Eastern Bloc Adventures

May 22, 2014

By Matt Hawkins

Dr. Nancy Sherman will spend the 2014-2015 school year exploring counseling issues in the Russian Federation city of Kaliningrad as a Fulbright Scholar. With previous Fulbright ventures in Latvia and Romania, the year will provide another perspective on life in the former Eastern Bloc.

Sherman, a professor in the Department of Leadership in Education, Human Services, and Counseling, will teach substance abuse prevention and counseling as well as career counseling at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University. In addition she hopes to provide faculty and treatment professionals with valuable training to address concerns in a country whose population struggles with alcohol and drug addiction.

“In all post-Soviet countries, mental health is truly a new field,” she said. “This is a chance to make a difference since our mental health system is well-established.”

Sherman will also work to provide opportunities for her Bradley students to learn a global perspective in counseling.

“It will be so neat for our grad students to be exposed to other grad students in the same profession,” she said. “They have the same goal of helping people develop emotionally and psychologically, how they operationalize that may be very different.”

Sherman will face new challenges during this venture. Unlike her 2001-2002 trip to Latvia and 2008 trip to Romania, she won’t be in a country where English is widely understood. She believes learning Russian is even more challenging than some other languages since they use the Cyrillic alphabet.  Additionally, she will face cultural and governmental expectations set by Moscow’s influence instead of the European Union.

And, as is often the case for Fulbright ventures, she will help students understand American culture beyond the American entertainment they consume.

“They have stereotypes about Americans because they watch our TV and movies and listen to our music,” Sherman said. “We know many of these images may not be representative of the average Peorian or American.”

Beyond the new learning environment, Sherman will be able to reconnect with former students, colleagues and professionals she met in her previous Fulbright trips. Those relationships have become valuable to her growth over the past decade.

“Continued relationships with people in those countries makes the world a lot smaller,” she said. “Staying connected allows me to grow in my own professional development, to see how things are changing and how I can continue to be helpful to them.”

Bradley has 11 Fulbright Scholar faculty on staff. It is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.