Sabbaticals reccomended, success in experience

Jay Moorman - Department Head of Communications

Jay Moorman – Department Head of Communications

Jay Moorman

I’ve been gone.

Last semester I was absent from campus. Was I sick? Was I laid off from my job due to RIF policies? Was I on a secret mission for the government? Did you miss me? No, I had requested a sabbatical from my day job and was granted one for the fall term to do research in Taiwan.

According to Wikipedia, “A sabbatical is a prolonged hiatus in the career of an individual taken in order to fulfill some goal.” My goal was to see how other universities ran their programs (especially in my field of communication), work on my Chinese language skills and most importantly reconnect with my research interest of intercultural communication.

For the months of September and October, I was a visiting scholar on the island off the coast of Mainland China. It was good to get away. While there, I ate a tremendous amount of seafood, played a little tennis, rode in a lot of taxicabs, buses and trains, listened to my iPod daily and made sure to update my Facebook site often. End of story.

Not quite. What does one do when one is away from the normal everyday? First, there is the planning. My two-month stay actually began years earlier through a chance meeting in Beijing, China. And, for the months leading up to my visit, my home life, work life, cars, bills, travel, papers, clothes, books, lectures, money, etc., all had to be lined up.

What else did I do besides eating and traveling? Well, my visits included eight universities and two high schools. Also, I did 19 formal presentations on topics ranging from communication in the 21st Century to interviewing and public speaking workshops. My audiences ranged from serious graduate students and faculty from Taiwan and Vietnam to not-so-serious engineering undergraduates who wanted to know how to “talk to girls.” There was a Global Moon Festival in the southern city of Kaohsiung where I was one of the VIP guests. Some of the same government officials that invited me to that event took me to the Hakka town of Meinong where there is a large statue at the entrance to the town celebrating their most famous product -the banana.

Yes, it was good to get away. As a faculty member, I feel refreshed and excited about my discipline and my specialty area of intercultural communication. My Chinese language has improved, although it’s always going to be a work in progress. For you, I recommend that you take advantage of opportunities to get away, reflect on what you are doing, and make changes accordingly. Your sabbatical will inform you of the right choices you can make and ensure that your career is a productive one.

Much of what I experienced will find its way into the classroom here at Missouri Southern. For starters, I’m thinking about a class on romantic communication…