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Otterbein MSAH students teach in Hungary for capstone project

Otterbein MSAH students teach in Hungary for capstone project

“The biggest difference between Americans and Hungarians is that in Hungary people walk and or bike everywhere. While wellness from a physical standpoint doesn't seem to be at the forefront of their minds it is built into their daily lives,” said Thomas Bambach, a student in Otterbein’s Master of Science in Allied Health (MSAH) program.  

Two of the total 35 graduate students in the MSAH program, Bambach and James Huddleston, took their capstone project to an international audience recently. Both students are in the exercise and health science track. Along with program director Paul Longenecker, they traveled to Szeged and Mako, Hungary, to lead Hungarian students at the American Summer Institute. Otterbein was invited to participate as a result of Longenecker’s previous participation as faculty.

Bambach, who is also Otterbein’s cross country coach, explained how Otterbein students added to the discourse. “The focus of the summit was on leadership and wellness and how these two topics interact in a modern world. We took information learned within our classes and created a curriculum that was designed around understanding the world around you and how to best influence it from a leadership position,” he said. “Traditional Hungarian educational methods are very lecture focused, so we did our best to get them out of their seats and working on various projects in groups.”

Each day started with an exercise session lead by Bambach and Huddleston. Classes were very interactive involving all the students, with the goal of the activities to utilize all aspects of the wellness circle. 

“Wellness as we framed it was not something that the students were familiar with. Normally, wellness is equated with physical components, but wellness in its true context includes emotional, social, mental, spiritual and environmental wellness,” Longenecker explained.  

The curriculum that Bambach and Huddleston built focused on content discussed in MSAH classes and built on previous days’ content. Teams were put together around areas of interest such as business, art and culture, education, and health. Longenecker explained that the physical component of wellness for Hungarians is easier to evaluate, since their travel habits are more physical.

“Walking and biking to get places is the norm. Many people do not have a car and mass transit is part of their day. Physical fitness is not an added on component of life but part of the daily routine,” he said.

Longenecker said that the students were very well received and made to feel welcome.  When in Budapest for the last two days, they stayed with a former institute student from 2008, a medical physicist for GE. For many on the trip, the real value was developing relationships, applying content from the MSAH curriculum and understanding cross-cultural education. Based on the experience, the hosts have invited Otterbein students back next year. Longenecker said that an exchange on alternating years has been discussed.

Because of his experience in Hungary, Bambach said he has clearer goals.

“The trip really showed me that I would like to continue to pursue opportunities in the leadership theory and study field.“

Students will present their Hungary capstone project from 1-2:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14, in the Center of Health and Sport Sciences room 115, 140 Center St., Westerville. The public is invited to attend.


For more information about the Master of Science in Allied Health program, visit the Otterbein Graduate School website and the MSAH Facebook page.