The professor who teaches her students the real Greece
Tatiana Kolovou is a senior lecturer in Business Communication at the Kelley School of Business, University of Indiana, which is the 10th best university in the United States of America.
It all started in 1984, when Ms. Kolovou went from Athens to Indiana to study Exercise Science at Indiana University Bloomington. He then worked at Columbus Regional Hospital as a wellness manager, teaching methods of fitness, health education seminars, fitness classes, and later professional development seminars.
From 1996 to 1998, she earned an MBA at the School of Business of the University of Indianapolis. Finally, Ms. Kolovou decided to stay there permanently, made a family, and in recent years he teaches Business Communication as a Senior Lecturer at Kelley School of Business, specializing in Cross-Cultural Communication, that is Intercultural Communication.
“The idea for this program came out at a Christmas party in 2009, when the University’s Rector “picked on me” about Greece’s financial situation, and then I told him that it was not just a matter of Greece, but also of Europe, and therefore students should learn what really happens. So, in 2011 I came to Greece with 20 students, and one assistant and they all returned with great excitement. Since then, I have come one or two times each year, sometimes with 24 undergraduate and 24 graduate students, separately each time”, as Ms. Kolovou said in a recent interview.
For nearly a decade now, since the earliest years of the economic crisis, every spring 24 students of the University of Indiana are divided into groups and study the political, legal, cultural and economic context of Greece, learning about the culture of the country, observing habits of the Greeks and live their daily life for 10 days, but mostly they offer solutions and professional advice to Greek businessmen who want to open up to foreign markets.
Their first contact with the historic, political, economic and legal image of Greece takes place in their classroom in January, and a few months later, in May, they visit Athens and other cities and islands. The students’ research is part of the “Business Culture Greece” program, inspired by Ms. Tatiana Kolovou, a fanatical Greek, a remarkable academic and dynamic woman.
According to Mrs Kolovou, the more someone is aware of his communication surroundings and the better he can adapt, the more effective he will be. As she has said, “My consulting business in training and professional development constantly pushes me to be prepared, credible, and professional. I always have stories to bring into the classroom—and stories are the best way to learn”.
To date, Ms. Kolovou has come with over 300 students and has introduced them to Greece. It is essentially an academic trip with business meetings and is not purely tourist. There are initially around 8 to 9 business visits, while visiting museums, walking around the city and other activities to bring students into contact with Greek reality.
This year, Ms. Kolovou and her students will go to Aegina on a visit to the local peanut producers, where the students will go to the fields and learn about the production and export of the island’s famous main product. All the research that the students are doing is their final thesis. In the end, they write an exam on subjects related to politics, economics, law, history of Greece as well as issues related to the European Union.
Professor Tatiana Kolovou says, “I wanted to change the mindset of Americans who believed the Greeks are lazy. I wanted to do something to help them see the true face of my home country. That’s why I started it and of course the reason I will continue. Besides, what I seek and want every time I come back to America from Greece is for my students to tell their country that Greece is not what you thought. Many even say that this journey has changed their lives. Do not forget that these are 19-year-olds who may not have come out of America. They find that any image that is often transferred to them through the press and television is completely different from what they see here. It opens their mind, they see something else and they love Greece”.
Ms. Tatiana Kolovou, having become a professor in Business Communication and having been awarded the Trustees Teaching Award in March 2010 and April 2013 and also with the Innovative Teaching Award in November 2009, shows through her love for her home country and the healthy side of Greece, to her students at Kelley School of Business, Indiana.
The main objective of the project “Business Culture Greece” is that students will learn how active and energetic business is in Greece, seeing and recognizing the values of a country that they knew only by its negative image in the years of economic crisis.