Neenah trip leads Hungarian to fund others
Foundation helps Global Outreach student exchange
By Tony Staley
For more information on Global Outreach, contact Mary Piette, Director and Program Administrator, at (920)727-1207 or by e-mail at [email protected], or through their website, www.globaloutreachprogram.com.
Five years ago, Miklos Tomcsanyi of Budapest graduated from St. Mary Central High School, Neenah. He's now working to see that more Hungarian students do the same.
To make that hope a reality, Tomcsanyi has started a foundation to increase awareness of Global Outreach, the Catholic student exchange program based in Neenah, which sponsored his year at St. Mary Central in 1999-2000.
The foundation will give Global Outreach an official status in Hungary, said Tomcsanyi, who was in Green Bay after a two-month research session on computer science and electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame.
The foundation's five-member board includes Tomcsanyi as well as Nandor Ulicxak and Orsolya Ligeti, former exchange students at Xavier High in Appleton.
The foundation will increase awareness of Global Outreach and its value by arranging talks
between exchange students and potential students, making presentations and meeting with principals of Hungary's 35-40 Catholic high schools.
"My hope is to involve as many returning alumni as possible," said Tomcsanyi, who hopes to receive a master's degree next year from the Catholic University of Hungary.
Every year, about 20 students from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia attend Catholic high schools in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska through Global Outreach. About 30 U.S. students attend a two-week summer camp in one of the eastern European nations. The foundation will organize the summer camp when Hungary is the host.
Since Global Outreach was started in 1991, some 300 students from central and eastern Europe have attended U.S. schools, including St. Mary Central, Xavier, Notre Dame in Green Bay, Lourdes in Oshkosh and Roncalli in Manitowoc. Of the 20 exchange students who participate each year, 2-3 are from Hungary, said Tomcsanyi, who wants to increase both the number and quality of Hungarian students.
Tomcsanyi is the second member of his family to participate in Global Outreach. An older brother, Andras, who later died of cancer, attended in 1996 in Omaha.
Tomcsanyi first became aware of Global Outreach at age 10. That was when the leader of his Regnum Marianum (Mary's country) group - a 100-year-old Catholic youth group based on the model of small Christian community - enrolled.
He said that his experience at St. Mary Central convinced him that everyone should have that opportunity.
"It was a good English learning experience," he said. "It was exciting to observe young
American adults' faith lives. I saw many who knew what they believe and are on top of it. I saw others who did not know or care. I was able to see how the school and campus ministry handled the pastoral needs through retreats, spiritual talks and school Mass."
And, he said, he received a good education, including the opportunity to engage in numerous science experiments.
"I went home from here with only one thing on top of my mind: This is an experience everyone should have."
Because Global Outreach is a small, church-based group, it makes all the difference, Tomcsanyi said. The leaders "care for you. You are not left alone. They look out for you. They ask questions on how you're doing and want to know what's up. You can look to them if you have problems."
Because it is Catholic, he said, "we have common ground and we share the same vision. That is something no other program has."