“We have a longstanding partnership with Edith Cowan University (ECU), so this collaboration was a natural fit,” says Zainab Al-koubaisi, Director of Global Engagement, at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).
Two years in the making, the four-week, virtual Global Indigenous Learning Experience was a collaborative international learning experience between Indigenous Services at KPU and Kurongkurl Katitjin at ECU in Perth, Australia to help build global connections between students at both institutions.
Twice a week, Indigenous students logged on in real time to take part in virtual sessions and peer-to-peer engagement.
Sessions covered language, culture, history, and place, where students heard from Indigenous Elders and scholars. Participants also had the opportunity to explore the similarities and differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia, and Indigenous peoples in the Coast Salish region of BC.
“In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are underrepresented in learning abroad programs. We wanted to develop a program that would help increase participation, break down those perceived barriers, and open students up to new learning experiences,” says Simon Burrows, Manager of Internationalization, at ECU.
In total, five Indigenous students from KPU and seven Indigenous students from ECU participated. The program was offered at no cost to participating students. KPU students also received scholarship funding from Global Skills Opportunity.
“A huge amount of gratitude goes out to the Elders, faculty, and community members who shared their time and knowledge. It was an absolute pleasure collaborating on this global exchange with the Kurongkurl Katitjin team and both KPU and ECU’s International Offices,” says Natalie Wood-Wiens, Manager of Indigenous Services for Students, at KPU.
KPU and ECU hope to run a similar virtual program next summer, and by 2024 offer the program in-person.