Travis Fortnum, a second-year Durham College (DC) web and print journalism student, describes his recent trip to Trujillo, Peru as “literally life changing,”
DC’s Peru project was the school’s first international opportunity for students to go to another country through their program. In this case the opportunity was only offered to students in the journalism streams, video production and the culinary school.
Through a two–year partnership that Durham has with Centro Experimental de Formación Profesional, a technical and vocational college in Trujillo, an opportunity presented itself.
After a four-week application and interviewing process that Fortnum describes as “stressful”, three Durham students – Fortnum, Vik Panjawani and Kyle Rist – from the three different programs were chosen to go to Peru. They left Sept. 26 and returned Oct. 3.
According to Danielle Harder, journalism professor at DC, the purpose of the trip was to “enhance the Peruvian school’s culinary management program through the expertise and curriculum of faculty from DC’s Centre for Food.”
While in Peru, Rist shared some Canadian recipes with his new Peruvian colleagues and brought some Peruvian recipes back with him. Fortnum and Panjawani worked together as journalist and videographer to document the experience.
According to Katie Boone, Durham’s manager of international projects and partnerships, the project was funded by the government of Canada, facilitated through Colleges and Institutes Canada and is part of its Education for Employment project. The focus of the project is to link graduate skill sets with industry demand and to make sure students are graduating with skills employers want and need. The whole project ends next March.
Boone believes international opportunities, “build an incredible self-awareness when you are thrown into another culture, another community, with different expectations, different perceptions on who you are both from outsiders and from yourself that I think is a really great learning opportunity.”
Boone isn’t the only administrator who believes in the importance of cultural opportunities.
Elaine Popp, Durham’s vice-president academic (VPA), says one of her main roles as VPA is internationalization. Popp would like students to have opportunities to travel, study and learn abroad.
Popp believes students who graduate from the programs at DC should have great cultural awareness, acceptance of different cultures and cultural diversities. According to Popp, our society is very interconnected and it’s quite often that companies communicate with other countries on a daily basis.
“India’s not that far away anymore,” says Popp.
According to Popp, DC implemented the International Education office last year. Previously, the International office looked at getting international students to come and study at DC. The ‘rebranded’ International Education office also looks at ways for students and faculty to go abroad and find ways to have global experiences at home for students.
Popp says “it is now a priority having international opportunities for our students and our faculty. It is now recognized as being a priority, so it’s going to be given attention and focus. It’s not something that will happen ‘boom’ overnight but we’ll work towards it and work towards providing more opportunities for these trips.”
Popp explains the trips may be short, come in the form of internships, or field placement opportunities. She explains some trips may even be exchanges – programs where Durham partners with another institution in another country and DC accepts one of their students and a DC student gets the opportunity to go to visit the other institution for a year.
With the new department in place, within the next five years DC will be looking at a different sort of program. According to Popp, the perfect example is a program where students focus and learn about global events and also get opportunities to go to these global events.