International professor teaches international professionalism

Dr. Heljä Antola Crowe (front row, far right) with the EHS 300 International Panel.

April 29, 2011

ETE professor Dr. Heljä Antola Crowe knows the struggles and opportunities of studying and working in an unfamiliar country. She grew up in Finland and traveled to the United States as an exchange student at age 17. She moved to the U.S. permanently 24 years ago. As a Bradley professor, she has helped foreign exchange students adjust to life in the U.S., and she has been a host mother for exchange students for nine years.

These experiences have given Dr. Antola Crowe a deep level of understanding of other cultures and make her uniquely suited to teach EHS 300, “Professionalism Across Cultures.”

The course, first offered five years ago, teaches students in the EHS Global Scholar programs how to work with others across cultural boundaries. Dr. Antola Crowe collaborates on the course with four other EHS professors: from family and consumer sciences, Professor Kendra Brandes; from nursing, Dr. Deborah Erickson; from leadership in education, human services and counseling, Dr. Robert Davison Avilés; and from physical therapy, Dr. Dawn Hall.

Bradley students interact with a panel of international student visitors and engage in a wide variety of activities designed to enhance the students’ cultural awareness and their ability to work with diverse groups of people.

The students meet with foreign visitors on campus and present their findings from study abroad courses. They learn the different aspects of cultural identity through unusual events like a cultural potluck dinner, where each student is challenged to bring in a dish of food that defines his or her background.

“We’re creating a venue for them to share their experiences,” said Dr. Antola Crowe.

The course helps students to put their own cultural background in an international context. They learn from each other and gain knowledge and opportunities that most students never pursue.

Dr. Antola Crowe noted the personal growth the students develop and the new understanding of the world they gain through the course.

“The most valuable learning they do involves themselves,” she said. “Where you expect differences, you find similarities.”