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University News

Professors To Spend Four Weeks in Thailand as Part Of Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad


From Dateline (October 23, 2003)

Ellen Junn, associate dean of the College of Human Development and Community Services, and Jeffrey Kottler, chair and professor of counseling, review paperwork related to upcoming faculty travel to Thailand. The duo are part of a 14-member campus contingent that will visit Thailand as part of Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad. In addition to studying a wide range of topics while in the country, faculty members also will be making presentations before Thai colleagues.

In late December, 14 professors will embark on a voyage to Thailand for four weeks as part of Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad.

While there, they will study Thai education, health care, mental health and wellness systems, as well as Thai culture and customs. The group hopes to share their knowledge and insights to better enhance cultural awareness, and enrich university programs and curriculum.

“Of course, we have had faculty members visiting foreign countries as Fulbright scholars,” said Ellen Junn, associate dean of the College of Human Development and Community Service and co-author of the grant funding the project. “But this is the first time we’ve sent a group of this size and diversity. Thailand was a natural because Cal State Fullerton has formal agreements with Thai universities in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen. Our goal is to share knowledge and expertise between our two countries.”

Jeffrey Kottler, chair and professor of counseling, grant co-author and a two-time Fulbright scholar (in Peru and Iceland), participated in a similarly sized group to Singapore and Malaysia while at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Since joining CSUF three years ago, he has wanted to form another group to travel abroad.

Now that time has arrived – supported by $62,000 from the U.S. Department of Education.

To prepare for the trip, faculty members have been meeting regularly, getting to know one another and learning more about their host country, its culture, customs and what they may expect.

“What I find interesting is seeing the way relationships develop among the faculty members,” said Kottler, author of the book, Travel That Can Change Your Life: How to Create a Transformative Experience. “What is so intriguing about travel is your approach to it. Here we have a group of people, who in many cases, don’t know each other very well, and they’re thrust together – living together, eating together, working together – and they have to adapt to a new place at the same time. You often build deep bonds with colleagues by facing such challenges together.”

Not only will the participants be living with each other, in some instances, they will be staying with local families.

“We have an extensive itinerary,” said Kottler. “In addition to attending lectures and symposia, we will have experiential activities: working in rice paddies, helping in a soup kitchen, visiting hospitals and schools, working with our Thai counterparts to better understand their cultures and traditions. We also will have time to attend cultural events and meet with local people.

“The point is to better understand this culture and, in doing so, become more aware of the needs of our foreign students,” he explained. “Often when you’re the stranger in a different country you realize how difficult it may be for immigrants to our country.

“We also will be making presentations about how our educational, health care and mental health systems work in America.”

Participating faculty members are: Leslie K. Grier, Child and Adolescent Studies; Leah M. Brew, Joseph M. Cervantes and Kottler, Counseling; Linda C. Orozco, Educational Leadership; Kristine Dennehy, History; Timothy J. Brazill, Human Services; Vincent C. Merrill, Kinesiology and Health Pro-motion; Jo-Anne C. Andre and Marilyn J. Stoner, Nursing; and Dawn L. Anderson, Ellen Kottler, Fred Y. Ramirez and Lynda E. Randall, Secondary Education.

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