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Thursday, May 05, 2011

SU Welcomes First J-1 Visiting Scholar

Dr. Valentin Serrano GarciaSALISBURY, MD---Dr. Valentín Serrano García wanted to be a teacher all his life.

That desire runs in his family.  His parents taught in small villages in the interior mountains of Spain. He is faculty at the University of Málaga, a public campus of over 14,000 in southern Spain.

This spring, Serrano is educating American students as Salisbury University’s first J-1 Visiting Scholar. He is teaching two classes in the Department of Modern Languages and Intercultural Studies.

“I want to understand how education works in other countries,” he said, explaining why he jumped at the chance to come to SU.

Serrano earned his Ph.D. and then taught art history at Málaga. At SU, he is teaching courses on topics including Spanish art and literature.

He said one of the joys of teaching at SU has been exposing American students to European perspectives and sharing insights that challenge what they thought they knew about Spain.

“I hope I have broadened students’ understanding of history and appreciation of art and literature,” he said.  “I try to speak in Spanish the whole class; it is good for them to hear a native tongue.”

Junior Barrett Inman, a Spanish and communication arts major from Nyack, NY, said Serrano brings “perspective and reality” into each lecture.

“Having an international teacher has helped me experience different ways of seeing the world,” she said. “The most important thing I have learned from him is that the truth is subjective and to always be open to multiple points of view.”

Outside of class, Serrano has explored East Coast cities, including Washington, D.C., where he visited museums and took photos of memorials to show students back in Spain. He also really likes SU’s idea of campus: “In Spain, the universities are part of old cities. This is what a ‘campus’ should be—a lot of green space.”

The J-1 program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The designation as an institution allowed to host exchange visitors with J-1 visas took SU about two years to obtain. Now, the University may welcome international faculty annually.

“Dr. Serrano and future international scholars help our students gain global perspectives without ever leaving Salisbury,” said Dr. Brian Stiegler, director of the Center for International Education. “He has done an excellent job as our first official J-1 visitor.”

For 10 years, SU has partnered with the Málaga campus on a summer program. Next fall, thanks in part to Serrano, the two campuses embark on a new partnership: a semester-long Salisbury Abroad exchange program. SU students will study in Spain, and Spanish students will study in Salisbury.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.



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