OT exchange promotes shared understanding
As part of an ongoing collaboration between Robert Gordon University's School of Health Sciences and the University of Wisconsin (UWL) La Crosse, US, staff and students from the occupational therapy department in Aberdeen hosted a very special visit in March 2010. In addition to the annual student exchange, which saw nine Robert Gordon students visit Wisconsin in 2009 and nine from there visit Aberdeen in 2010, senior members of staff from across the pond came to visit the Garthdee campus.
UWL Chancellor Joe Gow was joined by a number of senior colleagues including Jay Lokken, Director of their Office of International Education. They spent some time with Professor Val Maehle, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care, and Liz Hancock who heads the School of Health Sciences. Mr Lokken explained: "It has been an amazing experience coming over here. We currently have 90 students from our institution studying at universities across the UK and we would love to see more students from over here at La Crosse. You learn so much about your own culture by experiencing others."
The exchange, which has been running for six years, gives students from both sides the opportunity to compare notes on best practice and learn from each others' cultural experiences. Laura Mapleson, a student who went to visit Wisconsin as a third year student last year, said: "It was brilliant to compare health care services in the US with ours. They have the same occupational therapy philosophies but their system works differently. It was great to learn about this first hand."
Grace Fleming and Ailsa Crowe, two of the students responsible for hosting this year's visit by the Wisconsin students, managed to organise a number of events including a visit to Aberdeen's Town House to meet the Lord Provost. Grace said: "We formed a committee so we could gather thoughts and decided to incorporate some traditionally Scottish activities like a ceilidh and did a lot of fundraising to get this off the ground. It has been really good fun and it was helpful to get their view of occupational therapy and share understanding."
Chancellor Joe Gow added: "We are so grateful to have a relationship with Robert Gordon University and look forward to more exchanges in the future. It is very important for students to have international experiences so this kind of visit is exactly what we are hoping to promote."