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Social work students take part in international ‘transformative learning experience’

Seven students took part in Ulster University’s inaugural Southeast Asian Summer School delivered in collaboration with University of the Philippines, Los Banos and Singapore University of Social Sciences.

27/06/24

Social work students take part in international ‘transformative learning experience’

Social work students have praised an ‘unforgettable’ learning experience in the Philippines and Singapore as part of a university’s social work summer school.

Seven BSc (Hons) Social Work students from Ulster University returned last week following the programme’s inaugural trip in collaboration with University of the Philippines, Los Banos and Singapore University of Social Sciences.

This summer school, led by Dr Denise MacDermott, provided ‘transformative learning experiences’ for students including fieldwork in local communities focused on innovative and creative development initiatives to combat malnutrition and support capacity building.

Paris Kosky, one of the students on the trip, said they “had the most unforgettable two weeks”, describing the trip as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“I learned so much about the different cultures and the way social work is practiced on the other side of the world. I gained confidence, cultural competence, and amazing friends for life.

“I will carry the skills I acquired into my career in social work, and I will treasure the memories forever.”

Jill Young said the trip helped to improve her practice.

“This experience has provided me with a new outlook and new skills to make me a better practitioner. The summer school offered professional and personal growth for me, giving me the confidence to want to explore more countries and their social work structures.”

Students spent time at Singapore’s first inclusive pre-school AWWA Kindle Garden reflecting on the significance of inclusive education and how they apply this knowledge in their professional learning.

The Ulster University students also spent time in a refuge for women and children in the Philippines and met social work staff responsible for rehabilitation and resettlement support for teenage boys and young men involved with the criminal justice system.

Dr Denise MacDermott, Course Director and leader for the summer school, said the opportunity was a life changing experience for the social work students.

“They were exposed to transformational learning exploring multi-cultural contexts and inclusive practice that seeks to challenges intersectional oppression and support citizens and communities to thrive.”

Professor Sven Schottmann, Associate Dean (Development and Partnerships), added that the experience was only possible because of the University’s strong partnerships in the region.

“Being able to provide tomorrow’s Social Work professionals with a broad-ranging introduction to their future field and chosen profession in Asian contexts is a privilege, and an incredible value-add to their degree.”

The programme was a faculty-led initiative delivered in partnership with the Office for Global Engagement who secured external funding to support with programme costs.

Pictrue credit: Ulster University

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