University Relations and Communications
MSU Billings Professor Emeritus finishes Fulbright experience
Dr. Susan Barfield fulfills education expedition in Lithuania
University Relations and Communications, 657-2266
MSU BILLINGS NEWS—Dr. Susan Barfield, MSU BillingsEducational Theory and Practice Professor Emeritus, has recently returned from Vilniaus Kolegija (College of Vilniaus) in Vilniaus, Lithuania. She served there for six weeks as a Fulbright specialist.
Utilizing her abundant experience in cultural education, Barfield worked for the Fulbright Specialist Program, an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of State which selects U.S. faculty to serve for a period of two to six weeks at host institutions overseas. Being selected as a participant of this program as a Fulbright Specialist is highly competitive and continues to gain popularity each year. This year, specialists traveled to 162 different countries.
The honor of being a Fulbright Specialist is unique for each individual selected to participate, as each host institution has different needs and academic interests. For Barfield, her time included teaching a college education course on integrating culture into the classroom, presenting faculty workshops on student assessment, conducting teacher in-services on eBook development, and meeting with the Lithuanian Department of National Minorities to discuss educational issues and solutions.
“I was very fortunate to work with colleagues from Vilniaus Kolegija/University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Pedagogy, my host institution, especially my collaboration with Aušra Simoniukštytė, who was essential in interacting with Roma communities and schools,” said Barfield, “Her expertise and acceptance into Roma organizations was invaluable and she is a delight to work with.”
To leave behind a touch of U.S. culture during her travels, Barfield taught college students how to play baseball, how to Country Western line dance, and finished another tri-lingual children’s eBook.
This eBook features language in English, Lithuanian, and Romani and is the third trilingual book she has completed. It is based on a Roma folktale and illustrated by public school students. Currently, Barfield is taking on an additional trilingual book in Chile that is being funded by the National Geographic Society. Her eBooks are narrated in each language so teachers do not have to be fluent in each language in order to use it in their classroom.
“The purpose of all these books is to integrate a little of minority culture into majority curricula, allowing minority students to see their culture represented in a positive light as well as preserving their heritage language, and encouraging respect for different cultures,” said Barfield.
This is not Barfield’s first overseas education experience, as she has previously served as a Fulbright Scholar in Slovakia and continues to work on her fourth children’s book in Chile.
“I loved getting to know the Lithuanian people and culture and learning more about the Roma communities there,” explained Barfield.
Although she is a retired MSUB professor, Barfield’s passion for cultural education continues to burn brightly. She hopes that as our world evolves, it becomes more diverse and enriched with different cultures, making students more accepting of cultures different from their own. While teaching in Lithuania, Barfield taught on a variety of different cultures through interactive lessons and projects. Students were exposed to a multitude of different customs, issues, and linguistics from many cultures around the globe.
“The College of Education and Office of International Studies have been so supportive of my applications and activities; these projects would not have been possible without their backing,” said Barfield, “My experiences with the Fulbright Commission as a Fulbright Scholar with the Ministry of Education in Chile, the University of Prešov in Slovakia, and this Fulbright Specialist position in Lithuania, do not end once the grant has been completed.” Barfield has returned to work several times in Chile and Slovakia since her time there, and has already been asked to come back to Lithuania.
As her academic collaborations continue and expand, Barfield has played a part in preparing and assisting faculty interested in applying for the Fulbright program. Another MSUB professor applied for the program this year with the hope of contributing to the legacy Barfield has created here at MSUB and abroad.
For more information, contact Professor Emeritus Sue Barfield at (406) 657-2316 or SBarfield@msubillings.edu.