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Westminster students travel to Budapest for seminar

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Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2023

Six Westminster College students had an opportunity to travel overseas to Budapest, Hungary, for a seminar on comparative conceptions of charity and philanthropy prior to the start of the fall semester.

Hosted by the University of Jewish Studies in Budapest, the weeklong seminar welcomed students from the host school, Westminster and Western Galilee College in Israel.

Westminster students attending included seniors Victoria Harden, an individual interdisciplinary major and secondary education minor from Greensburg, Pa., and Ashley Tarter, a political science and English double major from Alliance, Ohio; juniors Christina Loewe, an international studies and political science double major and criminal justice minor from Austin, Texas, and Ellis Moore, a political science and psychology double major from Millington, Mich.; and sophomores Erin DaRe, a history major and interfaith studies minor from Mars, Pa., and Quinnlyn Reaver, a political science major and environmental studies minor from West Middlesex, Pa.

Dr. Michael Aleprete, professor of political science and director of Westminster’s Office of Global Engagement, served as program adviser to the Westminster students and accompanied them on the trip.

In the mornings, students participated in tours of local religious charities including the Hungarian Jewish Charity Hospital and a homeless shelter run by the Order of Malta’s Hungarian Charity Service. Afternoons were spent in class, where students learned about the traditions of charity and philanthropy in major religious traditions.

“This experience helped me develop an understanding of the social sciences relation to religion,” said Harden, an honors student who also received grant funding from Westminster’s Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research to attend the seminar. “It also taught me about some foreign cultures, which was not only interesting, but will be helpful in the future.”

“Their classroom cultural norms were very interesting to observe,” said DaRe. “From my perspective, they are much more accustomed to an open floor of discussion in the classroom. It was entirely normal for them to call out their opinion during the lecture or ask questions throughout, without doing something like raising their hand. It was fascinating.”

Outside of the classroom, students immersed themselves in the Budapest culture and visited many different sites including Buda Castle, the Great Synagogue, the city’s Jewish Quarter and the Hospital Under the Rock, a historical museum that was used as a hospital, and later a Cold War nuclear bunker, during the 20th century.

After returning from the seminar, each student was required to complete a research project on a charity from their home community. Students were required to conduct interviews and apply concepts learned in the seminar.

Funding for the seminar was provided by the Jewish Federations of North America, the Merkaz, the Jewish Agency of Israel and the Partnership2Gether Global Network.  

For more information, please contact Aleprete at