Secret life: Dr. Myron Burns

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Most students only get to see one side of their professors—the professional one presented inside the classroom. Secret life is about really getting to know the faculty members of NSU. We want to know more about the individual standing behind the podium or sitting behind the desk. College isn’t just for homework; it’s about getting to know the people who impact our lives, and this is the first step.

Most students know Dr. Myron Burns for his unique teaching style and in-depth knowledge in the psychology field, but what most students don’t about him is his love for travel.

Burns, with a doctorate in counseling psychology from Tennessee State University, serves as an associate professor in the College of Psychology, teaching classes to undergraduate and graduate students.

Burns has a long history of fascination with traveling. He said it’s a hobby of his to go to foreign places and explore its history, learn the culture and discover its beauty. He has traveled all over the U.S., as well as to Canada, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Last summer, he traveled to Colombia for the first time and visited the city of Medellin.

“I had the summer off from teaching and wanted to make the most of it and go on an adventure,” Burns said.

He chose Colombia because he had some friends who had visited before and had an amazing experience.

“For six weeks, I stayed in an apartment in the outskirts of the city near locals and residents, in order to really experience Colombian culture and heritage “I wanted to find out first-hand what it was like to live and be among the natives.”

In the first weeks of his stay in the city, Burns said it was a frightening experience. Shopping in the grocery store was a bit of challenge when it came to finding food and supplies. He had to quickly adapt to the change in culture and language in order to relate and communicate with others in the city. Being that only a small percentage of the people spoke English, speaking Spanish was required for him to survive during his visit.

“I spoke enough Spanish to get by and expressed my basic needs and wants, especially at the grocery stores and restaurants,” Burns said.

In Medellin, he visited several tourist spots, such as Plaza Botero and the Metro Cable Ride Tour. In addition, he visited the local historic chapels and cathedrals. Burns wanted to gain a vast knowledge and understanding of the language, food, traditions, values and people in the region.

“Every day was an adventure for me. After the second week of my stay there, the discomfort I experienced at the beginning of my trip quickly turned into comfort in this new environment,” he said.

He approached many of the locals and natives and had simple conversations with them. He said that it was easy for him to approach people because of his keen sense of character and that the people he crossed paths with were cordial, helpful and engaging.

“They kind of figured I was a tourist and wanted to make sure I had a good time,” he said. “I also became friends with some of the locals, and I still keep in touch with them today.”

He also said that the modern transportation and malls stood out to him, but what truly impressed him was the culture.

“The people were genuinely warm, friendly and hospitable,” he said. “I’m pleased with the decision I made to travel to Medellin.”

Twenty years ago, Burns said the trip wasn’t possible due to dangerous circumstances in the area, but because of the governments’ strides in making it a safer place, this was a much better time to visit.

Burns said that the culture and language barriers were the biggest challenges he faced but that challenges aren’t necessarily a negative circumstance.

“Sometimes, experiencing and dealing with some challenging circumstances can bring positive outcomes for individuals if they stick with them and go through them,” he said. “You will eventually learn and gain knowledge that will help you to become more of a resilient person.”

What Burns once referred to at the beginning of his stay as a “frightening experience” turned into one of the best experiences of his life. It forced him to learn, grow and think of things from another perspective, and he thinks that he is a better person for it now.

“I came back from the trip refreshed, with a different perspective and more of an understanding of the Medellin culture,” Burns said. “The people I met and the memories I created made this trip an unforgettable experience.”

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