Associate Professor and Chair of Social Work Dr. Ken Stoltzfus will be leaving Malone University in August 2012 after working here for nine years.
Stoltzfus and his family will be moving to Klaipėda, Lithuania, a port city on the Baltic Sea in Eastern Europe. There he will teach at LCC International University, formerly known as Lithuanian Christian College.
A few years ago while he was on sabbatical, Stoltzfus received a grant to teach and conduct research in Russia. While there, he was able to see a part of the world that did not have a lot in the way of social service infrastructure.
“There’s not a lot of help for people who are orphans or have drug and alcohol problems or are poor. Not the kind of support systems we have here,” Stoltzfus said. “As a Christian, I became interested in what the church is doing in that part of the world in the former communist countries. I spent time going to drug and alcohol rehabs that churches had set up.”
“I was there for five months living in that situation and learning about that,” he said. “For the past couple years I’ve felt this sort of magnetic pull to do something again in that part of the world.”
LCC International University is a university that started right after communism ended. The university’s mission is to train students from all over the former USSR so they can help in the rebuilding in their home countries.
“They’ve had a lot of students in their social science department who end up leaving and getting jobs in social services and working with people that need help,” Stoltzfus said.
Although LCC International University is a Christian university, most students who attend are not Christians. Most students attend because they can speak English, which is a way to a better life in Eastern Europe. At LCC International University, the students are able to speak with native English speakers.
The native language of Lithuanian has little demand to be learned outside of Lithuania.
[pullquote]Rosetta Stone doesn’t even have a Lithuanian option, Stoltzfus said. I’ve been working on it, but it’s really hard. I don’t know how fluent [my family] will be by the time we get there, but we’re trying to learn a little bit of it.[/pullquote]
Even though Stoltzfus is leaving Malone, he is looking for ways to remain involved.
“I’m hoping someone will bring Malone students over to Lithuania for service learning trips or study abroad,” he said. “There is an academic conference that LCC holds every year that I’m hoping people here can be involved in. I’m hoping the connections here can continue.”
Although Stoltzfus is excited about his new job in Lithuania, he also expressed sadness about leaving.
“It’s a bittersweet decision. It feels like a choice to do something. It’s not that I wanted to get away from Malone or that I don’t like it here. I do like it here. The closer I am to the day where the semester ends, I’m really mourning it. I’m sad about leaving. I’m going to miss being here.”
Kaylee Riley is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.