International Education Projects
Institute for Democratic Exchange

To face the challenge of globalization in education, The Great Lakes Consortium developed an innovative educational project, The Institute for Democratic Exchange. The project, which is supported by the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, enables Ukrainian and Hungarian teachers and students to learn about democratic and participatory educational and community involvement techniques from their American peers. Ohio elementary teachers and students, on the other hand, greatly benefit from the multicultural educational experience they gain through this project.

"Our students at Birmingham Elementary (in Toledo, Ohio) have been challenged to think at a global level. They have responded to that challenge with enthusiasm, interest and hard work. The Great Lakes Consortium and the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation have simply made a tremendous difference for everyone involved at our school and in our community as well. The students now realize that there is more to strive for than what they can see from their front porches. Children are learning to appreciate the similarities in other cultures while embracing the contrasts. This program is going to make a difference in peoples’ lives" –said Thomas Csizek and Steven Wagner, teachers.

The three-year exchange project is designed for teachers and teaching administrators from Hungary, Ukraine, and Ohio, working with 4 through 8th grade students. The goal of the project is to expose children of this critical developmental age to democratic processes and to engage them in democratic activities. Through this exchange project, the Institute promotes volunteer involvement at an early age, introduced by parents and teachers. The main focus of the project is to assist educators, promote structure learning, and to encourage students’ participation in the community.

Photo of four people at a tableCooperating international partners for the educational project were selected by the Consortium on the basis of existing relationships between The University of Toledo (UT) and the Juhasz Gyula Teachers TrainingCollege(JGYTTC), in Szeged, Hungary, and between Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and the OstrohAcademy in Ukraine. Dr. Gábor Galambos, President of the JGYTTC and the City of Szeged and Consortium member institutions gave us significant support.

Two people at a table.The Sylvania Rotary Club provided financial contribution for this program. Professors Dr. Mark Kinney (UT) and Dr. Patricia Kubow (BGSU) led the Summer Institute. Professors Andrew Timothy from Lourdes College and Nancy Kinney from Washtenaw College assisted. Ukrainian participants were led by Vasyl Zhykovsky from the Academy of Ostroh, assisted by Olena Franchuk from Rivne School 15. Additional support were given by Tamara Zykova and CNFA in Kyiv, Ukraine. The Hungarian group was led by Edina Szõllõsi from the JGYTTC.

"Music is a magic thing, and it can make wonders"

The International Youth Music Club of Perrysburg High School

For a group of music lovers, ‘magic’ began with a performance at the Hungarian Club in November 1999. Music students from Perrysburg High School, eager to meet friends and establish relationships with schools in other countries, played the Hungarian national Anthem to welcome guests from Szeged, Hungary. The breathtaking performance amazed visitors and hosts alike, starting off a unique international musical endeavor.Phil Smith, who is a music teacher at the Perrysburg High School in Ohio, has initiated a musical educational project, linking Perrysburg High School with schools in other parts of the world. He has been teaching for nineteen years and is a member of the 555th Air National Guard Band. He visited Hungary as a participant of the Buckeye Express in 1998. This trip peaked his interest in becoming part of an international communication project that would enable music educators from different countries to exchange ideas.When a group of students asked the music teacher to support their interest in the music and cultures of foreign countries, he decided to call a meeting for February 23, 2000. About twenty students from band, orchestra, and choir assembled that day to found The International Youth Music Club of Perrysburg High school. The group sought guidance and assistance from the Great Lakes Consortium in helping them establish international contacts.

E-mail contacts were shortly set up between Hungarian, Ukrainian and Perrysburg students. The first exciting response came in February 2000 from Iryna Sigilyetova from Rivne, Ukraine, School 15, who wrote: "People united with one passion can do a lot."

Teachers and students involved in this musical project have one very important thing in common: they love music. Sharing one passion, the exchange project conveys a unique cultural experience to its participants, furthering their talents and musical tastes.