Scholars exchange culture, ideas

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In Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, a very common stress on migrants is the psychological effects that arise when splitting life between their native land and a foreign one. To better understand these strains and the effects they have, associate professor Robin Shallcross is teaching a three-week long psychology course on the topic in Mexico.
The project was made possible by Shallcross recently receiving the Fulbright Specialist Award, which allows grants for U.S. faculty and professionals to engage in two to six-week long projects in more than 100 countries worldwide. Shallcross’ project specifically focuses on the psychological impact living between two cultures has on both the individuals that leave, as well as the family that stays behind.
“There is considerable stress involved in the decision to migrate,” said Shallcross.  “Reasons run the gamut from economic to political.” Migrants living in a foreign country face issues such as fear of deportation, discrimination, language barriers and families that stay behind worry about things such as the safety and well being of their loved ones, and being dependent on money being sent home.
The psychology course Shallcross is teaching is being held at her host institiution, La Universidad Latina de América. Students are studying these effects and they will be going out to migrant communities to interview families about what services they would like to receive from Mexican psychologists.  Shallcross also added that the capstone project for the students will be to develop a job or a social service project for a Mexican psychologist, based on what they learn in this course.
Shallcross founded a Latino Bilingual track for Pacific’s School of Professional Psychology and in 2007 the Health Professions Campus in Hillsboro opened a bilingual mental health clinic and “each year we have grown the program in terms of therapy and assessment services, and now we are looking to strengthen the research component,” said Shallcross.
“Ideally, after I complete my project, Mexican psychologists and students can come to our Pacific campuses to exchange their ideas, scholarship and research with us,” said Shallcross.  “I’m hoping the prestige of the Fulbright name will open doors for us to continue future collaboration.”
Shallcross also said she’d like to see some connecting bridges come out of her project, and that it could open doors for the various departments at Pacific to collaborate. One example would be getting Spanish and psychology majors interested in applying to Pacific’s professional graduate programs to help further develop and refine their language and service provision skills.
Not only can faculty members be acknowledged by the Fulbright program but students as well.
Robin Huguenot-Noel was awarded a scholarship from the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program and he is currently working with the French language department. Huguenot-Noel is from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, located in the northeastern part of France, and is a graduate in political science and philosophy.
Huguenot-Noel said French students are excited to learn about his country’s culture and he does a variety of things to share his cultural background. He leads language table discussions, teaches a French cooking class, watches French TV commercials to analyze how they are different from the U.S. and how to recognize their target audience.  Huguenot-Noel also leads a French cultural night, where he talks about famous personalities from his country and talks about music and movies. These activities are designed to increase awareness about French society and its issues and to give students the keys to get integrated in France if they want to study abroad in the future.
From a professional point of view Huguenot-Noel said he is here to network because he would like to be a political science professor someday, make friends at the university and build bridges to make it easier to meet other people around the world.
In the time he has been here Huguenot-Noel said he feels like he belongs to a community, sharing the same experience with students being away from family and being able to share experiences with people from different backgrounds  “Fulbrighters have to be open minded, flexible, integrate into society and exchange culture,” he said.
Huguenot-Noel is taking courses in political science and English, in addition to being a teacher’s assistant, and one thing he noticed is how different the teaching styles are.
The teaching style in France is very frontal according to Huguenot-Noel; the professor would often speak one or two hours long and students don’t always exchange ideas.  He believes it’s much more effective to have many readings and then discuss them. In the classes he’s taken at Pacific, Huguenot-Noel feels like he has a goal at the beginning of class, he gets the impression of going forward and he feels more self-confident to speak.
Huguenot-Noel said he’s lucky to have the opportunity to come to the U.S. because he is from a small town where most people don’t move and this Fulbright scholarship has provided him this amazing opportunity to share his cultural experiences, and to increase international mobility, “I wanted to motivate people from the U.S. to study abroad because it changes your life,” said Huguenot-Noel.


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