2022. July 20.
While for most students it is time for relaxing and having a break as the summer hits but at the University of Szeged, organizers were busy getting ready for welcoming students from all around the world for the first-ever Coursera Summer Camp which was held from the 12th of July until the 15th in Szeged, Hungary.
With the Coursera for SZTE programme, the University of Szeged tried to seize this unique opportunity to organize something extraordinary after the misery of the pandemic which was marked by social distancing, a halt to international travel, and cancellations of any in-person events. The main concept came from one of the organizers, who thought of incorporating the possibility of online learning, such as Coursera, into a traditional summer camp that all children had experienced in their youth which would result in something unique that no one has done before.
‘The fusion of a classic summer camp from our childhoods and the 21st century’s world of online learning will create a remarkable experience for university students. It will bring back a feeling of familiarity paired with something unusual and new.'’ - Said Erika Koncz, the inventor of the idea.
‘Our goal as organizers is that the first Coursera Summer Camp will be about learning and growing.’ - Said Lilla Kocsis, head of the project for e-learning from the University of Szeged.
The university's students who came from all over the world from Brazil to China were selected by a points criteria weighing in the completed courses on Coursera.
Each day had a particular theme to it with related courses, lectures, and activities.
Tuesday’s theme: problem-solving
- To kick off the summer camp, Péter Szakál, the head of the Directorate of Academic Affairs gave an opening speech then Ben Schneider, Customer Success Manager from Coursera joined online to welcome the participants. After that, the students completed the Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Coursera course by Rob Stone from the University of California. The Coursera Summer Camp’s first day ended with a city tour of Szeged.
Wednesday’s theme: interviews and CVs (and getting ready to land a job)
- The day started with a lecture where EPAM’s Recruiters Rebeka Zerebelyi and Tamás Hajdú held a workshop-like lecture about their company, the importance of LinkedIn, and how you can make the most out of your CV by taking advantage of your Coursera certificates. In the afternoon the participants were invited to the Botanical Garden of Szeged where they could enjoy the relaxing outdoor environment and could socialize with each other.
Thursday’s theme: learning and public speaking
- The morning was started by Éva Kuruczleki who held an engaging presentation about data visualization and its importance in today’s world. During the day the students had the opportunity to raise their voices on social and educational topics in the form of a spectrum debate. They could express their opinion about certain matters by choosing whether they strongly agree, disagree or somewhere in between. Later in the afternoon, the students were welcomed by Luca Csák, President of Toastmasters International, and Toastmasters Club Szeged, who gave an extensive lecture on the importance of public speaking. She also gave the participants some tips and tricks on how to improve their current skills. The day ended with students enjoying a board game night which included the well-known party game, Activity.
Friday’s theme: farewell
- Participants enjoyed the great weather of Szeged in the morning in the form of a picnic. Unfortunately, as much as everyone enjoyed this brilliantly organized camp, it had to come to an end in the form of a closing ceremony. Students were awarded certificates for their participation by Péter Szakál, Director for Academic Affairs.
During the picnic, the organizers, namely Erika Koncz, Anna Kovács, and Alex Berczeli-Nemcsényi had the chance to interview some of the participants.
- Which program had the biggest impact on you?
‘I’d like to highlight Thursday’s Spektrum-type debate. It was interesting because we are at different levels of our education like Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD and we bring different knowledge from that. This type of debate is a great way to deliver your opinion in a more controlled, less complicated atmosphere.’ - Ren Jihua
- Why would you recommend the Coursera Summer Camp to future applicants?
‘It’s an opportunity to look behind the scenes of the Coursera courses you take. Meeting with international students who have different points of view and come from different cultural backgrounds is also a perk of attending the Coursera Summer Camp. Having a different perspective on things and intercultural differences creates space for amazing discussions. Also, the food is great.’ - Axel Uhalde
During the 4-day summer camp, the participants had the opportunity to improve their problem-solving and public speaking skills, participate in a CV workshop, and also they were able to get a taste of data visualization.
‘We are beyond delighted to have had the opportunity to host such a ground-breaking and well-organized summer camp. With events like this we hope that Coursera can be brought closer to the everyday, offline life of the students.’ - Said Péter Szakál at the closing ceremony.
Article by: Anna Kovács