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Spotlight on Walden // Jul 03, 2013

International Faculty Exchange

When Dr. Lianne “Lulu” Williamson, BS in Interdisciplinary Studies program director in Walden’s College of Undergraduate Studies, recently discovered that Honduras-based Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana (UNITEC), another member of the Laureate International Universities (LIU) network of higher education institutions, was seeking English-speaking faculty to teach at its campus, she realized this presented an opportunity for Walden faculty.

“It’s an exchange of education, culture, and educational practices,” says Dr. Williamson, who oversees the study abroad program. “It’s something that not only students should experience, but faculty as well. We decided to start small with a pilot program.”

In April, Dr. Eric Bliss, an academic coordinator and faculty member in the College of Undergraduate Studies, arrived in Honduras to teach. He’ll be at UNITEC through September, where he is teaching upper level English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to Spanish-speaking students.

“I’m very interested in international travel and experiences, and I was at a point in my life when I could volunteer to do this,” says Dr. Bliss, who is finding the experience he’s gained in five years at Walden applicable to teaching on campus at UNITEC.

Dr. Bliss explains that UNITEC courses feature traditional classroom study blended with online work. The software UNITEC students use to complete online activities provides reports to the instructors, much like MyLabs does in the math and science courses he teaches at Walden. Dr. Bliss notes that teaching at UNITEC is also introducing him to different educational technologies that could be helpful in Walden’s online classroom.

But more than anything else, he says, “I’m learning how a particular culture embraces different aspects of life and learning.”

Now that Dr. Bliss has come to Honduras, UNITEC is eager to have Walden faculty on campus every semester. In addition, other LIU network universities in China and Mexico are indicating that they might be interested in a faculty visitor.

“Now that we have a structure and have done it, we can apply it in other places. I’m hoping that other faculty will want to do it, too,” Dr. Williamson says.

“I know I’ll jump on the next international opportunity that comes up,” says Dr. Bliss. “The ability to work internationally in the Laureate network is truly a blessing and will lend me experiences that I can share through my teaching to help create social change in my work and life.”