STEP Reflection Prompts
As you may recall from your STEP signature project proposal, your STEP signature project was designed to foster transformational learning—that is, learning that challenged you personally and helped you gain broader and deeper understandings of yourself, others, and the world around you. Please address the following prompts to help you reflect on your experiences completing your STEP signature project; please give careful and critical thought to your responses.
Name: Daniel Thomas
Type of Project: Education Abroad
- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
During my STEP Signature Project, I was enrolled in Global May Hungary 2016 – a month-long OSU program set in Budapest, Warsaw and Vienna. Throughout the experience, I was primarily able to engage with Hungarian history (coursework, self-arranged meetings with cousins living in Hungary) while exercising a personal interest in film production (created short film with classmates documenting the 1956 Revolution in Hungary).
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
Completing my STEP Education Abroad was a divergence from routine life more than anything else. Routines can be good – they have helped me do things like develop a strong work ethic and maintain physical fitness, but in certain areas the routines in my life have kept me less developed than I would like. When I reflect back on my study abroad experience, I recognize that my time abroad triggered a newfound initiative and perception of the learning process and new experiences, as well as the effects these two have on my intellectual and social development. In broader terms, my experience was transformative in that it provided me with opportunities to learn (as I will detail) in situations unavailable to me in my routine life. I strive to finish my time at OSU having gained skills and knowledge that will propel me on a life trajectory that is most fulfilling for me personally while being a positive influence in the lives of others.
I was in fact able to move towards these goals during my time abroad. I learned that I could add unique and transformative experiences to my life — as well as the lives of others — although doing so requires lots of forethought and hard work. The transformative experiences that I took part in during my STEP Project were creating a short film with my classmates and meeting my cousins living in Hungary. Both proved to be personally fulfilling and positive influences in the lives of others.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
The first of two highly influential components of my STEP Project was the production of a short film with my classmates. My group and I chose The 1956 Hungarian Revolution (revolt against Soviet influence) as our subject. This project offered me a unique combination of challenges. Primarily, these challenges can be summed up as working with a team to handle all stages of a production process and researching an unfamiliar historical event, and then depicting that information in a visual narrative. I used both my past experience in filmmaking and research skills practiced in the English major to help my group succeed.
In creating our film, my group and I researched the history of The 1956 Revolution via a variety of sources (text, online media, etc.). We then synthesized this information into a voiceover that told the narrative of events. We placed the voiceover on historical footage of the revolution that were publicly available on the internet. When appropriate, we would cut to present day memorials, buildings and public squares in which the revolution had taken place. With this backdrop, we were able to achieve the desired effect of not only summarizing the events of the revolution, but also examining how the event still influences Budapest. In all, the production required research, scriptwriting, location scouting, filming and editing — all of which are core elements of creating a film (something I wanted to practice). I’ve linked the video at the bottom of this page.
The second key experience I had was having the opportunity to meet my cousins that live in Hungary. I met my grandmother Irene’s niece, whose name is Gabi. Gabi’s mother (sister of my grandmother Irene) and Irene were the only members of their family to survive the Holocaust. While visiting my cousins I was able to bridge the gap in communication between Gabi and Irene via phone and FaceTime. It was personally rewarding for me to do this because Irene and Gabi were both very excited to to be in contact again after many years apart.
Irene has had a pretty extraordinary life as she was the first member of my family to emigrate from Hungary to the United States. Given her status as a Holocaust survivor and immigrant to the United States, she has experienced and overcome far more hardship than I ever have in my own life. Having the chance to learn more about her history adds perspective to my own life while offering a blueprint for true perseverance.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
The two areas in which my experience will be most beneficial are my personal and professional goals. One of the internships I interviewed for this past summer was at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Ultimately, I was not offered the internship, but the addition of the short film abroad will add to my portfolio for future production related internships.
Personally, my family and I were very happy to get in touch with our cousins in Hungary. I was also able to bring home some new documents and photos that detail our family history. On top of these specific experiences, I think I came away from my time abroad as a person much more eager to engage with others and explore new ideas – I think this attitude bodes well for me academically, personally and professionally.
Link to short film: https://youtu.be/VKJxmpVWv1k