TAMK and Moi University met for the first time at e-Learning Africa -conference in Kigali in 2022. Both institutions agreed that grassroot level cooperation can be started without funding and an idea of the online-student project was established during the conference. It was seen important, that the students will have a chance to internationalize and to have discussion with the peers from another part of the world and from fully another kind of surroundings and societies.
Senior Lecturers from Moi University, Njeri Kiaritha from School of Education and Razia Mbaraka from School of Business and Economics, together with a senior lecturer and international coordinator Eeva-Mari Miettinen from TAMK´s Degree Programme of Social Services planned and organized an online-event together to discuss the wellbeing and challenges of young adults. The workshop took place on 30th of March 2023 in Zoom. The participating students from Moi University were third year students taking a course in cultural management. Finnish students were first year students from the course called Global and multicultural society. All in all there were more than a hundred students joining the event.
The students watched videos about the countries, culture and topics as pre-material. And the workshop session included short orientation lecturers from both countries, covering topical themes from World Happiness report to gender equality, youth unemployment to different lifestyles and changing culture. The lectures were followed by group discussions between the Kenyans and Finns. The students chose topics of their interest and made comparisons between the two very different countries. The students reflected that they learned a lot even about their own countries.
In the workshop feedback, 75% of the responding students stated that they gained a lot of value from the event. The pre-material helped them to orientate to the session and 80% said that the lectures were very useful for them. The significance of the break-out room sessions was really high, as was planned. The best thing was getting to interact with fellow students and to reflect on the differences and similarities. The session was found participatory and interactive, and a lot of ideas were shared. Working in culturally diverse groups increased the cultural competence of the students.
The fact that when you’re in small group in a breakout room, you’re kind of “forced” to have the courage to talk in English (to avoid the awkward silence :D) and it was really nice to notice it went well even though we didn’t have any strict script what to discuss about. People opened up and spoke honestly for example about women’s rights and sexual harassment.
In some groups there were challenges with the internet connections, but for majority things were working fine. Many groups were hoping to have more time to talk together and more sessions like this! The students also gave good ideas for future collaboration themes. For many students, the workshop was encouraging for international co-operation also in the future, and many expressed their interest for international mobility as well.
All in all, the online-event was a very important chance for the students to meet each other and discuss the problems and challenges of the youth in the society. The event was organized for the students of different fields, which was a fruitful starting point for the wider discussion and change of views.
TAMK can learn open-mindedness from Moi’s School of Business and Economics, as they were ready to cooperate even before the idea of the cooperation was fully formed. The open attitude towards something new brought new, energizing international experiences for the students and for the staff.
The collaboration will continue through Erasmus+ -funding, which enables the mobility of the students and the staff between our institutions. Moi and TAMK are both very delighted to have a chance to develop collaboration further.
Eeva-Mari Miettinen, Senior Lecturer and International Coordinator, Degree Programme of Social Services, TAMK
Razia Mbaraka, Senior Lecturer, School of Business and Economics, Moi University
Nina Kärki, Customer Relationship Manager, TAMK