CU Lancaster Summer Exchange: a Whole New World of Realities!
Student exchange programmes offer an excellent opportunity for students to globalise their education experience; opening them up to a world of new ideas, opportunities and approaches to their area of study. It also provides a platform for students to overcome their fears, break down racial and social barriers and acquire new skills. Recently, 10 Covenant University students returned from a three week Summer Cultural Exchange Programme to Lancaster University in the UK. The students were involved in a variety of Entrepreneurial, Academic, Sporting and Event Planning activities designed to stimulate their academic abilities, develop their teamwork skills and encourage them to think outside the box. All the students agree that the programme has been an enriching experience and has added a new dimension to their life.
The students had opportunity to take part in event planning activities. One such activity was the production of a talent show which was aired on radio and television throughout Lancaster. Amarachi Silverline Offor, a 400 level Marketing student was involved with a team of students from various countries, hosting and filming the talent show. She shared her initial apprehension about associating with different cultures and races from the stage; she was concerned that the jokes made by Nigerians, may not be the jokes that make Pakistani students laugh. “As I stepped on stage,” she remarked, however, “it was like I owned the stage. It was awesome! I was able to relate.” She commented that she had found the exchange experience educating; ruminating that, “it allows you to get to know yourself and it opens you up to a whole new world of realities.”
Oluwatosin Lois Adio, a 400 level Accounting student and Mercy Tolulope Fakeye, a 300 level Banking & Finance student shared about an enterprising activity in which they were involved that required them to build a company. Oluwatosin stated that she found it challenging as it was something she had never done before. Mercy added that she had been involved in allocating funds to particular branches. She was also involved in the advertising of the company which she found challenging as she had to navigate her way around a new computer programme. Both students found the activity a rewarding and extending experience.
The students also expressed their delight in the practical approach to academic activities. Jennifer Anaoor, a 300 level Industrial Physics student was particularly intrigued by the teaching approach she experienced in an Engineering activity. “We experienced things we hadn’t yet learned. Instead of copying down notes, the lecturers gave us the materials we needed for the activity and explained what we had to do. It was a very practical approach to learning and we were able to do it,” she explained.
An aspect of the exchange which inspired Motunrayo Falano, a 300 level Biochemistry student, was a field trip to a dairy. She expressed her passion for agriculture and said she found the trip eye-opening, so much so, that she conveyed her desire for Covenant University to start a dairy farm. “The Vice-Chancellor has encouraged us to be dreamers and I am definitely a dreamer,” she remarked. “I want to produce milk in Nigeria because at present, most of our milk products are imported.”
The students took part in an Enterprise and Career Day involving a number of different organisations and businesses. Victoria Clement Udoh, a 300 level Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management student relayed how the various CEOs of the organisations shared on the Enterprise Day how they started their business and what kept them going through challenging times. “The CEOs told us what they leaned from their challenges and how they were able to survive the business environment,” she said. The students were also given advice during the Career Day about what organisations are looking for when they seek to employ staff. In addition, they were taught skills to enable them to be more employable and to sell themselves effectively to potential employers.
An interaction many students found impacting was a meeting with a British member of parliament. Motunrayo shared that the politician didn’t come from a wealthy background, however, she didn’t let that stop her from achieving her dreams. Mercy shared how she was inspired by the politician’s down to earth manner. “She wasn’t proud; she would speak to everyday people.” Esekhaigbe Eromosele, a 500 level Civil Engineering student noted that the politician seemed more interested in serving everyday people than making money.
Many of the students were involved in sporting activities, some of which they had previously never played. Chinonso Eddy-Ugorji, a 300 level Civil Engineering student shared how they learned to play netball one evening before taking part in a competition between 8 Colleges. She found the other exchange students and the Lancaster University staff to be very encouraging. Jennifer Anaoor shared a similar point of view, adding, “They continued to encourage you even if you weren’t particularly good; it really boosted your spirit.”
One of the most impacting experiences of the Lancaster exchange were the interactions the students had with people from other cultures. Many students noted that they had previously been apprehensive of interacting with non-Nigerians. However, the exchange played a key role in breaking down their preconceived ideas and stereotypes of different nationalities. Esekhaigbe Eromosele shared how he had misconceptions about people from Pakistan. However, after meeting Pakistani students on exchange and playing sport with them he realised what wonderful people they are. “It’s about your heart, not your country as a whole,” he remarked. Another student noted that despite coming from different racial backgrounds the exchange students were able to laugh at each other’s jokes, share their songs and dances and enjoy each other’s company.
The CU exchange students strongly encouraged other CU students to consider taking part in an international exchange programme. They enjoyed the British hospitality and said that the exchange was a life-changing experience.
Covenant University believes international student exchange programmes are an invaluable experience and richly enhance a student’s educational background. For this reason, they have sent students to two different continents this past year and endeavour to provide more opportunities for students to experience educational institutions abroad.