EDUCATION THROUGH CULTURAL TRAVELLING
Universitatea de Arhitectura si Urbanism "Ion Mincu" (ROMANIA)
The globalization that came along with all the new technologies of the past XXth century might have brought a good thing for education: the opportunity for the Exchange Programmes and Erasmus Experiences.
One – communication between the universities is today more easy than ever. And it’s getting faster!
Two – shorter travelling time between different parts of the world make worth the time (as a well known asset).
Three – it is easier now to know each other, even thousands of miles apart, and not only through a video call, but also have the possibility to prepare a study of a remote culture even before being there.
As from my experience, I know that the problems in the education field are more or less the same, again, globally. Be it Spain, France, UK or Mexico, the usual topics between teachers at a meeting is the “today” student. Talking to others helps you not to repeat the same mistakes and also might give you some ideas how to cope with the generational gap and with the faster and faster changes in the media used.
The exchange programmes are, in fact, an opportunity for the students and/or teachers to know another university/way of teaching/culture.
They can be based on: practical experience, bi or multi-lateral universities exchange, various events and involve students and/or teachers.
Exchange programmes based on gaining practical experience (as, for example, it is The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience – IAESTE, or the summer working camps) are some of the most rewarding ones, for students and their employers, alike. While the students are acquiring practical experience in, most of the times, a totally new environment/culture, the employers are also benefiting from this exchange by knowing a culture that is coming to them. The international environment created by gathering students from different corners of the world is a big plus for all those involved in the programme, be they participants or organizers.
The exchange programmes may also be an occasion for teachers to have an abroad experience for a longer period. That would involve a mutual agreement and some more preparation, but it would be more rewarding for those involved.
Maybe the easier exchange is that of information. Exhibitions, publications, even remote joint research teams are now easier to gather and manage.
The Erasmus experiences are also complex, as they involve teaching, educating.
For the students, living for six months or a year abroad, is not only an occasion for having fun (which we are sure they do), but also an occasion to demonstrate how the school they are coming from is at least equal if not better than the one they are visiting. And, we can count on the pride of belonging to a certain alma mater. The internationalization didn’t get so far. The good results the Erasmus students are coming back with only shows us that it is really a beneficial experience for them, an occasion to grow up, to mature, and to be more responsible.
For teachers, Erasmus is giving the opportunity to refresh old contacts or to make new ones, through shorter stays (1-2 weeks). As it involves teaching, it is always an occasion to dialogue with foreign colleagues and students, to share one’s culture and experience with others.
All that said, the exchange, of any kind it be, between different cultures, is always beneficial for both parts, on one condition: keep an open mind and a young soul.