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The Slovakian Connection

What recently transpired in a Keuka College classroom is further proof that the world is getting smaller.

High school students in a Slovakian classroom use Skype to chat with Keuka students in an education classroom.

Some 30 students in Assistant Professor of Education Denise Love’s EDU 105: Education of Diverse Learners class, used Skype to find out what makes Slovakian students tick.

And vice versa.

The Keuka students connected with a class of high school students in Assistant Professor of Education Klaudia Lorinczova’s native country and what the students learned about each other was eye-opening and educational.

“I think what impressed the Keuka students the most was that the Slovakian students were just like them,” said Love. “The students from Slovakia had the same sense of humor and they understood American humor, and they could relate to American types of things such as movies, music, dance, and food.”

Klaudia Lorinczova

The session was facilitated by Lorinczova, who “still knows a lot of teachers in Slovakia. The students in high school are 17 to 18 years old, which in Slovakia we call a grammar school and is like a college-prep high school. Students that attend this school will most likely go on to college, which is free in Slovakia.”

The class was from Vrable High School in Vrable, Slovakia, and the teacher, Maria Hritzova, is a former student of Lorinczova.

According to Lorinczova, students in Slovakia begin learning English at a young age, and “I thought ‘I have a class of native English speakers’ and this would be a good opportunity to test the communication skills of our students in talking with non-native English speakers,” she said.

“When Dr. Lorinczova first approached me about [using Skype to talk with the Slovakian students], I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for the Keuka students to see and speak with students from another country and culture,” said Love.

For freshman Deanna Metzger, that is exactly what she got.

“I liked being exposed to another culture, and now I can say I know people from Slovakia,” said Metzger, an adolescent social studies education major from Depew.

The students asked each other a volley of questions on a range of topics such as movies, music, shopping, cars, what activities they like best in winter weather, fast food, instruments played, and favorite actors and actresses, among others. One of the Slovakian students sang part of a popular song, and another danced to a song that the Keuka students also knew. In addition, the Slovakian students taught their American counterparts how to say “how are you” in Slovak: ako sa máš.

Freshmen unified childhood/special education majors Jakiem Brown (Rochester), and Brianna Longwell (Branchport) were impressed that the Slovakian students watched the same television shows they did.

“All of the students were respectful; they listened to each other, they laughed at the same things, and it really brought the classes together,” said Lorinczova. “Now they want to ‘friend’ each other on Facebook. I was afraid they would just be staring at each other, and the Keuka students thought they would have nothing in common, but I think this chat proved otherwise.”

After talking with the high school students, Metzger “wants to visit my new friends,” as do classmates Jake Banas, an exploratory major from Delmar, and sophomore Laura Lawrence, a psychology major from Oswego.

Said Lorinczova: “I would like this to become a regular thing—at least once a semester—and for the fall, I’d like to tie it into International Education Week. I would love to see a Field Period come out of this for the Keuka students.”

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