Bethany Giombetti

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Robert Morris University

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International Experience Summary:

Bethany Giombetti spent 5 weeks in Budapest, Hungary learning the Hungarian way of teaching through courses designed to simulate the Hungarian secondary level mathematics classroom. While taking the courses, she took a Practicum course that prepared the students for the MaMut Mathematics Camp where they visited the 6th week in Hungary. Bethany spent her weeks exploring the country whether it was on the western end at the Balaton Lake or the eastern end in Mátrafüred at the camp. She was exposed to new sights, sounds, and she learned how to live like a Hungarian. She learned much about the differences in the American education system and Hungary’s education system which focuses on inquiry-based learning. The program offered her information on a new way of learning and teaching younger students mathematics. It was an eye-opening experience for her as she was challenged to think a different way every day. Her observations of the math camp were great insight into how a Hungarian classroom can take place and how she can use these techniques one day in her future classroom.

When Bethany was not learning or observing mathematics teachings, she was exploring the hidden gems of Budapest on both the Buda and the Pest side. She had many goals coming into the program all related to the Hungarian Approach and the Pósa Method used in some grade levels in Budapest. One of her goals while abroad was to see how the kind of teaching Hungarians use benefits the students’ personal goals. She was able to further this goal through observations at the math camp and through interviews set up during the weeks of classes with Hungarian teachers. Although the form of teaching and learning is one like she has never seen before, a huge insight Bethany took away from this exploration was that every student is different and every different student learns in a unique way. Bethany is excited to return to the Vira I. Heinz Program to share her knowledge of the Hungarian way of teaching in hopes to one day make her classroom a better learning environment for her students. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Mind the Gap: Building Cross-Cultural Understanding to RMU

When I came to RMU, I did not think much about the cultural divide that may exist on campus. I spent three and a half years here trying to become more than I was in high school, and, without much thought, that included me getting more involved with the Center for Global Engagement. My time abroad this summer, in Hungary, made me realize how easy it can be to make connections with people of different cultures. When me and the other two members of the RMU VIH cohort met, we discussed how our environments were very welcoming. Why wasn’t RMU like these places we travelled to? RMU is a controlled environment where students go to class, participate in activities, and socialize. Our CEE stemmed from this question as we explored the thoughts of international students on campus which led to a video of interviews where they spoke upon their experiences coming to RMU. After we showed this video, we then spoke upon our individual experiences abroad, with Margo in Oman, Beth in Argentina, and me in Hungary, and how we all felt welcomed by the locals. To explain our title “Mind the Gap”, we took to telling a story about a trip by train and how one must step over a physical gap to board the train. We related this gap and the journey of this train ride to the journey a student takes at RMU to understanding cross-cultural relations. We were able to share insights in how to bridge this gap not only from the American students’ point of view, but also the international students’ point of view. After telling the audience what we had observed, we hoped that the roundtable discussions would branch out from the guided questions we provided, and they did. Going around to each table, I was able to witness authentic conversations happening in a safe place about how this divide between American and international students is a prominent issue that is not being noticed, needs to be noticed,and thus needs to be fixed. We hope this event resonates with those who attended and stems a reaction that gets the entire campus community talking.