Mahala (south african slang, derived from Zulu, meaning free(of charge))
It is nice to wake up to birds´ singing. Postgraduate Village, where I live, is located on The NMMU South Campus, which was declared a private nature reserve in 1983. NMMU is the only university in South Africa situated on a nature reserve. Here you can spot animals like grysbok, zebra, springbuck, honey badgers and others.
Port Elisabeth, also known as The friendly city, is also called The windy city. Today I experienced for the first time since arriving, how windy it actually can be here. It was nice however to take a walk through the campus before today´s meetings, accompanied by monkeys and badgers.
Professor George de Lange, the Director of the Centre for Academic Engagement and Collaboration at NMMU, whom I had my first meeting with, presented his areas of expertise include university-industry engagement, work integrated learning and quality assurance. He has published in the fields of university engagement and work integrated learning. George explained what lies behind the successful institutionalisation of engagement at NMMU. A few examples of enabling factors are that engagement is recognised as an important core function that is integrated into the other core functions of the university; inclusion of engagement in the mission statement and strategic plan of the NMMU, the ability of the institution to combine discipline based knowledge, technology and innovation to respond to external problems, universities campuses being located at multiple sites and being user friendly, policies that recognise the existence and value of multiple types and forms of knowledge as well as policies that acknowledge the value of multiple modes/sites of knowledge production.
This interesting and informative visit was followed by a meeting with professor Cheryl Foxcroft, executive dean at Higher Education Access and Development Services. Especially interesting was her presentation about her research regarding ethical issues in psychological testing in Africa. The core ethical consideration of how to best cater for cultural and linguistic diversity so as to be sensitive to test-takers’ cultural backgrounds and values during the testing process.
One of my last and most interesting meetings with NMMUs staff was with Marina de Jager, senior staff member at Student Counselling, who shared her experiences of The Peer Help Programme with me. It was really inspiring to hear about the programme. The aspects of their peer helping training are: core training in communication and helping skills, follow-up training in other („generic‟) peer helping skills (portfolio management, project management and diversity management) and follow-up training in programme specific skills (peer wellness mentoring, career guidance, academic / learning skills). A few years ago Marina helped and guided Gothenburg University in the development of the university´s mentor programme. I really wish we can develop some cooperation with Marina and her colleagues in the future.
After this intensive week of touring the different campuses at NMMU and sitting in on lots of meetings, it was time to round off this interesting and little different work week at NMMU with my wonderful colleagues at the International Office. I am really grateful for their incredible hospitality and generosity in every way. I hope they will visit us at Malmö University soon.
The final day of my visit to NMMU I was invited to join a wonderful tour to the city and its surroundings. On our way through The Cape Recife Nature Reserve I could observe zebras, grysboks and a springbuck. I really liked the city and especially the friendly people here. Now I am on my way to Cape Town. Let´s see if its people are as friendly as in PE. 😉
Have a nice day wherever you are! 🙂