Professor from Poland spends week at TJC

Dr. Ilona Biernacka-Ligieza has been a visiting professor this week at Tyler Junior College — far from her native Poland.

A professor of social science, Biernacka-Ligieza is on the political studies faculty at the University of Marie Curie Sklodowska in Lublin, Poland. She is visiting TJC through the Tyler Sister Cities initiative and the ERASMUS (EuRopean community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) program funded by the European Union.

Since September 2008, she has been the research fellow of the Institute of Media and Communication at the University of Oslo. She has also been a visiting professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Her research interests include local media; mass communication; new media; cross-cultural communication; journalism studies; local democracy; globalization; glocalization; media and politics; and media and identity.

During her week at TJC, she has lectured and observed in classes ranging from electronic media, media writing and speech communication to world geography, humanities and political science.

As part of a discussion in a TJC political science class, Biernacka-Ligieza gave students a firsthand view of her country’s political system, its relationship with neighboring Ukraine, their refugee crisis and Poland’s long history and relationship with Russia.

“[TJC] is an absolutely great place with wonderful students,” she said. “I’ve had a few classes so far, and the students were very interested in asking questions and their questions were absolutely gorgeous. In every class, they have asked so many questions. They are very open and very curious.”

This is Biernacka-Ligieza’s second visit to Texas.

“The first time, I went to Austin,” she said. “Austin is OK, but Tyler feels like the real Texas. I really love Texas and the Texan people. Tyler is beautiful and this college is magnificent.”

Visiting Professor from Poland

Dr. Ilona Biernacka-Ligieza (center) was introduced during a Sister Cities event held Wednesday evening in Tyler. Also pictured are Dr. Jeff Owens (left), TJC professor and chair of the TJC history/geography department, and Dr. Juan E. Mejia, TJC president and CEO.

Dr. Jeff Owens, TJC professor and chair of the history/geography department, has also been a visiting professor through the ERASMUS program.
“The benefits are that you get to go and see how people teach and do education in another country, and they get to come here and talk about what they do but also observe people teaching here,” Owens said.

Biernacka-Ligieza added, “Yesterday, I was observing Jeff and the way he creates a relationship with the students, the back and forth, the atmosphere and the sense of humor. That is what education should look like. It should be not about the PowerPoint presentation and talking through your slides. You have to be engaged and interact with your students, then you have a guarantee that your knowledge is spreading and stays in their minds. And if they are curious, it means you’re good at what you are doing.”

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