Posted on Wednesday 28th November 2012
Earlier this term, social work students and academics together with a service user contributor, took part in an international exchange trip to Rotterdam University. The group spent 5 days in the Netherlands and whilst there participated in seminars and workshops and visited community projects and sites of cultural and political interest.
The group also visited a Pupil Referral Unit where they met with the Director and discussed the similarities and differences between policy and practice in the UK and Holland. The group also visited a theatre company working with people with special needs and were invited to watch a rehearsal and take part in a discussion about the use of the creative arts in community development work. A follow-up visit to an art gallery and studio working with people with learning difficulties allowed for a further exploration of the value of the creative arts in social work. Other visits included an informal tour of a red light district, which provoked much discussion about the impact public policies have on the practice of prostitution in Holland, and a visit to a drug rehabilitation unit where the delegation met service users and spoke with one of the members of staff about his commitment to providing a safe and respectful service to long term drug users.
Luke (service user contributor who grew up in the care system) ‘I speak on behalf of all of us that took part in the experience when I say that the whole trip was useful. It was good to indulge in the culture and learn about how different countries do things, it was an eye-opener and gave us all something to think about with our practice with young people back in England. I thought that visiting the centres for vulnerable people was especially useful as the centres in Holland were far more advanced than ours in England, this again gave the students and myself a different way of thinking. Working with the students at the university was a great thing…I found the whole experience enlightening, educational and developmental.’
The students echoed Luke’s enthusiasm saying ‘I think it was particularly useful to combine the theoretical with experiential learning on this elective’ ‘The whole experience was thought provoking and challenged me to think outside the box and re-evaluate my values.’ ‘I have become more open minded to new ideas.’ ‘I learnt new things that have given me confidence to be creative in practice.’ ‘I had the opportunity to get to know the lecturers and students better. We were all from different backgrounds and we had the opportunity of learning about different countries, which fitted well with the module title: International Perspectives in Social Work.’ ‘I found that as a group we were always discussing the events of the day which helped in deepening the knowledge we had acquired.’ ‘All in all, I believe it was an amazing opportunity".
For more information on the International Exchange Programme please contact Dawn River email@example.com 0121 414 2936 or Surinder Guru firstname.lastname@example.org 0121 415 8481.
Take a look at the film we made on our first International Exchange visit to Rotterdam