Dr. Paul Negrut
As a way to learn and exchange ideas on how social work and physical therapy is conducted in other parts of the world, a group of UTC faculty and students will visit three Easter European countries this summer.
“We’ve been in conversation about this trip for a couple of years,” said Dr. Cathie Smith, associate professor of the department of physical therapy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
“It’s a great opportunity for students and faculty in social work and physical therapy programs, to look specifically at how services are provided for individuals with different types of neuro-motor problems in an economy and a societal system different from ours,” she said.
A group of six faculty and doctorate students from the physical therapy and social work departments at UTC will travel to Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia for 23 days. They will teach, participate in forums and visit health care agencies that provide care to children with disabilities.
Dr. Paul Negrut, president of Emanuel University of Oradea in Romania, said exchanging ideas on how social programs function in other parts of the world benefits Romania.
“Romania was under a communist rule for 45 years,” Dr. Negrut said. “That left a huge number of suffering people: Children with disabilities, poor people, single moms, abandoned babies, unwanted pregnancies, elderly, etc.”
When the communist system collapsed in 1989 the country was confronted with “so much suffering,” Dr. Negrut said. “We had large numbers of children with disabilities that were treated like animals.”
“We have the huge challenge of rebuilding a nation not only economically but socially and to bring back the value of human life,” he said.
Elijah Soritau, professor at Emanuel University who currently lives in Texas, said he experienced the deficiencies of the health care system in Romania.
Because of his daughter’s diagnosis of neuroblastoma, a tumor in her spine, he and his American wife had to come to the United States so she could get adequate treatment.
“Because of cultural differences of having a disabled child, when the doctor (in the U.S.) told me my daughter will never walk again, I was more worried about her walking than her living. I could not think how I could return to Romania with a paralyzed child?” he said.
“I believe with all my heart that an exchange program like this will help Romania a lot, help change mentalities,” he said.
* Located in Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Ukraine
* Population: 22,276,056 (as of July 2007)
* Birth rate: 10.67 births/1,000 population
* Death rate: 11.81 deaths/1,000 population
* At the start of 2007 Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union
Source: The CIA World Factbook
Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...