In addition to 15 students from MUNI, 16 students from McLennan Community College (MCC), who are Presidential and University Scholars, enrolled in the inter-university Introduction to Humanities course that Zdeněk Janík from the MU Faculty of Education taught and American colleagues. The scholarship fund covers their tuition and textbooks in the U.S. and also allows them to engage in volunteer activities, meet individually with the college president, and go on a short-term educational trip abroad each year, among other things.
Two such scholarship recipients are nursing students Perla Reynoso and Aaliyah Jones. For both, this programme gave them their first international experience, and they were very happy to have been given the unique opportunity to go abroad.
“I took the hybrid course for the first time, and I have to say that it was a truly unforgettable experience. The course was great from the very beginning when we met virtually with our classmates from the Czech Republic all semester. Thanks to the group projects and the videos we created, we also got to know each other's culture, relationships, daily routines and rituals, and limitations, which was very interesting,” Perla explains.
History around every corner
For both students, it was very surprising to observe how different little everyday things are, for example, the journey to school. While at MCC most students commute every day from the surrounding cities by car, students from Masaryk live mostly in Brno and travel to school by public transport or train. They also greatly admired the scenery of the Czech Republic seen from the train window in the videos filmed by their Czech classmates, especially when some students commuted from farther away.
When they came to the Czech Republic and were able to see Brno and other places, such as Prague or Český Krumlov, they were even more excited. “If I had to say what was the best thing of all, it would be the amazing architecture, beautiful scenery, and nature. I have never seen anything like it – so many beautiful historical buildings, castles, and chateaus. Every place was so unique and full of history. Really amazing,” says Aaliyah.
In addition to the sightseeing programme, the students had standard lessons at the Faculty of Education, where they learned a lot of information about Czech history, literature, music and folk dances, language and the globally successful Czech businessman Tomáš Bat’a. They were also very happy to meet their Czech classmates and spend some time with them during their stay in Brno, even though they were in the middle of the exam period and had to study for exams.
The two-week stay in the Czech Republic passed very quickly, and the students are grateful to have experienced the newly established university cooperation. “Hybrid courses are a great concept; thanks to them, you don't miss too much time at home either. And at the same time it allows us to get to know the country more in depth thanks to the local students. A lot of things surprised us, too. For example, students in the Czech Republic have free education. And that medical care is also free, which was a very pleasant surprise for us as future medical professionals. We wish there was something like that in the USA, where people don't normally go to the doctor for financial reasons,” Perla and Aaliyah said.