IIE Networker - Fall 2006 - (Page 47)

Knowledge Network Central and Eastern Europe Opening Doors The Flinn Foundation Scholarship Program By Michael Cochise Young Flinn Foundation Scholars in Budapest, Hungary. From the opening of the Austro-Hungarian borders; to the revolving door of Hungary’s cyclic government changes; to the opening of the European Union to Hungary in 2004 and to Romania in 2007, “opening doors” have characterized the past 17 years of Hungarian and Romanian history. Seven years ago, the Flinn Foundation threw open one set of those doors to students in its Scholars Program. To prepare these Scholars for independent “purposeful travel,” part of the students’ $50,000 award, the Foundation instituted a three-week study-travel seminar to engage students with countries whose development would impact their future as professionals and world citizens in the coming decades. In partnership with IIE’s European office, the Foundation sought to bond its participants, twenty sophomores from three different public Arizona universities, into a tight cohort; introduce them to persons who could offer disparate perspectives on the target region’s most pressing issues; provide them with opportunities for experiential learning; and challenge them to function outside of their linguistic and cultural comfort zones. In Hungary and Transylvanian Romania, the Flinn Scholars Program found complex and productive destinations. In the northern Hungarian city of Ozd, an economic development program initiated by GE (itself an IIE partner) to train students in international (Englishlanguage) business skills, bears the title “Opening Doors.” One Ozd participant, now a second-year high school student, welcomed this year’s Scholars with an explosive “I have awaited you like Christmas!” His exuberant greeting proved that “language may be important for details like [how to request] cream in coffee, but for life, emotion and sincerity are more important.” The metallic screech of an iron door announced the Scholars’ entrance into the millennium-old mining gallery, unintended homage to the Romans who had painstakingly chiseled a long, low labyrinth through the mountain’s gold ore. A similarly abrasive clamor emerged from the town’s residents and environmental allies who now contest the activities of a multinational mining enterprise converting their community into open pits and taling ponds. The wooden groan of a sluice gate rising, freeing a stream to course over the old mill water wheels, spoke of other eras of productivity. In the same small town, the scrape of a wooden cattle stall door through wet straw opened a new perspective to lifelong urban-dwelling Scholars who had never kneaded a doe’s teat, heard the splash of a milky stream into a tin bucket, or drunk the warm, fresh product, tasting of hay and barn and goat. The local hosts earned the students’ gratitude by opening their homes (and barns) and “for [the] warmth and kindness that nourished us both physically and spiritually.” Another experience in Romania put the Scholar’s role as visitors into perspective. After leading a morning’s discussion on the value of globalization “[the village’s minister] shared a story [that] depicted the relationship between her village and our group. Her story described the difference between the bear and the eagle. The bear had to climb to reach the peak of a very tall mountain, while the eagle had to descend to reach that same point. In her eyes, her village was much like the bear, while we corresponded to the eagle in the story. The moral was that each group had a very different perspective on the same issues as outsiders, our group of college students did not have

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2006

IIE Networker - Fall 2006
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
Leading the Way Toward True Global Engagement: A Challenge to American Colleges and Universities
The Lincoln Commission and the Future of Study Abroad
Destination India: Opportunities and Challenges for Expanding Study Abroad in a Nontraditional Location
Heritage-Seeking and Study Abroad: A Case Study
State Department Resources
Short-Term Programming
Community College
GLBT Issues
Branch Campus
Central and Eastern Europe
Freshmen Study Abroad
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Fall 2006