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Eastern European Topics at the Student Research Conference

12/1/2010 —

Projects at November’s Student Research Conference featured a topics that focused on Penn State Greater Allegheny’s Teaching International theme of Eastern Europe. Videos and posters made by students working both individually and in groups from a variety of different fields and courses were on display in the Ostermayer Room on November 18. The following features just a sample of the Eastern European themed projects from the conference.

Students Caroline Burke and Carolyn Edwards from Dr. Breckinridge’s Theatre 282 course presented a poster describing their Eastern Europe themed class objectives. The duo extracted the plots of some of the region’s well known folk tales to develop into plays.

“We wrote the scripts, interviewed for parts and directed the students in their pantomiming,” Caroline explained.

Folk tales like Hungary’s “The Magic Doctor,” Russia’s “Baba-Yaga” and Poland’s “The Dragon of Krakow” were passed down orally like many legends and fairy tales and, while they can seem exaggerated and fantasized, they reveal aspects of life in that part of the world.

“These stories are usually about the hierarchy. They were told from the peasants’ point of view. They weren’t meant to be told to children but, rather, around a fire,” Carolyn said.

Dr. Kobylanski’s Marketing 450w course was well represented as a number of students investigated the progress and impact of American companies in Eastern Europe. Clayton Delaney, Breanne Lilja, Anna Maksin and Zach Rowe noted the “green” efforts of UPS in Romania. The group explained that higher gas prices in Eastern Europe led the shipping company finding new alternatives to automobiles, including the use of bicycles, to deliver packages.

Matt Kiss examined the influence that Coca-Cola and Marlboro had on citizens in Poland. “Coke basically capitalized on their revamped economy” Matt said. “They reinvested in bottling companies in the country.”

Yet another Marketing group comprised of Allison Haag, Kevin Hammerstrom, Shannon Kovac and Don Shulock indicated the differences in approach that fast food giant McDonald’s takes in Poland compared to here in America.

“One thing we noticed was how differently they advertize there. They target different demographics.” Allison said. “[The food] is a little more expensive in Poland. They have a few different menu items and appeal to local tastes, but McDonald’s is still marketed as a fast food restaurant” Don added.

Dr. Brown displayed short documentary films made by students in her Marketing 310 class at the conference, too. Groups of four to five students worked to capture and upload video and edit footage down to three to four minute documentaries which kept within the themes of Eastern Europe and human rights.

One group, represented by Alyssa Lapinski, took an in-depth look at the Katyn Forest massacre. They interviewed Penn State Beaver professor and expert on the topic, Dr. Szymczak (some may recall his visit early in the Fall semester to lecture on the Katyn Forest massacre), and had the challenge of editing roughly forty-five minutes worth of footage down to less than five.

Other groups included Chris O’Neal’s, which addressed the large numbers of domestic violence cases in Ukraine, and Breanne Lilja’s group’s look at the world of Russian “mail-order brides” complete with interviews with fellow students and faculty members on the topic.

A documentarian herself, Dr. Brown was pleased with the final products of her students. “It’s very fulfilling as a faculty member to enlighten students through marketing concepts and to have them engage in film and video productions that brings light to human rights issues in Eastern Europe.”

Story by Daniel Koenig

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