Classroom 2.0: The Wiki Experiment

Wherein Greg endeavors to teach high schoolers to wiki responsibly.

A few weeks ago I created a wiki for the CETP program in hopes that CETP participants would share experiences and words of wisdom about their homes and schools in Hungary. So far few have taken up the cause, and I suspect it has something to do with time. Updating a wiki about the place you’ve lived for nearly a year, not to mention working with an unfamiliar interface takes a certain amount of energy. In fact, I haven’t even had time to make one about Kaposvár or my school and it was my idea! To solve this problem, I endeavored to pass along the burden of typing up all the important information about my school, town, and Hungary to my students, a task that was recently partially completed. Continue reading “Classroom 2.0: The Wiki Experiment”

Munkácsy Times

A quick update for everyone out there. We at Munkácsy Mihály Gimnázium started an English language newspaper at our school last December. We published one issue in print and now it will continue, mostly, online. Check it out at http://munkacsytimes.wordpress.com. All the articles from our first issue are already available there, and new articles will be published all this week.

A Legfinomabb Magyar Étel

disznóvágás
After a long disznóvágás day, the blood sausage is ready.

On a Friday in late autumn, I walked into my ninth grade bilingual classroom to find an interesting query scrawled across the blackboard. “What is disznóvágás in English?” My command of basic Hungarian pronunciation was still rough around the edges, and as I read the sentence aloud, I mangled the word. I waited for the students to have a good laugh at my expense before I could get a chance to ask, “What exactly is a disznóvágás?” As they explained it to me the first time, I gathered that it was a pig slaughter, but little more.
Continue reading “A Legfinomabb Magyar Étel”

State Fair Food Pitched by Munkácsy Students

This past weekend, Kaposvár celebrated the Hungarian tradition of Farsang (far-shaang). The festival featured creatures known as Busó (pronounced boo-show) roaming around Kossuth square, mostly scaring children and dogs, but some also got a bit aggressive with the ladies, which was a little strange. The story of the Buso goes something like this: Continue reading “State Fair Food Pitched by Munkácsy Students”

Swept Away in Vienna

State Hall

There are thousands of century old books in the State Hall of Vienna's National Library.

As an English teacher living in South Korea last year, I developed a tired habit. Week after repetitive week, I mentally promised myself that I would really, truly contact local Wisconsin newspapers in search of one that might grant me the space for a column. I managed to deftly avoid 52 self-imposed deadlines, but I have finally broken the cycle of procrastination. It just took moving to Kaposvár, Hungary to finally get my act together.

Each month I write a column entitled New Beginnings: At Home and Abroad, for Sun Prairie, Wisconsin’s local newspaper, The Sun Prairie Star. This month I wrote a piece about that priceless moment in every good trip where you get swept away in a moment, and how I found that instant of genuine awe is Vienna’s National Library. You can read the rest of the article here, at the Sun Prairie Star’s website.

After a week of exploring Vienna, the moment I had been waiting for finally arrived. I was utterly swept away. The woody scent of books found its way through the chilled air to my nose as the soaring crescendos of Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier played in homage to its debut a century ago. Overhead stately figures in Grecian robes leaned over a balcony in a warmly painted fresco, and old globes with sea creatures poking out of seas begged to be spun.

Yet all of this decadent beauty was only a secondary compliment to this room’s main attraction: books. Lining shelf upon shelf stretching two stories up were the crinkled pages of books dating back hundreds of years. I was in the State Room of Austria’s National Library, one of Europe’s best, and among the books filling the shelves were pages churned out by the press over 500 years ago.

You can read the rest of the article here, at the Sun Prairie Star’s website. If you’re interested in reading more, rest assured, more articles wait just a click away. Like my October piece about the contrasts between building a new school in Sun Prairie and rural Hungary, or my December column, about spending Thanksgiving with a 30 pound turkey and a dozen ex-pats. And of course, there’s more to come next month.

It’s a Map!

We made a map showing our travels. This post tells how it was made, and where you can see it.

Seeing as this is a blog written by two travelers who can’t seem to write about their destinations fast enough, we thought it would be a good idea to map our travels. Now, you can see all our destinations at once—everywhere we’ve been in the entire world (though we’ve been so many places in the motherland that we only included a few), and click on them to learn more information. If there are blog posts about that place, you will see them listed below the place description, and if we happened to snap a photo while we were there, you’ll see one of those two. There are still some bugs to be worked out, and any suggestions—style, functionality, or otherwise—are more than welcome either in the comments here or by email. And now, without further ado, we present the map:

Click here for a map of the places we have visited, and learn more about them.

Cross-posted: Harms-Boone Admin Blog, Schoolhouse: ROK, Keeping up with the Magyars

For the curious: The map was generated with the help of the Google Maps Javascript API V3, no Flash was used to make this map.

Behind the Scenes

On our blogs we often reflect on our time abroad; the things that surprise, challenge, and force us into changing our perspective. We offer travel and teaching advice, recipes, and occasionally a post about a dog sneaks in, but what we rarely do is write about our day to day, the things that keep us busy after school, and the things we do to stay in touch with home. Today we offer the latter.

Some of our closer friends, or Twitter followers, may know that Danielle has been writing a monthly column for her hometown newspaper, The Sun Prairie Star. Her most recent piece was about the experiences of Sun Prairians living abroad during the holidays. Greg will also be writing outside the Harms-Boone sphere; he was invited to write for the CheapOair.org travel blogs. He is not sure what he will write about yet, or when it will be published, but it will for sure be linked here. CheapOair is another discount airfare website competing with the likes of Kayak, SkyScanner, and others.

At school, Greg launched the first (ever?) English language newspaper at his high school called The Munkácsy Times. The articles were written by a dedicated, hard-working group of 10th and 11th graders. The first issue dropped this week, and it will be published monthly. A download of the PDF is linked at the bottom of this page. At this point Munkácsy students are required to pay almost a dollar for a color copy of the publication; donations and advertising are accepted by paypal! Greg is also working to organize a web design club, and an East Asian cultures club at Munkácsy High School next semester: did I hear Kimchi making experiment? Send forth your recipes, film recommendations, and anything else you can think of to introduce Central European high school students to East Asia.

Other things that have kept us busy have included wild and crazy adventures to Budapest, coming up with a neat way to visualize our travels and experiences using both the Google Maps API and Protovis (which has included Greg getting a crash course in javascript), baking like crazy, and catching up on some television shows we heard were too good to miss (mostly The Wire, and Dexter). Finally, our friends Kristin Pederson and Tyler Ray, who are on their second tour of Korea this time in Daegu, have launched a lovely website, you should visit it and read their blogs about baking and living in South Korea.

Download: Munkácsy Times Volume 1, Issue 1 [PDF]

A Dog for the Night

A vizsla puppy dropped by for the night.

Újhold
Puppy slumber party

Meet Újhold, the Hungarian Vizsla that became our temporary roommate for the night. Our friend Franky found her wandering unattended in the Penny Market parking lot. He is a sucker for all dogs, but especially Vizslas since he has a very loved and sorely missed Vizsla of his own back in the United States. It’s little surprise then, that everything she did reminded Frankie of his own dog, Luna. He even christened her Újhold, a possibly rough Hungarian translation of New Moon. He couldn’t leave the parking lot without knowing she had a place to sleep, which turned out to be the foot of our bed, since Frankie’s not allowed dogs in his building. I’m not the hugest fan of dogs, though I have to admit, she was a perfectly polite guest. The real question is, does anyone know her owner?

Linden Honey Baguette

A post inspired by our friends at Just a Rough Draft, we turn this week to a recipe made from scratch.

A post inspired by our friends at Just a Rough Draft, where they blog about creative concoctions and exotic foods they encounter from around the world, we turn this week to a recipe made from scratch. Continue reading “Linden Honey Baguette”

Tales of a Gimnazium Lektor: Part One

A brief reflection on the workaday experience of a foreign teacher working in a Hungarian high school.

Given that I came to Hungary about a month and a half after I left Korea, the first question a lot of people ask me is something to the tune of: “So do you like Hungary or Korea better?” Continue reading “Tales of a Gimnazium Lektor: Part One”