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New course offers hands‑on global skills development in Colombia

Posted by Faculty of Open Learning & Career Development on November 30, 2022 in Community Highlights
Dalhousie University Transition Year Program (TYP) graduates at Universidad Católica de Manizales in the city of Manizales, Colombia.
Dalhousie University Transition Year Program (TYP) graduates at Universidad Católica de Manizales in the city of Manizales, Colombia.

In the summer of 2022, a group of 13 Dalhousie University Transition Year Program (TYP) graduates spent two enlightening weeks of global skills learning at Universidad Católica de Manizales in the city of Manizales, Colombia. This first iteration of the TYP International Field Course provided participants with a variety of educational and cultural experiences from lessons in the Colombian cultural landscape, and democracy and peacebuilding initiatives, to community involvement with local elders and youth, and lessons in survival Spanish. The program, the first of its kind at the university, was made possible by funding received from Student Mobility Projects, Global Skills Opportunity, part of Employment and Social Development Canada. The funding will cover three annual cohorts of the TYP International Field Course.   The program was also made possible by the supportive and innovative partnership between Dalhousie University and our Colombian partner university, Universidad Católica de Manizales.  

The goal of the TYP International Field Course is to increase the global skills of participants, which are highly valued by employers—cultural awareness, cross-cultural communication, resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving. Dr. Dianne Tyers, Dean, Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development, shares, “We were so excited to hear we were successful in receiving this funding from ESDC for the TYP International Field Course.  I know the impact that international travel has had on my own global skills development and I am delighted that we are able to offer this opportunity to our TYP graduates over the next three years.”   

Prior to departure, participants completed a short, online global competencies course developed by the Faculty, as well as the university’s online course to prepare students for international travel. Once they returned from Colombia, participants completed a capstone project to consolidate all of their global skills learning from the course.

For many participants, the field course was their first opportunity to travel outside of Canada and the experience, while challenging, did not disappoint them. “I was interested in going on the study tour with the TYP program because I have not traveled very often during my life, and I wanted to experience the culture of Colombia. I was amazed by the beauty of the country. My expectations of the trip were exceeded by the overwhelming amount of love and gratitude we received from the University and the people in Manizales” said participant Tara Van Lunen.  

Another participant said this of their experience travelling to Colombia. “It's difficult to pick just one memorable aspect of our Colombia trip; what sticks with me to this day is the closeness of the group of students who went. The bonds we formed during those two weeks in Colombia are still strong. The numerous conversations we had as peers were extremely beneficial to my first year of classes for my Bachelor of Arts. Because I was a first-year student, I had a lot of questions about the program, classes, teachers, and what to expect. My Colombia trip peers were at various stages of their university careers, so they were able to provide valuable feedback and words of encouragement. I'd also like to highlight the beauty of the country and the kindness of the people. Manizales was named ‘the city of open doors’ and this did not waiver one time the entire trip.”

The course was developed by Hideyo Kawashima and Dr. Ayesha Mushtaq of the English Language Studies department at the Faculty of Open Learning along with the team at the Universidad Católica de Manizales, led by Director, Internationalization, Matias Marin.  The course was taught by Laura Herrera, an instructor with the English Language Studies department. The trip operations, complicated by COVID requirements, were coordinated by Natalie Burgoyne, and participants were supported throughout the trip in Colombia by chaperone Lucia Duarte Baron.   

Dr. Isaac Saney, who accompanied the participants to Colombia, feels the course accomplished its goals, “The Colombia study-tour was an amazing and a profound learning experience. It was an incredibly interesting time to be in Colombia, given the seismic political shift that occurred when the second round of the presidential elections was held on June 19. Enhancing the understanding and appreciation of this historic moment were the detailed lectures on Colombia's conflicted history, Spanish lessons, and Colombian culture”.

This course will be offered again in summer 2023 as part of the Transition Year Program. For more information on how you can participate in the course, please contact the professor responsible, Melanie Farrimond.