Dawson brings cross-cultural experiences to Tabor role

Tabor College students taking psychology classes are getting to know a new assistant professor and department chair as the 2004-05 academic year begins.

One thing students may discover about Martin Dawson is his cross-cultural experiences in China.

Following the completion of his doctoral program at Texas Tech University, Dawson received the Boren Fellowship from the U.S. Defense Department to travel to China and study the language and culture.

“They were wanting people to go to places like China and Russia and places where the U.S. doesn’t have a lot of expertise in things,” he said.

Dawson already had had significant experience in China.

Between earning his bachelor’s degree in education from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, and his master’s in marriage and family therapy from Abilene (Texas) Christian University, Dawson spent two years teaching English in China.

“It was an unforgettable experience,” he said.

Combining both experiences, Dawson and his family have spent 91/2 years quietly serving the people of China.

“What we were doing was missionary work basically, but in China you can’t call it that,” Dawson said. “So we were Christian professionals and we actually ran a restaurant.”

He said he and his family are making the transition back to the United States with mixed feelings.

“We miss Chinese people, we miss our friends, we miss getting to speak Chinese everyday, but it is so good to be here,” he said.

“We loved China, but we really needed to be home. It feels so good to be home.”

Dawson said he hopes to return to China over the summer or possibly with students as an interterm experience.

When the Dawsons returned to China to sell their business, he said he and wife Lucy knew it was the right thing to do, but they didn’t know what they would do next.

The Dawsons have three children, Timothy Andrew, 8, Philip, 5, and Miriam, 4. They arrived in Hillsboro in June after living in Austin, Texas, following their return from China.

“I heard about this job at Tabor and it seemed to be a pretty good fit -and here we are,” he said. “It’s worked out really well.”

In addition to Martin’s role on the Tabor teaching faculty, Lucy is an adjunct instructor of sociology,

Dawson said he plans to do more than simply teach classes at Tabor. He also wants to nurture students spiritually and see the social science department grow.

“I really have a deep commitment to helping the students become the people that God wants them to become,” he said. “And then, you want the department to be academically in shape.”

Dawson said he plans to develop a strong sense of camaraderie among the social science majors.

He also wants to expand the department by getting students interested in the psychology major by promoting it better as well as adding courses that have practical application for students in other majors.

“I’m committed to the students,” he said. “The students learn some things from us, but they learn a lot from each other. So, there needs to be a really healthy group atmosphere where students can learn from each other and have that sense of community.”

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