13 July, 2012

My Erasmus learning experience in Rotterdam

By guest editor Rosemary from Ireland
Although there are clear educational benefits to be gained from going on student Erasmus exchange, it is not the only reason to take part. The course in itself, gave me a different perspective. It was more European and it was interesting to compare two countries. Holland is a very modern and multi-cultural place so you really get to see how they established their state and constitution in a very open minded and liberal manner. We studied subjects such as Global Citizenship and Multiculturalism, which really helped open our minds to modern thinking and understanding of the future’s Education System.
The Erasmus Programme’s origins: Formalised in 1987, the programme was named after the Dutch Renaissance philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, who was a keen proponent of pan-European study as a means to ensure that education did not become dogmatic. By offering European students the opportunity to experience a different education system, the Erasmus programme hopes to encourage a pluralistic approach to learning and, consequently, improve the education available to all EU citizens. I agree that the Erasmus experience certainly improved my understanding of education and has helped me in my approach to my third year of study in Montessori Education with confidence.
Hogeschool Rotterdam is one of the best colleges in Europe, so the standard of teaching and the standard of the students were really great, so I have improved greatly in critical thinking and essay formatting. Nevertheless, it was outside the lecture environment that I felt the biggest gains were made. I feel much more comfortable now than I maybe would have perhaps before X-mas because you really do have no choice but to come out of your shell a bit more and take part in putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. This personal development side of Erasmus is certainly something that I benefited from the programme. I feel I have matured and gained better independence. Basically I have learned how to do things independently for the first time by myself; I didn’t have my normal support structures such as friends and family to rely on. A lot of the students in my class also had some great travel opportunities. While in The Netherlands, you’re only a short train ride away from another country and so a lot of my classmates have gone home with some great travel stories. My fellow student and I visited other Erasmus students from our class to Leuven, Belgium which was so much fun and easy to do.
I cannot express enough how valuable this experience was both for me personally and educationally. I have made some really great friends who have all left me with open invites to come visit them when I would like. I have grown so much in such a short amount of time which leaves me to appreciate that I am capable of so much as a future teacher and Montessorian. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity and for believing in me to successfully complete and appreciate the Erasmus Programme. It was really “Prima.!”

10 July, 2012

Meanwhile: in Stockholm, day 2

A busy day, lots of impressions, lots of information to digest and make sense of, many short chats with people I never met before. Loads of inspiring examples and presenters, stimulating initiatives and innovations as well as intriguing presentations of research results. And then there are also a lot of poster presentations worth studying ! Also a few disappointments as workshops were fully seated when I arrived at the workshop room, which meant that within moments you need to take a quick decision where to go instead. All in all it was a lot to take in, but an exhilirating experience ! Then off to Stockholm's city hall for the reception and above all to admire the amazing interior of the first floor hall. That in a nutshell was the experience of a conference delegate on day 2 of the Global Social Work conference. This is just a random selection of photos of the day.

08 July, 2012

Meanwhile: in Stockholm, day 1

And there we were, a small delegation of five from Rotterdam, arriving to the conference venue with many, many others on Sunday July 8th. It was the 2nd joint Global Social Work Social Development conference: Action and Impact that was about to start in Stockholmsmässan/Stockholm International Fairs that had drawn us there in big numbers.
Queuing up for registration seemed to become an endless affair, so in we went to the opening ceremony without the official entrance name tags and materials to hear a warm and thought provoking welcome from a group of young people. The purpose of the conference was made crystal clear to us by David Jones: we are here to plan the future, not just talk ! Of course we meet colleagues from all over the world, and of course we'll build our networks and of course we will listen and talk, but all people involved in social work have a global agenda now which needs to be implemented, starting right here in Sweden. Here's a visual impression of day 1.

04 July, 2012

A Final Goodbye

Last week we said goodbye to the last group of international students who participated in this year's edition of the International Class in Bridging Cultures in Multicultural Rotterdam. These were the students who had decided to stay on for an additional two-month period to do independent studies, either an internship type of study programme or a survey based on literature study. Here are some photos of that final get-together where also the certificates were handed out.
Shortly before this final goodbye, news had reached the coordinators that next year there will be no International Class. Internally, our university needs some time to reconsider the concept of international education offered to students from our partner universities. Whether that will mean an end to the collaboration between the School of Education and the School of Social Work, nobody knows. So for now, all we can say is: last week was also goodbye to the international class for the coordinators.

03 July, 2012

Wikipedia is research, or not ?

Wikipedia, the free, collaboratively edited and multilingual internet encyclopedia, is not only among the top 10 most-visited sites, but it has also grown to be the number one source for students. In fact, for many students it is more or less a one stop shop for information and students are said to stop research and change topics if it’s not on Wikipedia. Studies have shown that Wikipedia is almost as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica, all due to the efforts of the millions of volunteers who write, edit, and check its entries. This infographic by OpenSite highlights how Wikipedia has revolutionized research and how it has become an increasingly reliable fountain of knowledge over the years. Wikipedia
Interested in knowing why so many volunteer to contribute to Wikipedia? Listen to the founder Jimmy Wales: