Education professor travels to Romania for Fulbright Teaching Scholar grant

Most people have, at some point, wanted to travel around the world, whether it’s to a specific destination for a dream trip, or simply just to live a life traveling all over. Some have even felt called to travel for ministry purposes. For Laura Jones, she was able to travel many times to Romania with her family to be a part of God’s calling and ministry.

 Jones, a professor in the School of Education, has visited Romania multiple times, more recently this past spring semester. She traveled to Romania on a five-month teaching grant from Fulbright called the Fulbright Teaching Scholar grant. She stayed there from February to July, teaching courses at Babes-Bolyai University.

“The goal was to teach and discuss education with the educators there and help them prepare their teachers for future education,” Jones said.

Jones’s research specifically focused on the growth mindset theory in education. While in Romania, she mostly helped teachers incorporate the theory into their educational system.

“I think the key to changing education is to first change the teachers,” Jones said. “If I can change the teachers and get them to think about education differently, I could get them to challenge students who aren’t otherwise challenged.”

Romanian education has been trained under communist ideals, and their teachers are still trained under communism. It has taken many years to break away from old communist styles of teaching. Jones hoped to bring some new ideas to the table for them to use in rebuilding their educational approach.

This past spring, Jones traveled with her husband, Michael, a philosophy professor at Liberty, who was a dependent on his wife’s grant. He was able to go with all fees paid for, and while there, he worked with the Department of Philosophy.

While Jones went with the expectation of teaching, she ended up being a guest lecturer and conference speaker as well. In total, she spoke at four conferences; two international conferences and two local ones. Also, she spoke at five universities and a few local high schools.

“They thought it would be better for me, instead of just having one class with 20 students, to be able to speak to multiple courses and share different things with them,” Jones said.

On the ministry side of things, Jones and her team were able to help and support a pastor by serving with his church while they were there. They also attended and participated in a Romanian church.

When it came to adapting to a new country, Jones didn’t have much of a challenge. She had been traveling to Romania for about 25 years and even lived there for three before this past spring semester, so she knew the language and culture well. However, the Jones couple was in a city they had not been to for about 22 years, so that in itself was a bit challenging, but it was also fun for her to reconnect with people from her time there long ago. 

“It was great to be challenged in new ways academically and also open doors for some new ministries,” Jones said. “It kind of just encouraged me to want to go back again, realizing the time invested in learning and making contacts makes me want to continue those contacts and relationships that we’ve built.”

Pickard is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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