Sunday, July 1, 2012

2012 McNair International Collaborative Concludes: 1 July

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Excursion to Plitvice Lakes: 30 June

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Today we spent the entire day at Plitvice Lakes.  Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia.  In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register among the first natural sites worldwide.

Friday, June 29, 2012

EAN Conference & U.S. Embassy Visit: 29 June

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The day started with the final day of the European Access Network Conference.  We watched Alen Delić from FOI serve as respondent to one of the panelist.  Alen did a great job speaking.  After Alen spoke we left the conference to visit the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb.  The scholars really enjoyed their time at the embassy.  Several of the scholars hope to keep in touch with Sita S. Sonty, Assistant Public Affairs Officer.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

European Access Network Conference: 28 June

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

International Student Forum & European Access Network Conference: 27 June

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After attending the conference all day we were treated to an evening in the botanical garden for an evening reception.  Because of its great educational, cultural, historical and tourist values, as well as its overall importance for the city of Zagreb and Croatia, the Botanical Garden of the University of Zagreb Faculty of Science has been protected since 1971 as a monument of nature and culture.

At the reception, the scholars had the great privilege to meet Dr. Arnold Mitchem, President of the Council for Opportunity in Education.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

SIS Catalyst Conference: 26 June

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Today the scholars had the opportunity to attend the SiS Catalyst’s Launch of Practical Guidelines and evening reception.  The event was held at  the Rectorat auditorium at the University of Zagreb.  SIS Catalyst as an organization is about change. SiS Catalyst takes a broad approach to science as inter-connected branches of learning, believing that “solutions to the big research questions of the future will be found through interdisciplinary working, free from the artificial boundaries that we have created between academic disciplines. At the heart of this is our collective learning at institutional level.”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Doviđenja Varaždin, 25 June

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Today we made our way to Zagreb for the start of the European Access Network Conference. On the way we stopped to visit the Trakoscan castle.  Alenka Bencek from FOI also assisted in pulling together everything for today. It is hard to say goodbye to Varaždin.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Togir & Zadar : 24 June

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We left the hostel in Split around 9am to travel home.  On the way were schedule to visit Togir and Zagar.  Trogir is an excellent example of a medieval town.

From here we traveled to Zadar.  Alfred Hitchcock once claimed that the sunsets in Zadar are the most beautiful in the world.  We were able to see the famous Church of St. Donatus and hear the sounds of the sea organ.

The sea organ is an architectural object and an experimental musical instrument which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps. The sea organ was created by Nikola Bašić.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Exploring Dubrovnik, 23 June

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.   We left our hostel in Split around 9am in order to make the 4 hour drive to Dubrovnik.  Along the way we were able to see different parts of the Dalmatian coast.  We stopped inside the border of Bosnia for a rest and some ice-cream.  We arrived in the’Pearl of the Adriatic’ around 1pm.  It was to great to have learned Dubrovnik’s history earlier in the week.  Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. It was damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict.  It is currently the focus of a major restoration program co-ordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Once side the city walls we went out separate ways to explore.  We met up for lunch and then a small group toured the city walls while other went shopping and swam in the sea.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Exploring Split, Croatia : 22 June

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On our way to Split we stopped in Šibenik. Šibenik is a historic town in Croatia, located in central Dalmatia where the river Krka flows into the Adriatic Sea. Here we visited the Krka falls.  Krka is considered one of the most beautiful cliff water falls in Europe.  Several of the scholars swam while other walked the picturesque trails.  We then loaded up the bus and traveled to Split. After checking into to the hostel we were off to explore Split.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last day of Varaždin Conference: 21 June

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. Our day began with a visit to Electrical High school Kola.  Here we met with faculty and students and learned about their energy saving sensor machine they created to reduce the cost of energy by 30%.  From here we visited the Regional County Government, led by Dr. Violeta Vidacek-Hains. We were provided insight on Varaždin’s influence on governmental and environmental issues.

After lunch, we had the final presentations of the conference and then held the closing ceremonies of the conference.  Each of the students were awarded a certificate of participation in the conference.  It was had to believe that the week filled with conference presentations and excursions was coming to an end.

We ended the day with a visit to the Entomological Museum (Entomoloski Odjel) which has an interesting collection of butterflies and other bugs, with almost 4500 exhibits. A large portion of the collection came from the museum founder, Franjo Koscec, who donated his personal collection.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Volunteering Activites: 20 June

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Today began with a visit to another primary school. It was great to learn more about the Croatian educational system.  We had the opportunity to see the facilities used by the astronomy club.  We headed back to FOI for additional conference presentations.  The first presentation was provided by Prof.dr.sc. Goran Bubaš. His presentation “Factor Analysis of Rules in Friendship: Relations with Personality Traits” was great and a welcomed additional to the conference.  The next two presenters were from DePaul and UCF.

Ryan Keifer, DePaul: “The (Classical) Male Gaze: Audience and Female Characters in Fifth‐Century Athens”

Christy Clarke, UCF: “Tuning In and Tuning Out: TV Distractions in Parent‐Infant Play Dyads”

After lunch we visited an elementary school in Petrijanec.  Here we assisted the teachers with some gardening activities in the school’s pumpkin patch. It was a great experience for the group to assist and learn about how they cultivated pumpkins and made pumpkin oil.  After a busy day, Alen Delic had prepared a “palaćinko night” (pancake night) at his apartment. This was the perfect opportunity for the group to learn how to say their longest sentence in Croatian.  Maja Lalic taught the group how to say, “Uzbudena sam što ću jesti palaćinko s nutella”, which translates into “I am very excited to eat pancakes with nutella!”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

“Poslije kiše uvijek dolazi sunce” – Day Three

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We started the day off with a visit to a kindergarten school and learned about the teaching methods within the Croatian kindergarten education system. They emphasized how they use a holistic approach to teaching. We then took a tour of the classroom and facilities.  In each room, we were welcomed by the staff and the children. When we entered the gym we were surprised by a group of 6-year olds that sang songs to us in Croatian and in English while they danced. It was amazing to hear that children begin learning English in kindergarten. After they performed they presented each of us with a drawing of a Croatian flower, attached to a heart on a stick with a little message attached that read:

Pokušajte pronaći nešto dobro u svakoj situaciji. Kao što stara izreka kaže:
“Poslije kiše uvijek dolazi sunce”
(Try to find something good in every situation. As the old proverb says:
“After the rain always comes the sun”)

After the kindergarten experience we went to the Old Town castle in Varaždin where we were able to explore how the castle may have appeared in the 17th century. The scenery and artwork was amazing. From here, we headed to lunch and then had a few presentations on the history of Croatia and information about the places we will visit soon in Croatia, such as Dubronik, also known as the pearl of the Adriatic sea. We also learned about the 8 national parks in Croatia and the wonderful waterfalls. After the presentations we all prepared for our evening  salsa and Croatian dance session. When we entered the room, we found children dressed in traditional Croatian costumes and some additional children playing instruments.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Opening Sessions of Conference: Day Two

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Today we started off the morning with the chance to meet with the FOI management board.  They were all very excited about our visit and shared with us the history of the university. Later that afternoon we were presented a very nice FOI pack back with some welcoming gifts.  We then officially started the 3rd Annual Student’s Symposium: Research Topics on Intercultural learning in the International Context.

The sessions began with presentations by Katrina Roundfield & Lindsey Back, DePaul University McNair Coordinators.  This was followed by Marcine Adams (DePaul) and Natalia Sepúlveda (UCF).  We were also provide historical information about Varaždin by Madalena Jovanovic and Alen Delić presented on the Croatian educational system.  Additional presentations were provided by Danijel Dadovic,  Neva Stopinsek and Kristina Kunstek.  After this we were treated to a traditional Croatian meal for lunch.  From here, we went on a bike tour of Varaždin and visited the TTS Sportski Centar Varaždin. It was a real privilege for us to meet the owner of the facility, Dr. Branko Ivanković, who is a world-famous soccer coach.  At the end of the tour the Varaždin cheerleading team greeted us.  We then visit the river Drava.  While we sat we played an interesting game. The game consisted of many people saying different syllables of a word while a person tries to guess what word is being said.

The final event of the night was watching Croatia play Spain in the Euro Cup.  It was great to sit in the town square watching the game with the Varaždin community.  Not sure how tomorrow can get any better.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dobro došli kući – Day One

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Our journey began as we collected our bags at the Zagreb International Airport. We were greeted by the FOI staff with a sign that read :” Dobro došli kući”  (Welcome Home).  This was a sign that was created a year again by one of our scholars Laura Adarve.

It was a great feeling to be able to introduce a new set of scholars to the amazing hospitality of Varaždin.  After we picked up the additional scholars from DePaul University we loaded up the cars and made our way to check in to our housing.  When we opened the doors with we greeted with a stocked refrigerator and lavender as a welcome gift. Once we were settled, we headed for lunch at Restaurant Park.

Our first day in Varaždin was more than we imagined.  After months of preparing, it is great to finally be here. At the end of a long day, we headed back to the dorms and prepared for the next day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bags are packed and we’re ready to go……

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The day has arrived and we are leaving to take part in what we hope will be a life-changing experience. Croatia here we come.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Additional Highlights: Varaždin, Croatia

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What distinguishes Varaždin from other Croatian cities is the extraordinarily rich monumental and artistic heritage that is contained within its beautifully preserved Historic Core. Within the relatively small area of the Old Town are preserved palaces, important public buildings, Baroque, Rococo, Classicist and Secessionist houses and villas and one of the oldest City Halls in Europe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Varaždin, Croatia

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The City of Varaždin is located in the North of Croatia on the southern bank of the River Drava. What distinguishes Varaždin from other Croatian cities is the extraordinarily rich monumental and artistic heritage that is contained within its beautifully preserved Historic Core. Within the relatively small area of the Old Town are preserved palaces, important public buildings, Baroque, Rococo, Classicist and Secessionist houses and villas and one of the oldest City Halls in Europe.