Because Hungary recently joined the European Union, Simonyi is exploring opportunities for business, educational and cultural exchanges between his country and the U.S. He came to RIT because of his interests in deafness and expanding international cooperation to improve the educational circumstances of deaf people in his country.
Simonyi said his grandfather worked at an institute for the deaf in Hungary, and as a result, members of his family learned sign language. He noted that education for deaf students in Hungary is about 40 years behind the U.S., and the country does not yet provide postsecondary education for deaf students.
Dr. James J. DeCaro, director of PEN-International, an NTID-managed effort to network colleges worldwide that educate deaf people, and to assist them with updating technologies and curriculum, discussed opportunities with Simonyi during his visit.
“We don't have a college like NTID or a program like PEN-International,” Simonyi said. “You should be very proud…this is a great university. I am impressed by how you focus on what students can do, not what they cannot. That's the right attitude.”
PEN-International, along with NTID faculty and staff, have worked closely with educators in Japan, China, Russia, the Czech Republic, Thailand and the Philippines, so that deaf college students in those countries can benefit through improved curriculum, increased access, new technology, multimedia labs, and trained faculty members.
"Perhaps our most important achievement is the growing number of faculty members who are successfully sharing their newly developed expertise within their respective countries," DeCaro said. "Hungary could be an excellent candidate for membership in our program. We will be exploring this possibility with the ambassador.”
For more information about PEN-International and its global partners visit www.pen.ntid.rit.edu.
NTID is the first and largest technological college in the world for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. One of eight colleges of RIT, NTID offers educational programs and access and support services to its 1,100 students from around the world who study, live and socialize with 14,400 hearing students on RIT's Rochester, N.Y., campus.
Web address: www.rit.edu/NTID.Visit www.rit.edu/NTID/newsroom for more NTID news.