Alumni Spotlight: Dave Dunster

Dave Dunster graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Geography and post-graduate Teacher’s Certification from the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. He worked for two years on-call in elementary schools and as a part-time teacher at a high school teaching English, Social Studies and Personal Planning. He moved to Budapest with his wife and two daughters in the summer of 2011 to teach English, Math, Geography and Physics in a bilingual program in Budapest, Hungary.

Family in Hungary

What was a highlight of your trip?

Dave: I thought the students would be different from those I taught in North America (I taught grades 5 – 10 near Vancouver, Canada), but I have found it is the school system that is unique; children are almost universal. That said, my most rewarding experiences have been in seeing how children raised in a different school system respond differently to different activities. Creative drawing projects in Hungary have been a flop, but students here get very excited about memorizing and competing against their peers. Every activity I’ve done where the students have gotten more out of it than I thought has been a highlight.

To choose a personal highlight is nearly impossible; so much has had more value than I can ever express. However, as a family living in a foreign country, one of my favorite things is when people say they think my daughters were born in this country. They have adapted and learned so much, I am humbled by their knowledge of the language and culture and I rely on them often to help me seamlessly navigate daily life.

Describe your typical morning as a teacher with CETP in Hungary.

Dave: Four out of 5 days a week I teach morning lessons (1-3) at a nearby high school. As a morning person I prefer to wake up early and review my lesson handouts before printing and copying them at school. I am able to leave my house a minimum of 20 minutes before the lessons start as I live very close to my school, and have no special office or space to maintain there. After one or two lessons I travel by bicycle or bus (weather dependant) to an elementary school where I spend the rest of my teaching hours.

Man eating a scorpion

What about your afternoons?

Dave: I arrive to teach 3-5 lessons a day at my elementary school after teaching lessons at a high school 3 km away. Most lessons I teach are pre-planned with a Hungarian teacher and then taught together in the classroom. Planning time requires reviewing a text book with a co-teacher and deciding who will teach what content and in what order. I decide how I want to teach the given topic or learning outcome outside of shared planning times. In the afternoon I either return to the high school to review topics and plan for future lessons or run an extra-curricular drama club at my elementary school.

And evenings?

Dave: As a family man, my evenings are devoted first and foremost to duties at home. Once the children are in bed it is necessary to spend 2-3 hours a night preparing for the next day or future lessons. Half of my courses do not have translations for the texts and I am often required to supplement lessons with independently researched topics. On weekends I spend 2-6 hours preparing for the coming week, but make sure to schedule time for myself; exploring, traveling or catching up with family back home.