While most of us were on summer holiday, a group of University of Waikato students were halfway around the world, combining study with an overseas experience.
Nine students from Te Kura Toi Tangata School of Education went to Denmark and Singapore in January and February on an International Professional Experience exchange.
The programme is open to second-year students enrolled in the Bachelor of Teaching (BTchg) (Primary) degree, who travel overseas just before the start of their third and final year.
The students did a four or five week practicum at the National Institute of Education in Singapore and VIA University College in Denmark.
Jasmine Campbell, Zac Corban and Heather Briscoe travelled to Denmark, while Isla McCutcheon, Chelci Zeeman, Paige Ellis, Aleesha Patel, Sam Harvie and Tamsyn Bush went to Singapore.
Jasmine Campbell taught English and Physical Education to intermediate and high school students at Aby Skole in Aarhus, Denmark. She enjoyed her time in the classroom, working with around 200 children across seven classes, with all lessons in English.
“We did get to teach a bit of te reo Māori, which was awesome,” says Jasmine, who is doing her (BTchg) (Primary) degree at the University of Waikato’s Tauranga campus. “I taught some of the students to count in te reo Māori, and they taught us in Danish.”
Other highlights of the exchange included exploring local museums and tourism attractions, and doing a homestay with a teacher from Aby Scole.
Samantha Harvie, a (BTchg)( (Primary) student from Hamilton, went to Singapore for five weeks. The classroom and curriculum were “definitely different to a New Zealand classroom”, and the experience opened her eyes to different approaches to teaching and the importance of Indigenous languages in the classroom.
“Each student had a compulsory subject called Mother Tongue, where they had to learn their cultural language - Malaysian, Tamil, or Chinese - as well as English so they essentially become fluent in two languages from a young age,” says Samantha.
The collaboration between Waikato’s School of Education and the National Institute of Education (NIE) Singapore and VIA University College in Denmark stretches back more than a decade. The relationships were established by a number of staff in the Faculty of Education, including former Associate Dean Teacher Education, Bev Cooper, who developed strong research connections with the two countries.
The teaching exchange programme, which first began in 2015, was on hold over the past two summers, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Dr Wendy Carss, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for the BTchg programme at Waikato, says the international teaching exchanges provide a valuable learning opportunity for students.
“They have a significant impact on our students, in terms of shaping their own professional identities as teachers,” says Dr Carss. “Through having the chance to become immersed in another culture and education system they are able to make comparisons in pedagogical approaches and to extend their understanding of education in multicultural and multilingual settings.
“Being able to experience different traditions and values through interacting with others far removed from their New Zealand context certainly enhances their overall confidence and competence as teachers.”
Dr Carss says the relationships with VIA Denmark and NIE Singapore, and other international universities, are important to the University of Waikato on many levels.
“These professional exchange programmes are part of the larger network of global collaboration opportunities which Waikato prides itself on and is constantly looking to extend. As well as enriching the student experience for both partner institutions, there is potential for staff to connect and to forge research collaborations.”
- To learn more about other global experiences on offer at the University of Waikato, visit the Global Experiences website.