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Students exchange experiences with the University of South Bohemia

University of South Bohemia graduate students Tomas Hermann and David Marko are pictured on left with current graduate students Taryn Williams and Mary Hart at a Georgia Southern football game.

Two students from the University of South Bohemia (USB) in České Budějovice, Czech Republic, visited Georgia Southern University for five weeks this fall as a part of a long-standing international collaboration between the two universities.

USB’s first interest in Georgia Southern was its tick collection, however, the two institutions have continued relationships throughout the years in various capacities. Within the last year, the College of Education (COE) has sent seven representatives to visit the USB campus during three different visits thanks to Erasmus+ grants, which allows Eurpoean countries to work with western professionals for faculty and professional development for all participants.

The visit of two students from the USB was the first of what both universities hope will be a continued experience. Tomas Hermann and David Marko, physical education and sports graduate students at USB, came to Georgia Southern during the months of August and September to explore the health and physical education program offered at the university.

Marko explained that there were several differences they noted right away including the length and curriculum focus of the programs. At USB, undergraduate studies are completed in three years, and the physical education and sport graduate program takes two years, focusing on sports education.

“We wanted to see if there was any difference of how you prepare physical education teachers,” Marko said. “What we learned is to try to focus more on our teaching skills and collect more data on student progress.”

“Your program focuses on how to be a good teacher,” Hermann added. “We [at USB] focus on how to be good at sports.”

To demonstrate the level of sports education that USB physical education and sports students receive, Marko and Hermann shared that their program requires them to pass instructor certificates through coursework that includes cross country skiing, cycling, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking and snowboarding. 

Marko and Hermann also experienced an unfortunate consequence of coastal life as Hurricane Dorian interrupted their visit in early September. However, both students said they still enjoyed their time in Savannah and Statesboro, and would love to visit again.

“We really liked both campuses and the spirit at your university could be felt,” Marko said. “We would love to see Czech people be proud of their universities like you all are.”

Discussions to expand the partnership with USB are in the works with a proposed pilot of an International Study Opportunity (ISO) hosted for the first time in the Czech Republic during spring break of 2020. As a part of the TCLD 4231: Cultural Diversity course, a required class for many undergraduate education majors at Georgia Southern, College of Education’s Deborah Thomas, Ph.D., associate dean for curriculum, instruction and initial educator preparation would like to see students have the opportunity to travel to USB and receive a different cultural view from attending classes, presentations and visiting schools in the České Budějovice area.

“We are collaborating with our colleagues at USB to provide opportunities for our candidates to interact with USB teacher candidates who are learning to teach English,” Thomas explained. “They will also visit classrooms where students are learning English.”

With Czech being the primary language of the Czech Republic, students will find that English is not as commonly spoken in the areas outside of the university campus.

“This will provide a broader cultural view, as they will experience what their students feel like when they don’t speak the primary language of those around them in a culture that is also different,” Thomas said. “For many of our students this will be the first time they have had this experience, and it will make them stronger teachers who consider culturally and linguistically diverse students in their instruction preparation and delivery.”

For more information on the College of Education’s International Study Opportunity, visit https://coe.georgiasouthern.edu/student-teaching/iso/.

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