Study tour helps academics walk in students’ shoes

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Global mobility programs are increasingly an invaluable component to university students’ study experience. Our University runs approximately 60 mobility programs across all five faculties.

STAMP participants at Fiji National University with the FNU Vice Chancellor and FNU mobility students
STAMP participants at Fiji National University with the FNU Vice Chancellor and FNU mobility students

Study Tour for Academics and Mobility Professionals (STAMP) is a professional development opportunity aimed at building the skills of Australian university academic and professional staff that work with global mobility programs.

Dr Margaret Harris, Program Convenor School of Nursing and Midwifery, recently attended STAMP in Suva, Fiji. The in-country host for STAMP was the registered charity, “think pacific.”

Margaret joined participants from ANU, ACU, WSU, UNSW, Griffith, and Uni SA and the mix of disciplines represented, including Health, Business, IT, Marketing, Social Science and Asian Studies, meant that the tour was a wonderful opportunity for cross institutional collaboration and exchange of ideas.

The week-long program was full with a mix of classroom workshops, visits to relevant local organisations, visit to Fiji National University (FNU) where they met the Vice Chancellor and heard about FNU student mobility experiences directly from students, guest speakers, cultural activities, and, a two day/one night cultural immersion at Daku Village on the island of Moturiki in the Lomaiviti archipelago, north of Suva.

One of the biggest challenges for all participants was the extreme humidity while staying at the village which made several participants sick.

Participants were able to learn first-hand about Pacific culture and the Australia-Fiji relationship.

Importantly participants were able to better understand the global student experience - including partner collaboration, local logistics, risk and safety, cultural engagement, and working in the Indo-Pacific and emerging economies. STAMP is an interactive and peer-led program, with expertise being shared by participants.

“Our meeting with the Fiji Ministry of Health’s National Advisor for Non Communicable Diseases Dr Isimeli Tukana was certainly one of my highlights. Dr Tukana did his Psychiatry rotation at Royal Newcastle Hospital in 1989 but had to leave early due to the earthquake. He told me he has very fond memories of Newcastle and body surfing each afternoon after work,” said Margaret.

“Another highlight was the visit to the Australian High Commission. I had the opportunity to ask the deputy High Commissioner, Anna Dorney, about her life experiences that led her to her current role.

“But the real value of the STAMP week for me was the opportunity to experience what it is like for my students to be on tour," said Margaret.

"The challenges such as the heat and cultural differences were real for me even though I have had a lot of cross cultural experiences, so it must be much more challenging for undergraduate students, especially those who have never been out of Australia before.

"I have developed a new empathy for our global mobility students."

STAMP 2021 will be held in Bangkok, Thailand.

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