city’s mayor to discuss the sister city relationship with Tyler.
This week, representatives from the City of Tyler and the Tyler Sister Cities Organization are in Jelenia Góra to explore opportunities to bring the sister cities closer together. On Monday, the delegation visited Karkonosze University’s campus for a series of meetings with leadership and faculty. They also attended a class taught in English.
Jozef Zaprucki, a professor of Philology at Karkonosze, also gave a lecture on the influences of Polish, German, and American culture in the Lower Silesia region.
KLTV & KTRE anchor Lane Luckie is traveling with a delegation from the City of Tyler to its sister city in Poland to get a closer look at ties between the two communities and the impact of citizen diplomacy. Click here for more coverage.
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