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University of Mary student Ashley Becker talks recently from the Bismarck Municipal Airport about the nine-day trip to Poland she and six other classmates majoring in education are taking in order to visit schools and classrooms to learn and share experiences. 

A group of University of Mary students are visiting Poland for about a week to learn about the country's education system.

Seven education students — and recent graduates — in the Liffrig School of Education and Behavioral Sciences' Emerging Leaders Academy are taking the trip as a sort of service project and to get teaching experience in Polish classrooms.

The students will visit with Polish teachers to discuss how teaching styles compare between the two countries, according to Kim Marman, chair of the university's Department of Education.

"What we’re hoping to gain ... (are) some insights of what they’re doing with students in their classrooms that maybe we could bring back here as well," said Marman, who is joining the students on the trip.

On Wednesday, the students took a nine-hour flight from Denver to Munich, Germany, and then an hour flight to Krakow, Poland. They'll be in Poland until Thursday.

Marman's has ties to Poland, as her mother-in-law is from Poland. Another family member is a school administrator there, and she helped coordinate the trip.

The students first flew into Krakow, one of the larger cities in Poland, and then they will go to the town of Ruda Slaska. They have a meeting with the town's mayor, and then they'll visit a primary school, a secondary school and a university.

"Our students will actually be teaching in those Polish schools. They’ll be teaching American songs to some of the children and really looking at the comparison of American schools to Polish schools," Marman said.

Ashley Becker, who graduated from U-Mary this spring, said last week she was excited about the opportunity to experience another culture. The trip will help her and the other students become better educators, and it will be interesting to see the different levels of education in Poland, she said.

"They’re still recovering from communism in the sense of their education,” said Becker, who just got a job as a high school math teacher in Bowman.

For some of the students, including Becker, this is a second trip abroad as a student. Marman said the trip is the first time U-Mary students are traveling to Poland to specifically to do work with the schools, and, after the trip, she said there will be an assessment to determine whether to do more such projects in the future.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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