What university did you attend?
I attended the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland for my undergraduate education and my magister degree. Then, I got an M.A. from the University of Northern Iowa, and a Ph.D. from Illinois State University.
Do you have any study abroad or international experiences? Can you elaborate?
I was born and raised in Poland. I originally came to the United States as an international student in 1997 to get my M.A., then I came back in 2001 to pursue my Ph.D., and eventually I decided to live and work here. I have visited over 20 countries throughout my life. When I was a child my parents took me travelling all over Europe every summer, so I really caught that wanderlust bug from them. Recently, I haven’t been able to travel much because my children are still too young, and I have to admit I’m getting a little restless.
Can you speak another language besides English? Is there one that you would love to learn?
Polish is my native language. I also know some French, though I used to speak it much better, and I wish I had time to brush up on it. When I was a student in Poland, I had some basic education in Russian, Latin and modern Hebrew. I would love to study many more languages, but my top choice would be Spanish. Whenever I see a Spanish text I’m surprised at how much of it I can understand without any prior knowledge, so I have an impression that it would be easy for me to learn.
What attracted you to working at Global Education?
When I studied at Illinois State University, I was part of a vibrant international community of students from all over the world. This was a very impactful part of my education, and I feel that I learned as much from interactions with my international friends as I did from my academic courses. That’s why I welcomed the opportunity to join Global Education and help further its goals of internationalizing the campus. I would love to expand MU’s international community and give all MU students a similarly enriching experience as the one I had at Illinois State. My other motivation for joining Global Education was simply to give back. I am well familiar with the challenges of being an international student in the US, and I thought I would be in a good position to advise MU’s international students.
What are your goals for Global Education?
Even though our office is more engaged than ever with the university community, I would still like us to develop a stronger connection with MU students and faculty, and to encourage them to recognize internationalization as a valuable component of academic experience. I would also very much like us to engage with the Lancaster community; I think we should take advantage of the creative and educational potential of the diverse groups of residents in our area.
What has been your most rewarding project that you’ve worked on for Global Education?
I love the monthly Tea Time with Global Education, a social hour that I launched with the help of Global Education staff. Because so much of our social interaction happens online these days, I really cherish the opportunity to personally connect with MU students, faculty and staff who are interested in international issues. I have a real sense of community during these monthly gatherings – people coming together to spend time with each other, share stories about their cultures as well as delicious international snack and beverages. Another most rewarding part of my job is the day-to-day help I provide to MU’s international and study-abroad students. It’s great to be able to fix the little problems that make student lives difficult: whether it’s issues with the transfer of credit, adaptation to different education systems, or helping students feel comfortable in a new culture.
If you could travel somewhere new, where would you go and why?
I would really like to go to Cuba. I love Cuban music and literature; authors like Reinaldo Arenas, Cristina Garcia or Jesus Diaz have already painted a pretty vivid picture of the country in my head and I would like to see it for myself. I also hope that one day I can travel to Haiti. In my academic work, as a professor of English, I focus on African diaspora literatures and cultural translation, and through my research I’ve discovered some fascinating connections between Haitian history and the history of my native country, Poland. I would like to conduct on-site research about this topic at some point.
What is an interesting fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
During my student days I used to support myself translating books from English into Polish. I am the author of one of the Polish translations of Anne of Green Gables. Another popular book I translated is Koji Suzuki’s The Ring, which was the basis of the well-known horror film. This was a second-hand translation because the original book is written in Japanese. I do not fully support this kind of publishing practice, but at that time I was a poor graduate student and the task was not only profitable but also enthralling.
What advice do you have for students thinking about studying in another country?
Do some research about the country you plan to study in. Read books, watch films, talk to people who come from there. This will enable you to get the most out of your time in the foreign country and will also help you avoid some awkward situations. But you should also be willing to accept surprises. No matter how much you research another culture, you will get to know it well only by living in it, which is one of the great benefits of study abroad experience.