This week I have the outstanding opportunity to learn during the International Educators Workshop (IES) at the Danish International School (DIS), Copenhagen from some of the leading professionals in study abroad programming in Europe. Since involving myself in the UIC study abroad programing in 2012 I have been seeking professional development opportunities with like minded faculty and study abroad professionals in advising and administrative roles at their institutions. I am funded by the UIC study abroad office for this experience. My objectives this week are to determine the range of opportunities UIC students might take advantage of, identify strategies and high impact practices engaging students in learning in a cultural context that is unlikely to be replicated in Chicago and to understand the ways other institutions go about delivering and evaluating their study abroad programming.
My first impressions of DIS were positive, the organization and communication from our hosts ahead of the program
was timely and on point. I am learning that these qualities seem to be typical of well run and high quality study abroad partners. Before the program began I elected to stay with a host family and this has been a key feature of this short experience. DIS carefully considers the choosing of their host families. I arrived three days early due to the perils of jet lag and my host was ready for me at the airport. Yes!
My hosts gave me a brisk city tour and gave me an afternoon of home entertainment followed by a terrific dinner. The following day, after a Danish breakfast of bread, preserves and cheese I caught the train and allowed myself to get lost in the city. Although overcast with misty rain I took in some of the visual culture and optical wealth Copenhagen had to share. Being lost in a safe city like Copenhagen reminded me I would probably not make the same choices in several parts of the city I call home. I had a better sleep. The next day I traveled by train to Malmo,
Sweden to watch a soccer match between top team Malmo and an opponent from the north (the home team lost 0-3…ouch! the 18000 home thousand fans were not happy. The 200 hundred away fans were ecstatic.). I experienced the extra security measures the Swedish authorities enforce to slow the flow of immigrants. The challenges I read about in the USA that Sweden and Denmark have faced recently concerning the influx of immigrants seems quite realistic. I saw things in a short time indicating Scandinavia might face cultural and economic challenges as it accommodates the immigrants from Africa and the middle east. I had a full day in Malmo, visiting the old city, walking the old city, dining and seeing the game. I was ready for Sunday to come to study and prepare for the week ahead.
I spent most of the day at the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark). What a treat! If you read my previous posts on visual research methods and visual thinking strategies you will know I lead students to complete qualitative research projects using these approaches. This
gallery was a 5-star experience. The Danish art informed me of different views of Denmark since the 17th century. As a future opportunity to engage students in thinking about movement and strength and conditioning the room dedicated to the “body in art” was mesmeric. I These were inspiring moments. I could lead a workshop here leading to a research experience as I did before in Barcelona.
I was joined by another IEW attendee Jim Neighbors, Ph.D from Wofford College, South Carolina. He is staying with my hosts too. We have totally different objectives for the week but a lot in common around student growth and development. This week will surely go well.