Molo! Day 3 at NMMU South Africa

Molo! (means Hello in Xhosa, one of eleven official languages in South Africa)

People people people… New encouters, new experiences, new insights. Exciting stories.

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Today I spent the whole morning at The Student Counselling, Career and Development Centre (SCCDC), where I met Dr Maud Ntanjana, Dr Hanna von Lingen, Kameshnee Ramasamy, Ruth Connely and others. I had the prevelige of presenting Malmö University´s Study and Career Centre for a this courios and interested group of counsellors att NMMU. We had very interesting discussions about the significance of guidance and counselling of students of all ages, and how important role counsellors play in schools, universities and community as a whole. We also exchanged our views on the imortance of a research-led counselling. You would notice that you met with the genuine counsellors since it was my turn to answers all the (open) questions. Pure pleasure.

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After our morning meetings Maud, the manager of SCCDC, drove me to the university’s Missionvale Campus located on the outskirts of Port Elisabeth´s suburban centre, where I spent the whole afternoon with Lungsi Ntlokwana and her staff. Siya, future counselling psychologist, who is doing her internship at Counselling Centre on Missionvale Campus took me on a nice campus tour. It was amazing to see that this modern Capus was located just next to Missionvale townships, that are still made up largely of shacks. Location, location, location. 

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Later I met with a group of high schools pupils from disadvantaged schools who were to attend a career workshop. These pupils spent about 3 hours at Student Counselling Centre on Missionvale Campus in career programme which helps them identify their personality, interests and values and guides them towards a career decision, and provides them with career information. What a wonderful initiative! 

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After another day full of impressions I had to go for a evening run on the beach. I am exhausted and yet so pleased.

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Good night wherever you are! 🙂 

Get off your umtarara. Day 2 at NMMU South Africa

Get off your umtarara and make things happen! – Motto of the day.

Another day at NMMU filled with interesting meetings with committed people and stories about students making a difference, and the staff making it happen.

This morning I spent some time at the Study Abroad Office with Mona Lisa Ndwayana and Jade Mentor who told me about their hard work with orientation program for international students.

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Later I attended First Year Architecture student workshop presented by Gino Frenchman, Academic Development Professional of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Media. Afterwards we had some interesting discussions about the importance of first year experience for students.

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So exciting!  But no room for reflection yet; I had to rush to my next meeting, this time with Dr Jennifer Winstead, at the Higher Education Access and Development Services. She proudly presented her work with The Co-curricular Record, now official document that recognizes a student’s out of classroom experiences.The co-curricular activities and recognition is verified by the relevant departments and the document can be used when applying for jobs and further studies.

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My next meeting was with Kim Elliot, Senior Manager in Leadership Training and Development in Students Governance. I was really blown away with Kim´s story and her passion for helping students. Among other things Kim is one of the facilitators behind Beyond the Classroom (BtC) programme BtC which started in 2009 as a voluntary leadership programme for students at NMMU. ”Get off your umtarara” – an amazing story.

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I must admit I had a hard time leaving Kim but I had to attend another meeting this late afternoon. This time with Dave Jenkings, Director of Centre for Access Assessment and research. Although I was extremely tired, I was not disappointed, and it was thanks to Dave’s warm reception and his interesting presentation.

No energy left for sightseeing today either, unfortunately, but it was worth it! I’m sure I will sleep well tonight. Good night from Port Elisabeth wherever you are!

Ubuntu. Day 1 at NMMU South Africa

Diversity, Excellence, Ubuntu, Intergity, Respect for the natural environment, Taking responsibility – the values of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. I feel like I am home.

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I am sitting and relaxing in my apartment in the Postgraduate Village in Port Elizabeth after my first, incredibly exciting day at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. I’m tired and it’s late but nevertheless I will try to collect my thoughts after all the exciting meetings today. I am overwhelmed by the fantastic reception I received from the colleagues at NMMU. My day began with my guide for the day, wonderful Nonto, picking me up at my guest house and taking me to the International office where I had several meetings with their staff, including Kate Mey, Manager of International Partnerships and Tohiera Moodien Snr Manager in the International Student Admin. They told me about the important work they do in terms of the reception of international students and staff. It was inspiring to see how dedicated they are to helping and encouraging  students with different cultural backgrounds to engage with outside community . We discussed our universities` visions and our way of working, and came to the conclusion that despite the geographical and cultural distance we work towards very similar goals and face similar challenges. For those who is interested in more details I will gladly tell more about the discussions when I am back home in Malmö in a couple of weeks.

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After these interesting talks I got introduced to International Office Staff by Janine Wagenaar, who, by the way, is responsible for arranging my whole visit here and she is doing a wonderful job. 

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Then the morning meetings followed by lunch talks with Kate about living in South Africa and a Campus Tour with Nonto. I had the privilege to see the vice chancellor office in the Main University Building and the amazing view over Port Elisabeth. 

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Then I spent the whole afternoon with Johan van Rensburg, Study Abroad Outgoing and Short Programmes Assistant and Claire Dullisear, Short Programmes Coordinator. They told me about the amazing projects they work with. You can find more info about their projects here: http://international.nmmu.ac.za/Short-Programmes-International-Summer-Programmes/Community-Service-Learning

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Truly satisfied I rounded up the workday by visiting a supermarket together with Nonto, who helped me pick up typical South African groceries and delicacies. On top of everything I saw a couple of monkeys on my way back to my apartment and was advised to keep my food locked away since the monkeys would steel it otherwise. 🙂

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That would be all for tonight. Good night everybody, wherever you are.

PhD dissertation

Yesterday I attended a PhD dissertation at the academy of science. Lilit Zakaryan was part of the committee. As usual in the room there is a long desk, two men sitting behind it. The first 2 rows of the public was full of men, all in costume, all of them had a microphone. No one had a computer in this lecture room! There was an introductory talk in Armenian (all the dissertation was in Armenian), then the student presented his thesis orally (no slides, or projector, no other media, is it the same in Sweden in the humanistic faculties?)

PhD dissertation
PhD dissertation

The topic of the thesis was gender perception of life under communism in ex-soviet union (or something similar). After the student’s presentation, the people in the committee gave their feedback. Some of the opinion were formal, in the sense that the committee member went to the stage to read his/her feedback, some other opinion are given from the public. The student responded to the comments. In total there are 13 people in the committee, and Lilit is the only woman. It seems that the feedbacks are positive, there has been some comments about the methodology; since the history in this thesis is recent, the method seem to be not suitable (according to what Lilit says).

When everyone in the committee had finished to comment on the thesis, we went out from the lecture room, while the committee remained and voted the thesis.  We went back after 10 minutes and one person communicated the response: 13 out of 13 members in the committee were positive to the thesis, the student was approved. However, the thesis was not yet published, so the student has to modify the thesis according to the comments he received and then it can be published.

After that I went home. The city is preparing for Christmas!

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Christmas decoration

 

Quality conference at the american university of Armenia

On the 4th and 5th, I attended the quality conference  at the american university of Armenia. The conference was in armenian and english, but we got translators. The conference was organised by the Anqa organisation (http://www.anqa.am/en/).
After the welcome speech made by several people (prime minister, minister of education, president of Anqa, rector of university), there was a panel discussion on the following topic: the impact of quality assurance in the development of higher education system: expectations and outcomes.  
Some of the topics of the conference are similar to what we discuss in Malmö (life long learning, education connected to research, education that produces professionals needed by the society, and other topics). One of the differences is that in Armenia, they (Anqa) do not only evaluate the education programmes but the whole university (the teachers, the organisation, the facilities, the research and other things). The universities get some kind of certification after they have performed the accreditation process.

Quality conference in Yerevan
Quality conference in Yerevan


Another main difference with Sweden is that Armenia is a post-soviet country where there are few companies, therefore it is difficult to have people from companies  or society interacting with the universities. Also the feedback of the students to the education system is low because (according to Lilit who works with quality) students are afraid to give their own opinion. The general impression is that both the people working on Anqa and the university people work a lot with quality but the universities are a bit detached from the  needs of the society and the students.  
During the conference I met several people, one teacher working on economy who would like to come to Malmö for staff exchange. Another person, the chancellor of the “YEREVAN UNIVERSITY AFTER MOVSES KHORENATSY” needs an external quality expert for peer reviewing their self evaluation. I may do it, they will check the formal requirements with the minister of education.

I have also met a finish guy, Karl Holm, who is a Residence Twinning Advisor at Finnish Education Evaluation Centre, he  will work with Anqa for 2 years. I got to talk swedish with him! 🙂

After the conference me and Lilit went to a cafe and it was very very interesting to hear from her about Armenia and Yerevan, and the conditions they have lived the past 20 years.