This summer, we had quite a few visiting scholars at the CBS, thanks to USAC stipends for professors to research abroad. First up, I’d like to introduce Naiara Ozamiz and Virginia Guillén Cañas, professors at the University of the Basque Country.
Naiara Ozamiz is a Doctor in Psychology and Professor of Medical Psychology at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the Basque Country. She has worked as a psychotherapist in different day units with patients with personality disorders and psychosis. She has mainly specialized in group psychotherapy, although she has also performed individual and family psychotherapies. In 2013, she defended her dissertation on Personality Disorders in the DSM-5. She has published several articles on attitudes towards treatments, personality disorders, psychiatric emergencies, and the elderly.
Virginia Guillén Cañas has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and has researched eating disorders. Although she studied Psychology, she is not a therapist, although she is versed in Gestalt Therapy. She is a Professor of Psychology and Communication Skills to medical students, as well as dentistry and physiotherapy students, in the Faculty of Medicine and Nursing, Department of Neuroscience, in the area of Psychiatry. Spending most of her time in the Basque Country working on research and other scholarly projects, she researches health improvement and enjoys teaching healthy habits about addictions and gender empowerment, working with children and women.
We took a minute to catch up with them, giving them a chance to reflect on their experience at UNR and Reno more generally.
What brought you to the Center for Basque Studies and UNR?
Naiara: The University the Basque Country offers USAC scholarships every year to be able to go to universities in the United States. I was interested in learning about the University of Nevada and requested the scholarship. Before going, Iker Saitua, (Ph.D. who carried out his doctoral dissertation at the Center for Basque Studies) recommended me to approach the Center. I was also interested in UNR’s Medical School and the Psychology Faculty.
Virginia: I stayed in Reno and UNR for a month thanks to a USAC grant. I chose Reno because of the existence of the Center for Basque Studies.
What was the goal of your research?
Naiara: One of the objectives of getting to know the different faculties at the University of Nevada has been to learn about the way they teach, their investigations and their clinical work in different areas.
Virginia: My objective was to search for opportunities to meet with other colleagues, and I knew that the Center for Basque Studies could assist me in planning my research abroad. I wanted to acquire and refine my medical and scientific knowledge and then apply it through medical education and evidence-based treatments for people, especially those with mental illnesses.
What did you accomplish?
Naiara: In the area of teaching, I have been able to see the teaching curriculum of the Medical School, and their teaching methodology. I have been fortunate to be able to attend medical classes. With the methodology and material that the faculty has shown me, I will be able to apply it in the classes of psychology that I give in the Faculty of Medicine.
Virginia: We have worked in the translation of the three questionnaires for measuring communication skills: a Cognitive and Affective Empathy Test and one on Social Abilities. It was a good chance to adapt and publish these scales into English, since they are only validated in Spanish and Basque. We hope to carry out this research at UNR and University of the Basque Country.
Naiara: As far as research is concerned, the Medical School has given me several ideas to investigate, and maybe, in the future, we will do joint research. Furthermore, the Writing Center has helped me to write scientific articles. As far as the clinical area is concerned, the University of Nevada, Reno has a psychology service for teachers and students, and I found its operation very interesting. At the University of the Basque Country, there is a similar service but in Nevada, they have many more resources, and I would love to take that magnitude to our university.
Virginia: We will go deeper in optimizing the clinical cases given to students after analyzing UNR’s organization of medical curriculum. Also, their website has additional information about the curricular structure, http://med.unr.edu/ome/curriculum/structure, and about the cases of the week, http://med.unr.edu/ocf/involvement-opportunities/case-of-the-week. Melissa Piasecki has a very interesting book that we will try to translate into Spanish, so we will keep in touch. We will look into congresses about suicide in Europe, where she will attend and collaborate with other groups in preventing suicide.
I have revised three publications at the Writing Center. One publication is about Communication Skills, another one about eating disorders, and last one about Diabetes. I hope to publish them in the next months. The Writing Center is very helpful for Spanish speaking people like myself to write correctly in English.
Did the Center for Basque Studies help you in any way?
Naiara: Above all, I have been helped by the workers at the center. They informed me of different resources that the University has, and of Nevada in general. I have learned about Basque and American culture, and I took several excursions with them. There is nothing like getting to know the country and its history, especially with historians! I am very grateful and they are excellent people.
I have felt more comfortable at the Center for Basque Studies since it has been like being at home. They have taught me about the Basque studies that are being done at the Center and I have learned a lot about Basque history in the Basque diaspora. At the moment, I’m dedicating myself to translating psychology questionnaires into Euskera and I’m trying to write the maximum possible articles in Euskera. The workers at the Center have inspired me to continue doing this work, since their great knowledge in history gives meaning to the work being done in favor of Basque.
Virginia: Visiting the Center for Basque Studies has been very useful because of resources such as the Writing Center, Savitt Medical Library, Summer sessions and the Nevada Historical Society. Also, it was a place where I could share research projects where Basque-speaking people are compared to Spanish and English speaking ones.
I would not have gone to Reno without the help of the Center for Basque Studies. I felt at home, and Edurne and Iñaki explained to us political and social aspects about the way of living and we had conversations comparing American and Basque people. This is very important for adapting there.
I will keep in contact and inform the Center if any research fulfills the objectives of the Center and the University of the Basque Country. There are three possible projects to collaborate on: Sport in the Environment of National Minorities, Communication Skills in Medical students: Bilingualism and Gender Differences (Third sex), and Adapting a test for measuring eating disorders in Basque, Spanish and English males with eating disorders.
Did you enjoy U.S.? What about Reno!?
Naiara: I had a great time in Reno. I have learned a lot and I have loved meeting the people there. The USAC workers have treated me very well. It is an excellent organization. I did not miss anything.
Although the Reno casinos are a bit scary, Reno has some fabulous places. The whole walk along the river with its atmosphere, Louis’ Basque Corner, the Basque monument … and the surroundings are wonderful: Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, and all the trekking that can be done around Reno…
It has been wonderful, just remembering it gives me much joy and I feel like coming back. I feel very grateful for all the people I have met there, they could not have treated me better.
Virginia: Reno and the surrounding areas provide unlimited indoor and outdoor recreational activities. The most impactful aspect is that Reno has a great area full of casinos Downtown but the rest of the city is like any another one. Anyway, the distances are big so USAC offered us bikes and the bus timetables. I would recommend anyone to use them and also Uber, Taxis and UNR’s Campus Escort. The weather has been spectacular.
I liked Lake Tahoe a lot, and next time I would like to share a car or a van to visit the deep countryside of Nevada…for biking, camping, and mountain climbing. I also went to Colorado so I visited the mountains, and I would recommend that trip to everyone!
What did you miss the most?
Naiara: Nothing, I did not want to go back to the Basque Country. The only thing that made me go back was to meet my newborn nephew.
Virginia: Nowadays I miss my friends there. My stay was perfect!
We do hope you come back and visit!