Viewed from Moscow.
Here in Russia we have excellent Math education for secondary and high school mathkids which is a network of fulltime schools, Saturday schools at universities, annual events and competitions and holidays camps. Applying to MathPath my son was fully integrated into the community and many people here think that there’s nothing else to wish for a mathkid. However I was sure that international experience would be very important because new friends, teachers, methods, approaches, ideas make one feel connected to a bigger network and a bigger community.
Looking for an international summer Math program for my son I chose MathPath because having investigated the website I understood you are “my people” overseas. All words in “Why MathPath” and “Mission” corresponded with my vision of educating gifted children and my own mathnerd in particular.
Here in Russia it’s always important to keep balance if your child is fully integrated into Math community. It is incredibly seducing to use the developed “Russian MathMachine” to train for a rat-race sacrificing enjoyment and creativity. I see this as a destructive way, so I was looking for an enriching program which inspires a mathkid, shows him a bigger picture and provides a good balance of hard work and fun.
My son’s MathPath experience was as good as I had expected. You do educate kids. The program is well balanced. There is time for class work and independent work, there’s an optional competition without pressure, there are Olympiad training courses which you don’t have to take if you’re not interested, the choice of courses is rich and includes math related fun.
I had been worried about the language difficulties but it all went smooth. To other international parents I can state that all course material is visualized and explained clearly. What’s more the community is very friendly and my son didn’t feel alienated because of his accent or mistakes while answering questions. He also integrated into the community fast because everyone was very friendly and very "American" (I mean open to representatives of different cultures).
My son’s international educational experience also included a new style of breakout sessions. In Russia you should not speak out unless you’re sure your idea is great and well articulated. At MathPath kids do sort of brainstorming and are very active. I believe it’s a culture difference which is also great to see and learn. My son was surprised with the MathCounts and AMC model: here in Russia even basic tours of all Olympiads and competitions always require proofwriting. However, generally my son saw more similarities than differences in mathpeople and their behavior patterns here in Russia and at MathPath. I believe you are a nation, or a tribe as one parent stated in her feedback report.
An international student can also have a lot of cultural experience at MathPath. The trip to the Science museum in Boston was great. My son had visited some similar museums in Europe and it’s always interesting to look at a country and its culture from this angle. He also learned softball rules which was interesting even though he didn’t play. There was a funny case with the blueberry picking activity: signing up he expected to go to a wild forest as we do here in Russia and was surprised to be taken to a farm :-) At MathPath it was his first time to do a survey about the studies: in Russia getting feedback is not a common practice, we prefer to talk to staff and faculty in person when needed. my son’s English language fluency and oral speech comprehension have grown which I’m also happy with.
As a parent I enjoyed all the experience as well. Very friendly people, clear instructions, assistance in all problems with payment, insurance and travel, connection with alumni’s parents who shared their experience with me. My son’s luggage was lost in NY, but you did all the best to provide him with stationary and other things while he was waiting for the bag to be delivered. While my son was at the camp I received Executive Director’s reports weekly and checked the photostream daily which helped me to share my son’s joy about the experience and added important details to understanding camplife. My son’s counselor understood that because of the time difference we needed a different time for parental call and allowed it. This was important for our family.
My son loved the college sport facilities and evening activities. Good news: not everyone calls football "soccer" in the US and a lot of kids and adults play our type of football. The food was excellent quality and good choice. Here in Russia we don’t have any coke at camps or schools for health reasons but honestly my son was happy to have it. The accommodation was also very good: a single room is perfect for keeping your privacy and relaxing.
To sum up, I see MathPath program as sparkles at the knots of a network, at least it worked this way for my son. my son took some courses on topics he hadn’t heard before, he took a course on cryptology which he had got interested in after an invited professor gave a plenary in his school in April, and a course on a topic which he hadn’t got into in his mathcamp in Tula in May. He also saw new teaching methods and different teaching styles. He made new friends and they agreed to apply to MathCamp Canada/USA next year. I believe it’s important to feel connected and see variety of methods and personalities in any field you’re majoring in. That’s what a kid can definitely get at MathPath. I also believe some seeds will grow later because the experience was really intense and multidimension.
I hope that you were happy to have my son at MathPath and I also hope he contributed to the community.
With all my best wishes to the faculty and staff,
A Moscow Mom
Page created September 20, 2014
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