by Pattie Moreno
Dr. Sharon Davis, professor of sociology, and Dr. Reed Gratz, professor of music, have returned to the University this semester following a sabbatical and leave of absence, respectively.
Dr. Davis traveled to Greece on her sabbatical last semester. On her previous sabbatical, she remained in the local area, so in deciding where to take her latest sabbatical, she decided she was “getting out of the country,” to do her research.
Every seven years faculty earn an opportunity to go on a sabbatical. The purpose of a sabbatical is self renewal and to become more interested in their particular area of teaching.
Dr. Davis chose the ULV campus in Athens, Greece because it is an institution in Greece that is taught in English. She said she did not know much about Greece, so she came to the conclusion it would be a great learning experience.
She spent three months in Kifissia, a town in the suburbs. Her last month, she spent living in downtown Athens in a colleague’s flat.
Dr. Davis taught a juvenile delinquency class and compared American delinquency patterns to Greek patterns. Her class consisted of 14 students in which two were studying abroad from the United States.
“The Greek delinquency rate was very low and their family values were very high,” she said.
Aside from teaching a class, she did research on the percentage of Greek crime and the delinquent attitudes. Dr. Davis collected 150 questionnaires from Americans and their attitudes toward crime and delinquency and punishment.
Although she was extremely busy enriching her career, she did find time to experience Greece in her leisure time.
“I loved going on trips to see the antiquities, the fact that Greece can trace its history over 3,500 years and each year left its mark. That was real exciting to me,” she said.
Dr. Davis and some of the Brethren Colleges Abroad students visited the town of Metcora, outside of Athens, which features several old monasteries perched atop steep, rocky pinnacles.
“We walked back and forth through the mountains until we reached the very top. This was absolutely fascinating,” said Dr. Davis.
The monastaries were placed very high to avoid invasion or being bothered by everyday life.
When she initially arrived in Greece she was in culture shock.
“I couldn’t believe it happened to me, the first few weeks I was pretty confused,” she said.
She immediately began talking to people as a sociologist, getting to know the Greek culture.
“I learned I really am a sociologist,” she said.
Dr. Davis extended her stay for three weeks and was not ready to come home. Initially on her arrival to the United States she experienced reverse culture shock. She said it was difficult for her to readjust to her own culture.
“I still don’t see things the same as I did before my trip to Greece,” she said.
Dr. Davis anticipates that her study will be completed in the spring of 1996. She worked on writing a book and was able to outline 17 chapters and complete the first chapter. The book takes sociology and the theory of studies and applies it to everyday life.
“I encourage everyone to consider going to Greece. It’s a beautiful culture to learn, but no trip to Greece is complete with out going to the isles,” said Dr. Davis.
Dr. Gratz is back from a two-and-a-half year leave of absence in Holland. His main interest in going was that his wife is from Amsterdam, so he wanted to learn her culture and language.
Dr. Gratz said he was a little disoriented when he returned, but plans to travel back and forth and try to live in Holland in his time off.
“I intend to keep ties in Holland and I plan to go back as often I can,” he said.
In the last few years, his teaching has had a different perspective than it does since his trip from Holland. He was a pianist and keyboardist in Holland to make a living.
“I am more aware of what it takes to survive as a musician,” said Dr. Gratz.
In Holland, he did freelance work playing with blues and rock bands, which resulted in him adding a new class for the spring semester called Survey of Rock Music.
In hopes of making an adequate living, Dr. Gratz traveled the town hanging signs, visiting music stores, placing ads and constantly going to clubs and networking.
“I like Holland a lot, but I also like a lot about California. A lot of my life is invested in California,” said Dr. Gratz.
He said the adjustment of returning to ULV was not bewildering because the Music Department was much the same, including offices and classrooms.
“There are a lot of new faces at ULV, but this institution is 100 years old and everything was still very familiar,” he said.
“The international experience of sending a student to a new culture really opens your mind and makes you more tolerant and a more accepting person,” said Dr. Gratz.
The most memorable moment for him in his travels to Holland was performing a Cole Porter musical with a local music group in a theater on opening night.
“All the well known people in the business were there, this was a special moment being an American and being in that,” said Dr. Gratz.