Washington, DC – Nine high school principals and administrators from Hungary completed their two-week study tour in the United States, visiting Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, PA, Raleigh, NC and New York City on October 8-22.
The U.S. Secondary Education Program was sponsored by the International Visitors Program of the U.S. Department of State, together with the U.S. Embassy in Budapest and the Hungarian American Coalition. The aim of the program was to allow the visiting high school principals to learn about the U.S. education system, particularly secondary education.
Upon their return, the participants emphasized that their direct exposure to United States helped them better understand and appreciate the U.S. way of life in general, and the U.S. education system in particular. Mr. László Somogyi, Principal of the Berzsenyi Dániel High School in Budapest, noted that he overcame some negative pre-conceptions through unexpected and pleasant experiences, which were the result of excellent program arrangements.
Mr. László Tombor, Principal of the Baár-Madas Secondary School of the Reformed Church in Budapest, had expected quite a different, much weaker educational system in the U.S., and what he saw was just the opposite: a model to follow or to adopt, with its flexible system of study in schools. He especially appreciated the relationship of students to their schools: their enthusiasm for their classes/schools is evident through logos, caps and other forms. Mr. Tombor also praised the strong civil society in the United States, which is very well represented in schools by the Parent/Teacher Associations. He was amazed by the enthusiastic work done by these organizations, their good cooperation and joint activities with the schools’ management.
Mr. József Kaposi, Principal of the Keleti István Vocational High School and Basic Art School in Budapest, expressed his special appreciation to the Hungarian American Coalition for the selection of members in this group, and to the organizers for the excellent program. He said that their hosts and interpreters did their utmost to make this tour useful and memorable.
Most participants intend to share their U.S. experiences with their colleagues and co-workers by holding presentations, writing articles and reports. Many of the principals wish to contact host institutions in Pittsburgh and Raleigh for further cooperation and student exchange programs in upcoming years.
The high school leaders expressed their intention to establish additional contacts with Hungarian American educators, and mentioned their willingness to provide Hungarian language materials and other assistance.