Community services teacher Tracy Galaud was selected to accompany students from a variety of community services qualifications on an international exchange with the elite Centennial College, where they met with community development practitioners and undertook a series of workshops centred around community outreach. The trip, which was part of TAFE Queensland’s Study Abroad program, also allowed students to explore the city and visit the famous Niagra Falls.
Ms Galaud is the Team Leader for Community Services, Disability, Access and Equity in TAFE Queensland’s East Coast region and said she found the experience eye-opening.
“While Canada is a leader in community development practices, Toronto is the country’s child poverty capital, so it was interesting to hear from leaders in the field and witness how the initiatives they are implementing to address these issues work,” Ms Galaud said.
“The classes at Centennial College were incredibly insightful and covered a variety of topics, from immigration, mental health and homelessness to social justice, sustainable development and asset mapping. And with daily industry visits enabling them to see these processes and procedures first-hand, as well as tasks that required them to directly interact with the community, the students were really immersed in the learning experience.”
In addition to seeing the community development programs they were studying in action, students got to meet and learn alongside Centennial College’s own community development students, sharing information on how Australia’s practices differed.
“This trip was a fantastic opportunity for students to experience how their industry operates in another country and gain new skills and practices to implement at home in an experiential learning mode. And from a teacher’s perspective this trip was great for not only applying our students’ lessons in a real world context, but for gathering ideas that I can apply back home too,” Ms Galaud said.
“We had such a diverse group of qualifications within the community services sector together, so it was really interesting to discuss how policies and practices in each field overlap with others.”
Seven of the eight community services students who participated in the exchange were awarded $2,500 by the Australian Government’s Australia Awards - Endeavour Leadership Program to subsidise their studies in Canada.
In conjunction with the Australian Government program, TAFE Queensland offers students a variety of Study Abroad programs each year with over 80 students and 11 vocational teachers engaged in overseas projects in 2018.
TAFE Queensland International Executive Director Janelle Chapman said Study Abroad programs offer students incredibly rewarding and rare real-life learning experiences.
“All Study Abroad programs contribute to course requirements and credits towards qualifications and are a great way for students to gain valuable hands-on work experience,” Ms Chapman said.
“Our wonderful teachers also travel with students to not only assess their learning, but also to work alongside them and ensure they are safe, supported and set up for success.
“We are very proud of our students and teachers as they volunteer their time and take their skills abroad to help communities in need throughout the world,” she said.
Study Abroad students can expect a unique global study experience and perhaps even a life changing experience. Student grants are made possible with support from the Australian Government’s Australia Awards - Endeavour Leadership Program.
If you're interested in gaining international work experience as part of your studies then check out our Study Abroad page to learn more about the range of Study Abroad tours available.