The cultural knowledge and varied experiences brought by the international students is what makes this Education and Globalisation master’s programme so unique. While the programme itself is comprehensive and the lecturers are knowledgeable and thought-provoking, much of our learning comes from each other.
The 20 people in our class come from 19 very different countries: Kurdistan with Finnish citizenship, the United States, United States-Taiwan, China (2x), South Korea, Australia, Australia-United Kingdom dual citizenship, Kenya, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Ghana, New Zealand (I’m the first Kiwi!), Canada, Finland, Iran and India.
Our common language is English, but only six of us are mother-tongue speakers. We range in age from about 23 – 53, and the majority of us have a background in teaching.
Last week’s assignment for the Orientation to Finnish Culture and Education Systems course was to present for 15 minutes about our own countries’ education systems. Two people presented on other international experiences they had – S from Kurdistan-Finland talked about immigrant language support in Finland and R from UK-Aus presented about his time teaching in the West Bank, Palestine.
It was fascinating to learn about the way education is valued and approached differently across the world. In many ways it made me even more grateful for the high quality of education we provide in New Zealand. The comparisons with regard to access, autonomy and corruption etc. made me see even more that my gripes with our system are very “first-world problems”, but at the same time they have made me more firm in my determination to help maintain and improve what we have so that we don’t regress into further inequalities.
I have pasted my notes from my classmates’ presentation sessions below. Because they’re just my notes I took down as they spoke, I don’t have the references for stats etc. that they referred to. If there’s anything you’re especially interested in I can ask for them and pass them on to you though. Some of the detail is anecdotal as it comes from my classmates’ experiences as students and teachers in their home countries. I hope you find this as interesting as we all do!