This profile was prepared when Ildiko Szigeti was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Ildikó Szigeti recognized that there is an increasing demand and need by Hungarian students to travel abroad and interact with foreign students in order to build their own civil society as well as to further their educational interests. Unfortunately, prevailing economic constraints make it very difficult for the vast majority to fulfill their dreams. Fortunately, the appetite for exchange is reciprocal: university students from the United States, the United Kingdom and other Western countries have a great interest in studying and traveling in Hungary and other Central and East European countries. In response, Ildikó has used technology to develop a cutting-edge, unique program called X-CHANGE to facilitate interchanges, at a relatively low cost, between students from Central and Eastern Europe and their counterparts in the West.X-CHANGE uses the Internet and electronic mail (e-mail) to build the necessary bridges that achieve its programmatic goals of helping students get to know other cultures better by providing them with international contacts: facilitating members' travel by establishing a system through which students can find free accommodation in each others' countries and giving students the opportunity to practice foreign languages in a native environment.