AMIT Conference from a MISI attendee perspective (06.14.2014.)

For the second year in a row, the Arany János Hungarian School and the American Hungarian Collegium organized the AMIT, that is the American-Hungarian Schools Conference. 

The conference was held on Saturday, June 14th Minnesota Hungarians MISI Hungarian school, attended the conference.—Éva Kish, Évi Noy,  Zsuzsanna Matika as well as our current Diaspora Scholarship recipient—Eszter Mészáros.

 At the conference, which was held at the New York Hungarian Consulate, we met a number of members of North American Hungarian schools, Nursery school directors, pedagogues, leaders of Hungarian scouting and other professionals whose labor of love is the care of the Hungarian language and culture. Various lectures and workshops were presented alternating with presentations by Hungarian schools, Nursery schools and Scouting troupes operating in North America. We also debuted MISI to the conference with a video, which enticed the audience to smiles and laughter. With this short film we uniquely showed a day in the life of our school, beginning with the play-like assignments to the hard-working industry of our students learning the beauty of our Hungarian language. I then summarized our professional experiences with the participants in a short presentation. A lot of useful information was communicated at the conference. If we didn’t receive answers to all of our questions, we did get directions and suggestions. It turned out that all of the participating Hungarian educational institutions face similar challenges as we do. For instance, the difficulty in assigning the children into the groups, finding the best books, difficult to choose the curriculum for such a short time in the classroom, and how to maintain the interest in children 13 years old and older. In spite of these difficulties, children are enthusiastic and eager to be involved in the classes and various events. They are happy to take part in poetry competitions, are happy to speak in Hungarian, and what is especially surprising, that they love writing in cursive. The message of the conference was that if we take advantage of their curiosity, and teach them a complete Hungarian curriculum then our work will be truly successful and we can raise well-rounded Hungarian people. In order to do this, we must involve the local and the entire Diaspora Hungarian community.

 

In line with the message of the meeting, the organizers did everything they could to make us fell like we were in Hungary while being in one of the most populous cities of the world. Not only did we listen to lectures about teaching Hungarian language in Hungarian but we also sang Hungarian folk songs, played Hungarian folk games, leafed through Hungarian books, and ate delicious Hungarian meals prepared by Hungarian cooks and, in the evening, we folk danced at a Hungarian táncház. 

The positive feedback that we received at the conference suggested that we are moving in the right dirction. This was the confirmation we teachers needed! We will use the lessons we learned in our future classes, and will cultivate our relationships with the professionals we met. It is wonderful that we now have those that we can turn to professional advice. In addition to this, the participants at the conference alerted us to the fact that the tasks of the Minnesota Hungarian organization have widened. Currently, the Kids’ Klub is active including children from ages 0-7 years old. The recently launched MISI Hungarian language school aims to educate children ages 5-12. Since our responsibility is to teach our mother tongue and Hungarian culture to our children from a very young age until adulthood, we must also think about how we can involve children older than 12 years old as well. So our plans for the future will include the organizing of programs that can include this age group in the events of the community in which there will also be an opportunity to speak the language and in increase our understanding of what it is to be Hungarian.

 We have the summer ahead of us but being professionally enriched and with renewed enthusiasm, we are preparing our fall classes to include more Hungarian culture along with higher quality language instruction for the enrolled children.

 Zsuzsanna Matika