UFH and Windesheim University partner for research opportunities

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A delegation from the University of Fort Hare comprised of staff and students from the Department of Social Work and Social Development under the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities recently visited Netherlands to participate in an International Week for Health Care and Social Work Faculties, hosted by the Windesheim University of Applied Sciences.

According to Prof Ulene Schiller, Deputy Dean Teaching Learning and Community Engagement at the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, the visit was a direct result of a collaboration that was forged about six years ago.

“The collaboration was sparked in 2016 when myself and a colleague from Windesheim University met in the Netherlands to explore opportunities to work together.  The partnership started with the two Social Work Departments working together on their undergraduate research project and after steady collaboration in the past five years, both Universities have now expressed keenness to explore broader collaborations that could involve more departments and faculties,” said Prof Schiller.

The programme was held in April and the UFH team that participated in the International Week included: Prof Schiller, Ms Robyn Coleman who is a second-year PhD candidate and Mr Lubabalo Genda, Ms Nicole Canham, Ms Yentl Temmers, Ms Chwayita Lisani, Ms Akhona Dayi-Mseleni, Ms Aneza Mafanya, Ms Nasiphi Tona who all Masters students in the Department.  The opportunity was made possible this year through the UCDG funded project and sponsorship from Windesheim University.

The event brought together professionals in this field to network, and exchange research ideas and approaches. “The students were exposed to international presenters who presented on various topics which enabled perspectives and lenses to be broadened, discussed and challenged.”

“During our stay, the UFH delegation was fortunate enough to experience the most prestigious and festive public holiday in the Netherlands called King’s Day which fell on the 27th of April. King’s Day is when the country of the Netherlands celebrates the Royal King’s birthday.  It is a day filled with fun and celebration, due to covid-19 the celebrations had been on hold for two years and this year (2022) the festivities and environment were exuberant. All festival-goers wear orange which is the traditional colour of the monarchy and the symbol of Dutch patriotism,” explained Prof Schiller.

On one of the days, the students accompanied one of the Social Work Lecturers from Windesheim University to an addiction centre. “This was a wonderful learning opportunity for the UFH students and they also had the opportunity to liaise with some of the students from Windesheim to share some practice experiences.”

The UFH Masters students also developed a presentation to share with the international cohort of students and lecturers about Social Work in South Africa, UFH’s approach to Social Work and four areas of specialisations were selected and discussed. 

“The presentation began with an introduction and explanation of South Africa’s incomparable magnitude for cultural and language diversity, reflected uniquely on the National Anthem. The students then sang the National Anthem presenting the uniqueness of its diversity.”

“The experience was indeed unique, eye-opening and definitely a step outside of our comfort zones.  The students embraced the hospitality that they experienced and were proud South African and Forterian ambassadors. The Department would like to thank both the UCDG funders and Windesheim University’s sponsorship that made this dream a reality.,” said Prof Schiller.