QUT undergraduate students recently had the opportunity to gain real-world experiences in Vietnam, supported by funding from the New Colombo Plan.
Four Nutrition and Dietetics students and six Health and Physical Education students participated in the program led by Dr Lee Wharton, which saw them spend two weeks in Vietnam participating in a wide range of activities and experiences specific to their discipline. They recently made a presentation to their supervisors and other university staff to highlight what they had learned and how beneficial the program had been for everyone involved.
The Nutrition and Dietetics students viewed schools and hospital canteens, visited the National Institute for Nutrition (NIN) in Hanoi, and discussed with professors there the prevalence of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies as well as the strategies that they are putting in place to tackle these issues.
The HPE Students visited several schools, both urban and rural, and had the opportunity to engage with the children and to guest-teach physical education classes with activities based upon “engagement, mass participation and inclusion” using minimal resources, instruction, and space.
HPE students Elisabeth, Kamya, Daniel, Maggie, Ryan and Natalie found that teaching large classes of children in a brand-new environment was daunting, but Maggie noted that they were all able to adapt quickly.
'As soon as we stepped into our natural area of teaching students we all collaborated, we all bounced ideas off each other…in such a short amount of time we became best friends. It was such a special thing.'
The HPE students illustrated their experiences via a video montage, and discussed the way that they had compared and contrasted the different standards and focuses of HPE programs in Vietnam and Australia. As part of their presentation, they also cited professional experience, friendships made, and exposure to a country rich in history and culture as aspects that made their experience 'once in a lifetime.'
The students also highlighted that this was an experience that could never have been replicated in a classroom.
'Before this trip, we’d never really considered working overseas in other cultures,' said Kelly. 'It’s really cemented that this is an opportunity that we can now grasp and work with the Vietnamese communities, taking the positive aspects that they have in collaboration with the Australian nutritional aspects to improve nutrition in both countries.'
Several students from both disciplines also commented that they had returned from the trip with a new interest in pursuing a career in research, something they had not necessarily considered before. The students are currently preparing abstracts for submission to the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER) conference and to academic journals for the first time in their professional lives.
'This experience is really going to put us ahead of our colleagues,' commented Emily during her presentation. 'We’ll always be learning, but we feel that we’ll be more prepared to deal with these situations with cultural sensitivity and patience.'
Kaylee Saw, Emily Molyneux, Kelly Boorer, Estelle Desribes
Elisabeth Irwin, Kamya Jennings, Daniel Parkes, Maggie Pembroke, Ryan Pitt, Natalie Wollenweber
QUT students teaching in Vietnam
Faculty of Education
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