Visiting The Jan Kochanowski University

Visiting The Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce, Poland

by Ekrem Şimşek 

I had been trying to arrange a visit to The Jan Kochanowski University with Agnieszka Szplit for literally years. She had been working with some of our colleagues before and visited Sabancı University some time ago.  For several reasons, the visit had to be postponed.  This time, I was determined to do it but again we started with problems.  Since the visit was going to be in the Erasmus Staff Mobility scope, the communication had to be carried out through the International Offices of both universities. The problem, this time, was that the receiving university’s contact person suddenly quit the job and the communication was delayed.  Anyhow, after a long process of arranging the documents the visit was approved.  In the meantime, Agnieszka informed me that her university was organizing a conference on Life Long Learning and encouraged me to do a presentation.  That would be “killing two birds with one stone” and I agreed.  I also chose the spring break for us so as not to cancel classes in my timetable.  Here are my impressions on the conference and Erasmus visit to the Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce:

Lifelong Learning- Areas, Trends, Tendencies. 

The conference was organized by The Jan Kochanowski University, Vocational Training Centre in Kielce and Jurij Fedkowycz University in Chernivtsi, Ukraine and the two-day conference started at the main campus of the university with the Rector’s welcoming speech.  The participants came from different universities from Poland and there were presenters from Belarus, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. Some of the titles for presentations were: Lifelong Teaching: problems and perspectives of self-realization of the elderly, The Meaning of Art Therapeutic Intervention for Elderly People in Different Life Situations, Practical Training of Teaching Staff in Colleges in Conditions of Innovative Reforms of Education, Forms and Methods of Professional Training for the Specialists of Preschool Institutions…

My presentation was titled as Learning and Earning without Paying- a success story from Istanbul and it was on the second day of the conference.  This time the venue was different; the presentations were held in a hotel.  Luckily, Kielce is a cute, small city and you can reach almost everywhere on foot.  My presentation started off with the background information on LLL and the need for it in modern times- because of the aging population and changing nature of business, etc.  I finally rounded up my presentation with some courses from İSMEK, which provides training for free.  I had arranged several meetings with the program coordinator of this successful institution before writing my paper.  The audience was interested to hear about the variety of courses offered and the fact that all of them are free of charge.  I shared some statistics about the attendants and employment opportunities for them.  

Erasmus Staff Mobility

It is a nice change to teach in a different environment.  Although the process has challenges, my experience in Kielce was certainly positive.  I had asked about the profile of the students and the kind of teaching materials to use in class and come to an agreement about the plan for the week.  I learnt that my students would be future preschool teachers so I included variety of skills to explore with them.  The students’ interest and enthusiasm were motivating and I was happy to see that the lesson plans suited them.  I could see they were especially focused on the practical ways of presenting and practicing language skills.   

During the breaks we also chatted about their daily life in Kielce and their plans for the future.  They were especially curious about student life in Turkey and they wanted to learn about the programs at Sabancı University.  All in all, my visit to Kielce was a memorable one in many ways and I am grateful that my institution encourages this type of cooperation with other universities in Europe.