The Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Summer School through the University of York helped develop my inter-cultural and leadership skills, as well as developing my knowledge of sustainable development initiatives. The Summer School brought together people from Uganda, Taiwan and New Zealand – each of which brought a breadth of knowledge as well as idiosyncratic approaches to problem solving that galvanised education and success. For example, when creating a sustainable development pitch, members from Uganda were more concerned with the effectiveness of government and policy while the Kiwis’ focus was in potential technology improvements.
Becoming culturally competent can only be a positive development for one’s self, as it is impossible to avoid the global connectedness of professional life. It is an on going objective, that virtual courses like these foster and encourage. The programme was constituted by two hour long sessions per day, which would begin by responding to the information we had been prescribed to learn, followed by a social event or some other education. There were also other social events on top of this, though they were almost impossible to attend for New Zealand students due to the time difference. The social event took us around York and also included sit down sessions where we dived into UK culture.
The endeavour of the course was to make a three minute pitch on a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, stating the goal and our attempt at solving it. This was to be carried out in groups of three (three groups of three), with the presentation being on the final day. Each group was set a mentor to help with the pitch with specialised knowledge. The course offered experienced keynote speakers to give two hour long lectures, which was the main pedagogical tool of the course. These speakers were very knowledgeable and espoused great ideas and examples. The work load was large considering the last week coincided with my first week at the University of Auckland, but ultimately manageable.
The experience was great, in terms of content learnt, but also the warm learning environment, headed by a great team at the University of York. Many of the participants have connected on social media and have made promises to be tour guides if we every travel to one another’s countries. I would highly recommend this virtual course to any student who wants to learn a bit about initiatives to support the Sustainable Development Goals and whom endeavour to become more globally integrated, perhaps making a few friends on the way.