Tunxis Community College psychology professor Christina Gotowka spent three weeks immersed in a field study of western China cultures during a course at MacMillan Center’s PIER Summer Institutes at Yale University.
“As western China develops, it will have plenty of challenges to address in integrating its ethnic groups,” said Gotowka, one of 16 scholars and educators from across the country selected through a competitive process to participate in the course “Ethnicity and Social Change in Silk Road Regions of Western China.”
The class and field study explored how current social, political, economic and environmental conditions will affect the future development of the region. “There is an obvious contrast between urban and rural China, with many cultural, religious and language differences among these factions,” said Gotowka, who studied the daily life of these groups and visited a number of markets, temples and museums in the Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan provinces. “It was interesting to see what gets immediately embraced by these populations and what gets ignored,” she added, explaining that while these minority nationalities retain their culture and simple lifestyle in rural areas, they have adopted technologies which have enabled them to become more globally connected and socially integrated with urban areas of China.
Gotowka will include information from the field study in her “Cross-Cultural Psychology” course curriculum at Tunxis, one of the goals of the PIER course. “Knowledge of other countries and cultures has become increasingly important,” she said. “Students need this 21st century skill to succeed in a global community.”
She and the other course participants will also create lesson plans for PIER’s resource library, used by educators throughout the country. Gotowka, who resides in Old Lyme and funded her own trip, plans to give several presentations to other groups to share observations from the field study. The course is the eighth she has taken through PIER, which stands for Programs in International Educational Resources.
From fine arts, health, and technology to liberal arts & sciences programs, Tunxis offers almost 60 associate’s degrees and certificates, providing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that prepare students for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs and employment in areas with industry need. Tunxis is located at the junction of Routes 6 and 177 in Farmington.