Camosun College Field Schools Promote a Meeting of Minds and Sharing of Cultures

When Camosun’s Ian Warrender first touched down in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2010, he knew instinctively that he was onto something life-changing.

“I come from a background of social justice activism and I’ve always been a strong advocate of human rights,” he says. “When I got off the plane, bound for Arusha in Tanzania, I realised that I was about to start something very special, and it just put me on this powerful trajectory.”

As a Technical and Vocational Education and Training Specialist, Warrender has worked with Camosun International since 2010 on Education for Employment projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Egypt. He, along with Camosun Student Experience facilitators Vivian Trinh and Luzia Pinto, organises the college’s annual faculty field schools, and was the lead on the ground during the second annual edition held May 2 – 19, 2019 in Arusha, Tanzania.

“The field schools are integral to the internationalization of the college and to enhance Camosun faculty’s appreciation of diverse cultures globally,” says Warrender. “We work to mobilise faculty to gain more intercultural awareness.”

The most recent field school is the culmination of Camosun’s long-term ‘Education for Employment’ partnership with Arusha Technical College in Tanzania. More than 15 Camosun faculty and students have travelled to Tanzania over the past few years including Camosun President Sherri Bell who visited in August 2017 as part of the joint Camosun-Arusha collaboration on a two-year pipe trades program.

Other notable successes between the two institutions include a Heavy Duty Mechanic program as well as a Lapidary Technician training program. The latter takes advantage of the country’s rich deposits of Tanzanite and helps train young people, with a particular focus on women in trades, to shape and form the rocks into gemstones for sale. Getting young Tanzanian women into non-traditional vocations and entrepreneurial activities is one of the key objectives of the Education for Employment projects.

The focus of the May 2019 Arusha field school was teaching and learning in a cross-cultural context while promoting professional development for faculty members. Nine Camosun faculty took part in the trip representing a diverse group from the areas of Business, Engineering and Health Sciences.

The two-week field school was created in partnership with Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) who largely facilitated the first week of activities, while Camosun took the lead on the second. The combined faculty contingent from Camosun, NSCC, the VETA Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute (VHTTI – Arusha) and Arusha Technical College (ATC) participated in each other’s sessions, creating a rich forum of cross-cultural learning.

NSCC’s week focused on a successful applied learning initiative run by VHTTI, an initiative that aligns very much with Camosun’s philosophy of Work-Integrated Learning. “Their VETA hotel and tourism training institute is a school but it also operates as a hotel, entirely run by students,” explains Warrender. “We stayed there while participating in the teaching workshops and cultural activities.”

During the second week, Camosun faculty delivered interactive workshops and learning events at Arusha Technical College. “We explored topics such as ‘Skills Gap’ and CBET (competency-based education and training) in the context of a comparing and contrasting Canadian and Tanzanian post-secondary institutions,” says Warrender.

“The intent was to make the workshops as interactive and informative as possible and at the end of the day, we’d realized  how much we had in common and discussed similar challenges and opportunities.” Visits to Meru Cultural Centre and Ngorongoro Conservation Area immersed faculty in local culture and tourism initiatives.

Participants bring back new perspectives, skills and approaches that benefit students in Camosun classrooms. “The biggest thing they bring back is an appreciation of the incredible diversity of the way people learn and interact,” says Warrender.

Notably, field school participants Ernie Ogilvie’s and Marina’s Jaffey’s workshop on Negotiation Skills helped to illuminate the incredibly diverse approaches to negotiations and communicating within and across cultures.

“Good teaching is really the process of being in service to others,” says Warrender.

Camosun College is one of the largest public colleges in British Columbia, established in 1971, with campuses located on the traditional territories of the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. The college serves 19,000 learners a year in certificate, diploma, bachelor's degree, post-degree diploma and continuing education programs.

Original article from Camosun College