Humber College students recently travelled to Denmark to learn and develop their skills while working with their Danish peers on social service case studies.
A group of 11 people, which included students, faculty, and staff, travelled to Denmark to collaborate with UCL University College. The group included Julie Muravsky who is a professor and program coordinator with the Bachelor of Social Sciences – Addictions and Mental Health program and Linda Hill who is a professor and program coordinator with the Bachelor of Community Development program, and Ashley Mills who is a first-year student in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program.
The students had a week of virtual meetings with the Danish students where they discussed the similarities and differences between the Canadian and Danish social service systems and got to know each other before the Humber students headed abroad.
While in Denmark, the students had a chance to explore and absorb the culture. They also visited social service agencies and a facility for those who are unhoused and living with mental health issues.
Hill noted they have done this exchange before, but it had been conducted virtually. Getting to travel to Denmark to experience the country in-person made for a more memorable experience and Hill said the connections they formed and the collaboration that occurred couldn’t have been achieved virtually.
The students often ate together and spent much of their free time hanging out. They were welcomed into the homes of the Danish students. One of the Danish students had a horse ranch and invited their Canadian counterparts to visit.
As part of the trip, the students were given an assignment. They created their own mock scenario and had to develop a case study on the scenario. For Mills’ group, it was a young girl from Ukraine who had been separated from her father and was living with her mother and brother, who has a disability. In this scenario, the girl becomes addicted to drugs to cope with the trauma she has experienced.
The students created a video about how they would approach the scenario and how they would help the girl and her family that was presented to the group. To lighten up the heavy topic, their video was created in the style of the popular television show The Office.
Hill said the intercultural experience was valuable for the students in gaining a wider perspective and an understanding of best practices from other countries. Mills said the students’ confidence soared following the trip.
“When students are able to go outside their comfort zone and feel that discomfort and embrace it and learn from it, it's very transformative,” said Hill. “When you take people out of the classroom into the real world and say ‘live this for a week and experience it’ they develop skills in very different ways. So, it’s a very powerful education tool.”
Mills said the students developed their teamwork skills through the experience and, being in the Child and Youth Care program, found it valuable to interact with social workers and those in community development to gain their perspectives. Intercultural learning was a big emphasis of the trip.
Mills said there were some nerves ahead before they left. Mills hadn’t travelled outside the country before and feels more confident as a result of the experience.
"I'm a very shy person and I don't usually put myself out there because I want to stay in my little safe bubble but, since I've been back, I haven't really done that,” said Mills.
So enthused by the trip, Mills hopes to do her co-op placement in Denmark.
The learning wasn’t just for the students as Muravsky returned from the trip having grown as well. She described it as an “eye-opening” trip where she contrasted the Scandinavian approach with the Canadian way.
“I came back with a whole new appreciation for how things are done in Denmark, and it was a learning opportunity that was incredibly valuable,” said Muravsky.
Find out more by visiting Humber’s Global Opportunities website.