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CIT Professor Shares Her Fulbright Scholar Experience Teaching Abroad a Year in Russia

Teaching in Russia last year as Lone Star College-CyFair’s first Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program  recipient and Bashkir State University’s first African American faculty member was an experience that Katrevia Jones Munroe will not soon forget.

When Munroe received the news that she was a 2009-2010 Fulbright Scholar, she said she was honored, excited and extremely nervous. After nearly a year immersed in the Russian culture, she returned home with rich experiences educationally, socially and professionally.

 “The Fulbright award has enhanced my professional growth by supporting future partnerships between LSC and Russian universities for future student exchange programs and professional development pedagogical trainings in the field of computer science at Europe’s top universities, all of which contribute to making me a better instructor,” said Munroe, LSC-CyFair’s Computer Information Technology (CIT) department.

“Educationally, my goal in Russia was to teach computer science students how to be globally competitive in Russia and the United States. Due to the observational data and empirical data collected in my classes, I feel that I have reached that goal,” said Munroe. “I did what I said I would do and I achieved everything with exception of creating partnerships with companies for summer student internships (which she admits was a lofty goal) due to the language barrier and time.”

Adapting to teaching at Bashkir State University as well as living in Ufa, Russia was challenging in many ways from the language, as Munroe was not assigned a translator until her third week in Russia, to the cultural issues.

In the classroom, Munroe faced major curriculum adjustments not only due to insufficient hardware to run software required for the class on the computer lab’s seven computers, but also upon realizing that 90 percent of the 85 students enrolled in her C # programming course were math majors.

Outside the classroom, Munroe said she lived some of the stories her dad told about racism he experienced in Midland, Texas’s first integrated class. And while she’s experienced racism, too, Munroe said the level of racism she and her family endured during their time in Russia took them to a dark place. 

“Socially, adaptation in Russia was an uphill battle that resulted in several bumps and bruises for me and my family. We were constantly exposed to racism and it was more than looks, it was very degrading comments and genuine concern about our safety,” said Munroe. “The positive side of living in Ufa has to be the lovely landscape and beautiful friendships I developed. Through these friendships, I learned the importance of empathy and courage, which gave me the strength to look beyond the ignorant few to see the good qualities in the larger mass.” 

Another positive is that through the Fulbright experience, between work, conferences and vacation time, she was able to travel to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Siberia, Berlin, Poland, Turkey, London, Germany and Egypt.

Back in the United States, Munroe has been formally documenting her experiences teaching and living in Russia as well as implementing the internationalized computer science curriculum at LSC-CyFair.  She plans to shatter some misconceptions her students may have about Russian people, their  lifestyles and the country itself, such as winter is not yearlong and not all Russians wear mink coats and fur hats, as well as to share opportunities and scholarships to study and earn program credit in a foreign country. 

To learn more about Munroe’s time in Russia, don’t miss International Education and Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 15 through Nov. 19 at LSC-CyFair. In addition to Munroe and other faculty sharing study abroad experiences in China, Italy, Sri Lanka and Korea, there will be films, book clubs, displays and an International Extravaganza. For information on international events, programs, scholarships and opportunities, go to LoneStar.edu.

For information on LSC-CyFair’s CIT program, contact Munroe at 281.290.3299 or via e-mail at Katrieva.S.Jones@LoneStar.edu

About the Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Each scholar is selected by a 12 person committee appointed by the President of the United States of America. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided recipients the opportunity to observe each others' political, economic, educational and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world's inhabitants. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.