Nyack Alumnus Missionary to Hungary Lauds MS TESOL Program

Posted by Diana.Nygard on Monday June 2, 2014

Nyack Alumnus Missionary to Hungary Lauds MS TESOL Program

Russell Chun is a December 2013 graduate from Nyack College’s MS in TESOL program, studying under Dr. Frank Tuzi. Originally from the Hawaiian Islands, Russell is a retired Army officer, serving from 1981 until his retirement in 2005. At that point, he and his family moved to Hungary as missionaries where they now serve in GoodSports International, having also founded its companion English language school Logos Nyelviskola. The motto of this organization, which serves orphans, widows, and refugees, is “For the body, sports. For the spirit, hope.”

In addition to his MS in TESOL with Nyack College, Russell has also earned a Master of Arts in International Relations with a Boston University overseas program, a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and German with the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and is now taking coursework in Biblical Studies at Nyack College.

We invite you to enjoy the following interview with Russell, some photographs, and a video he shares with us called “New Testament Relevance in GoodSports”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OQKoO3iBO0.

 Russell talks about his ministry in Hungary, and how his MS in TESOL at Nyack College has opened up new doors for him!

1.Please describe your residency in Hungary.

I moved to Hungary in June 2005 upon retiring from the U.S. Army after 23 years. I was a volunteer for many years with GoodSports International (see www.goodsportsinternational.org). Upon retirement, I joined the organization as a full time volunteer and served as the International Director. 

Initially, my wife, Trudy, and Andrea Noelani (Andi, then aged 4) and I moved to Mikepércs, Hungary, a village of 5,000 people south of Debrecen near the Romanian border. Since then we have adopted two children Nikoletta Kalohelani (Niki, adopted at age 6) and then Levente Kekoa (Levi, adopted at age 10).  The children are now all 13, 13, and 13 (yes, they are virtual triplets and I am in need of prayer for the teen years!).

2.What caused you to initiate a relationship with Nyack College and enroll in its MS TESOL program?

I thought that as a U.S. Army Officer experienced in training soldiers I would be able to teach English. After four months in a classroom with 4th graders, I discovered that I was clueless in the classroom! I clearly needed to find an institution that could help me online. Carol Ann Freeman had done a theological paper on missions in Hungary and had included some of my comments. I asked her about NYACK (which I was sure stood for something like New York A…C…K…). The Veterans Administration also updated me and said that NYACK was a legitimate program for my VA benefits (nice).

3.Why did you choose the non-certification track in obtaining your Master’s degree? What opportunities did it open to you? Did it prevent you from taking advantage of any opportunities?

I choose the non-certification track because I was told that this was for missionaries working in TESOL. The TESOL degree has opened many doors for me. 

1)  It has made me a better teacher, and I am better able to plan and organize English lesson plans for children in our sports programs.

2)  As the founder for the Logos Nyelviskola (Language School), it has made me a better support person/resource person for the teachers and staff.

3) Prior to my degree, the local primary school refused to let me work with the English teachers there (the teachers wanted me, but the principal refused). Now I can help the teachers whenever I have the time (or when I have teams who desire to experience teaching English in a primary school setting). 

4) Since I did my Nyack practicum in the Csokonai Gymnasium (High School: 9th, 10th, and 11th grade), I can inform other high schools of my teaching experience there. This makes me more attractive as an English teacher with teaching experience in Hungary. Now there are too many opportunities, and I really have to manage my time so as to not burn out!

5)  Because of the degree I have also been asked to develop the English Curriculum scope and sequence for the new Baptist Talentum School in Teglaskert. I will do an “English Club” for the children at least once a week.

4.How did the MS TESOL non-certification program prepare you for teaching outside of the United States? Or, how did the program better equip you to serve overseas?

It enabled me to provide schools with my degree qualifications. While this does not necessarily meet with government approval (meaning that I am not a qualified teacher according to Hungarian standards), most schools seem to be comfortable with the Nyack degree format. Now that I am a qualified teacher, I am able to get top price for my English Teaching Services.  All the money I make goes into GoodSports Hungary as a donation and goes to paying the staff of our Language School.

5.You are involved in several ministry venues in Hungary. What are they and what do you do? How did you go about getting involved with these ministries?

There are two primary ways that we reach out to kids/parents/communities.

  1. GoodSports Hungary has developed a hybrid English/Sports camp for summer.  This combination invites kids who want to play and allows parents to spend money on something that may have an educational benefit. 
  2. Because summer must come to an end, the Logos Language School was developed to find and engage students where they are – in the schools! The TESOL program has introduced me to several schools, administrators, and teachers who now give me (and Logos teachers) access to their students.

6.How do you see a connection between your work in Hungary and your MS in TESOL through Nyack College?

MS in TESOL has given me greater access in primary schools, high schools, and colleges. In the Hungarian Reformed Seminary, theological students will now be given the opportunity to participate in an English Conversation Class. Without the MS degree they would not even have given me the appointment to pitch the concept. But we start in September! All around, I am more QUALIFIED and thus a valued commodity in a “degree focused” society.

7.What advice would you give prospective students about pursuing a Master in Education degree of any type at Nyack College?

FOR MISSIONARIES: If you have the time (and money), it might be nice to go for the certified program at Nyack. In hindsight, I wish I had considered this option sooner. At some point most missionaries return to the States, and having this already done would be a boon. However, many missionaries intend to stay overseas forever, so it is all case-dependent.* But at the same time, the time spent on these studies did take me away from missions work. Trying to balance the mission work and school work – PLUS family life was VERY difficult. It is essential that your spouse, family, and coworkers understand the stresses of the degree program. They really will need to be supportive.

* Editor’s note: Since the matter of teacher certification is so case-dependent, all prospective Education students are advised to discuss program options with their admissions counselor and advisor about the best program suitable for them.