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Professors teach in three countries

From Bowling Green to Greece, Poland, Austria, and more, some of the University professors have had the opportunity to teach and study internationally through the Fulbright Program.

The Fulbright Program is a competitive scholarship that allows American students, scholars, teachers and professionals to teach and study abroad, according to the Fulbright Scholar Program information webpage.

Of the 310,000 individuals that have completed the Fulbright Program since its establishment in 1946, Marc Simon, David Jackson and, most recently, Elaine Lillios are among several University professors who have been awarded this scholarship.

“It was a very special trip for me, a way to connect to a country that I have known my entire life, but I haven’t lived in. And to connect with family that I have known of my entire life, but have only met once,” said Lillios, an award winning electroacoustic music composer and music composition and theory professor.

“I went to Greece with the purpose of teaching people in Greece about music technology,” she said.

Lillios taught and performed research in Thessaloniki, Greece from early January to mid June of this year.

In addition to her guest lectures, Lillios was also teaching six hour workshops once a month. She taught a total of four workshops and was impressed with the performance of Greek students.

“The students are unbelievable. I was giving six hour workshops. One day, six hours. We would work three hours, take a one hour break, and then work another three hours. No one ever fell asleep, no one ever checked out, the students paid attention. They never got confused.” Lillios said.

The students in her workshop were taking the course optionally, as it was offered on a Saturday. They were a part of her workshop in addition to studying full time at their university, because most greek universities do not have music schools.

In addition to her teaching, Lillios and her husband also made sure to enjoy the nature of Greece.

“Every day my husband and I, one of our goals was to go for a walk by the sea. We went almost every day we were in Greece, just to get exercise and just to be out by the sea, because we can’t do that here in Bowling Green,” she said.

Walking by the sea is a very popular activity for the people of Greece, as it is a part of their laid back lifestyle.

“Greek people are very serious, but they’re also very laid back. I think they have a much more healthy approach to living then we do in the United States,” Lillios said.

“I just worked all the time and I’m trying to change. I’m trying to be a bit

more Greek.”

Jordan Richards, a senior music recording technology minor at the University, who has taken courses offered by Lillios and still is in contact with her today, discussed having her as a professor.

“Out of the four plus years of being in college, Lillios is my most favorite and one of the best professors I ever had. She is an expert in what she teaches and she teaches well. She deserved the Fulbright scholarship to which she was in Greece for quite awhile, where she taught classes and focused on productions of her own. It’s great that the music department here has a professor like Lillios that was awarded the Fulbright,” he said.

Jackson, an associate professor in the department of political science, was awarded the Fulbright scholarship in October of 2007 to February of 2008.

Jackson applied for the scholarship specifically because he wanted to teach in Poland.

While at the University of Łódź, he taught American studies, intro to American government, politics and mass media and Canadian government.

The classes in Poland only meet for an hour and a half, once a week. Also, the only grade students receive for the class is the grade they earn on their final exam.

“These two or three female students came up to me afterwards and said, ‘Can you, instead of putting all essay questions on the exam, put some multiple choice questions?’ I wondered why they wanted that so I asked,” he said.

The female students explained that the male students, who had copied their homework and notes throughout the year, could more easily write nonsense in an essay and receive a C, but if they were asked fact based questions they would not be able to answer them correctly.

“They wanted me to punish the male students who would sort of leach off them,” Jackson said. “I’ve never had a conversation where students have asked me to make the exam harder to punish other students in the class.”

This interaction with students was not the only experience that Jackson had in Poland that was different from what he has experienced in America.

“People definitely have a different perception of private space. They’re definitely more likely to be close to you. They stare at you, especially if you’re different,” he said.

“They call us, I think crocodiles, because we’re always smiling. They never smile.”

For more information on Jackson’s experiences in Poland through the Fulbright Program, you can read his book on the experience called, “Classroom and Barrooms: An American in Poland.” It is available in the BGSU library.

Dr. Marc Simon, associate professor, acting chair in the department of political science and coordinator of peace and conflict studies at BGSU, said, “I was looking for someplace where I could teach and do research with some colleagues in Europe and get networked over there. And I’d heard a lot about the Fulbright Program, I’ve known several faculty who’ve done it. It pays well, it’s well respected and I really like the idea of the Fulbright.”

He applied to travel to Austria because of his past experience with the country.

From 1996 to 1998, Simon did a sabbatical in Salzburg, Austria through BGSU’s study abroad program.

Through the Fulbright Program, he taught theories of international relations, global environmental policy and foreign policy analysis at The Diplomatic Academy of Vienna from March to June of 2007.

The Diplomatic Academy of Vienna is a graduate school located in Vienna, Austria that trains diplomats who will go back to their countries to work in foreign services for their country.

Simon’s students were from a diverse range of locations including Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.

In addition to his work with students, Simon also had the opportunity to give several lectures to the diplomatic community.

“The diplomatic academy puts on lectures and I got to give some lectures to that community. I got to meet quite a few diplomats and people who work in the field, and I got to learn a lot from them. I think that was one of the professional benefits for me, that I got to learn from them,” he said.

In addition to professional benefits, Simon also said there were personal benefits involved with his experience of the Fulbright Program.

“I have some family that lived in France and I got to reconnect with them while I was over there,” he said.

Also, the Fulbright Program encourages scholars to bring their families with them, so Simon brought his wife and three children. While in Austria, his youngest son went to grade school and learned quite a bit of German.

“I teach international politics so it’s important for me to get out in the world, and the Fulbright is what allowed me to do that. And not just do that by myself, but with my family which was really a real benefit,” he said.

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