A Dutch counseling instructor has a new vision of the profession after spending two weeks shadowing her American counterpart at Joliet Junior College.
Noël Abkadri of Enschede, Netherlands, with a population of about 185,000 people, was paired with JJC associate professor of counseling Heidi Munsey. The connection came through the Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs (ICISP).
From Oct. 13 through Oct. 27, Abkadri stayed at Munsey’s home in Morris. The two split time between Munsey’s career and lifestyle planning class and counseling sessions at JJC’s Romeoville and Main campuses, respectively. Outside the classroom, they explored the surrounding sights and culture.
Abkadri said the content taught in Munsey’s career and lifestyle planning course is similar to hers back home. The Dutch professor teaches students how to research labor market data as well as employability skills, as does Munsey.
The main difference in the Netherlands, she noted, is the overall education system. Abkadri said in her country it’s structured like a vocational cohort program and tiered based on knowledge and career choice. There, students can select one of four education tracks, ranging from GED to bachelor’s level equivalents, with varying commitment lengths.
Abkadri was complementary of various teaching strategies at JJC, including Munsey’s hands-on exercises in the classroom. For Munsey, she’s pleased to learn that certain techniques here are also being implemented globally.
She was also happy her students had a chance to engage with Abkadri, which aligns with JJC’s core values of cultural enrichment and inclusion.
While Abkadri had previously visited the U.S., this was her first trip to Illinois. Outside the classroom, the two explored popular tourist spots such as Chicago’s Cloud Gate, otherwise known as The Bean, and Starved Rock State Park. They also took time to visit Munsey’s family in Michigan, and attend a service at her church.
Munsey looks forward to visiting Abkadri in Enschede, Netherlands, next year to see what lessons she can bring back to JJC.