Dec. 10, 2012
For one professor on campus, English is more than a subject – it’s an international business language.
Thomas Napierkowski, an English and Chaucerian professor at UCCS, recently returned from a trip to Romania, where he taught at a college as a part of the Fulbright Specialist Program.
Originally dismissing the notion, Napierkowski reviewed the offer and decided to take it, leaving shortly after the fall semester started.
Napierkowski traveled to Oradea, Romania, where he taught at Partium Christian University. He went to the school expecting to speak Romanian but discovered that much of the population consisted of Hungarians instead.
“I taught at a university in Romania that is actually financed by the Hungarian government for the Hungarian minority,” he said.
“It was like living in two worlds almost. At the university, people spoke Hungarian, and on the streets of the town, most people spoke Romanian.”
Napierkowski armed himself with an English-Romanian translation book, doing his best to speak the semi-native language. He was fortunate, though, to be instructing classes with students who could speak English fairly well.
“I taught three classes; one was a graduate class and two were senior classes,” he said. Napierkowski explained that the graduate students could communicate in English almost perfectly, but the undergraduate students varied.
“If I used a word they didn’t know, they would look it up in the dictionary and shout it out to the rest of the students,” he said.
Despite the language differences, Napierkowski said that the students were “remarkably like UCCS students.”
The classes Napierkowski instructed were aimed at facilitating the students’ English-language skills. “One class I was supposed to talk about English language and tourism. In the second class, I was supposed to talk about English language and management,” he explained.
To prepare for these objectives, Napierkowski contacted companies such as the Broadmoor and Disney to consult their methods of integrating international employees. “Whether it’s abroad or at home, English is an international business language,” he said.
Napierkowski would teach classes running two or three hours, addressing each student individually to understand their objectives in life.
Most students aimed to work in services that deal with “hospitality … airlines, travel, food services – things of that sort.”
It became Napierkowski’s job to teach the students the proper English vocabulary for dealing with the specified fields.
In addition to instructing at the Partium Christian University, Napierkowski went to the University of Oradea to give lectures about literature.
“They even let me give a lecture on Chaucer, and I gave one lecture that was based on the history of the English language,” he said.
“It was a broad range of experience. It made me spread my wings,” Napierkowski added.
As for his future as a Fulbright Specialist, he said that it would depend on what the offer would entail and how long he would have to be gone.
“It might be an adventure to go someplace that is really, really third-world, but it would depend on what they wanted or needed from me and how long they’d want me to be there,” he said.