My entirely (or should I say en-Thai-ely) amazing adventure by Sarah Hayley

There aren’t many posts I write where I don’t quite know where to start, but the excitement has sent my head all over the place – in a good way! I have just come to the end of *the* most amazing six-week adventure! I guess I’d better start from the beginning so that you can begin to understand my enthusiasm!

Some time ago, my university in Leicester offered students the chance to take a trip to the Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University in Bangkok to teach English as a foreign language to students there. De Montfort University offers the scheme upon completion of a TEFL course that they also provide.  

I wasn’t sure at first, but the more I considered the idea, the more I realised what a fantastic opportunity it would be for me. 

Twelve months ago, just the mention of such a trip would have had made me anxious. No way could I travel there and embark on such a mission! However, I’ve changed over the last year, and something was whirring away in the back of my mind, telling me to give it a go!

I knew that eight of us would be going in total; one I already knew but the others I didn’t. So, I took the bull by the horns and signed up!!

We did a lot of preparation and training at university before we set off on our adventure and before I knew it, I’d boarded that flight to Thailand to have, what I now know to be, one of the best experiences of my life.

On my first day at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, I was absolutely freaked out. Yes, I’d done the prep work and training back at home, but nothing had really equipped me for a room full of students, all staring at me – their new English teacher! 

I’ve always had a fear of speaking in front of people; a huge group of wide-eyed students, who I knew would be clinging to my every word being one of my worst nightmares. However, despite my reservations, I did it!! And did I feel good afterwards? … Oh, my goodness, yes! That first day was hard but a real accomplishment for me. After that, every day seemed to get a little bit easier as I grew in confidence. I built up a real connection with the students, and we kind of helped each other really!

Teaching aside, I had the time of my life discovering beautiful, bustling Bangkok. The street markets, China Town, the temples and the legendary Khao San Road were like nothing experienced before. The locals were so friendly, and I loved the Thai culture. At the weekends, a friend and I travel further afield, and we explored the delights of Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and Indonesia.

I had been worried about spending so much time with the six other people I didn’t know who were also teaching English as a foreign language at the same university. In fact, we all gelled right from the off! I think I speak for us all when I say we all got on so well together and really enjoyed spending time exploring as a group. I made some really great friends for life through a fantastic experience.

And, during the trip, not only did I grow as a person and achieve some of the best things I’ve ever achieved in life, I really do feel like I made a difference to the students’ lives in Bangkok. Their progress over the six weeks was remarkable. We had all built up a real rapport; they were keen to learn, and I was eager to teach. What a better combination could there be?

Now I’m back in the UK, and I already know I’d love to go and do it all again. I hope to continue teaching English online, and I’d love to travel elsewhere in the world to embark on a similar project in the future. I’m interested in exploring a more advanced TEFL certification – maybe Level 5 – or even a CELTA course which provides a certificate for teaching English to adults.

For now, all I can do is offer my sincere gratitude to everyone who helped make the trip happen for me – the staff at both De Montfort University in the UK and the Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University in Thailand, the group I travelled with and also for the support of my boyfriend and my family.

I will never forget this fantastic time, and I would urge anyone who ever gets a similar opportunity to grasp it! You won’t regret it!

Check out some of my photos @sarahhayleyl and video (below) made by a close friend and teaching partner from the trip. The pictures and video only begin to paint the story of an unforgettable trip!

Students visit European Parliament on trip to Brussels and Ypres

Nine students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) visited Brussels for a three-day study tour organised by East Midlands Labour MEP Rory Palmer.

The students acted as facilitators in a programme arranged for 30 school pupils from Nottinghamshire.

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The DMU group at NATO headquarters

The visit was organised in conjunction with #DMUglobal, the university’s pioneering international experience programme, which aims to enrich studies, broaden cultural horizons and to develop key skills valued by employers.

The itinerary, which included visits to First World War battlefield sites in Flanders, meetings in the European Parliament and a briefing by the United States Mission at NATO headquarters was designed to improve the students’ knowledge and understanding of democracy, good governance, global citizenship and internationalism.

The first calling point was Ypres in France where the students participated in the sounding of the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate memorial. Fatimath Bawa-Allah, Evie Chambers and Maria Tariq formed an official bearer party to lay a wreath in memory of the allied forces that fell in and around Ypres between 1914 and 1918.

“I was proud to have the honour of laying a wreath at the Menin Gate on behalf of DMU,” Law student Maria Tariq said.

Brussels 3A DMU wreath laid at the Menin Gate

The party then travelled to Brussels, stopping briefly at the Tyne Cot cemetery, where nearly 12,000 men and boys are buried. The sight of row on row of headstones in the morning sunshine, many of them unmarked, had an emotional impact on the students who spent 30 minutes in quiet reflection at the immaculately kept Commonwealth War Graves Commission site.

Rory Palmer MEP said: “Visiting the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot Cemetery gave the DMU students an important opportunity to reflect on the devastating events happening in mainland Europe a hundred years ago.

“The students found this part of the visit deeply moving and have gained a better understanding of the terrible sacrifices made during the First World War.”

On arrival in Brussels, the students toured the House of European History museum before a behind the scenes look at the European Parliament, including a visit to the Hemicycle where 751 MEPs vote on major policy issues.

Later the group engaged in a lively career speed dating session with a range of European decision makers and opinion formers including MEPs, parliament staff, journalists and political advisers.

Brussels 4DMU students with Rory Palmer MEP at Nato Headquarters

The wide range of job opportunities available in government circles proved surprising to many of those taking part, particularly Hafsah Dassu who is studying Economics.

“I really appreciated the speed dating activity,” Hafsah said. “Speaking with people from diverse backgrounds in influential positions opened my eyes to the opportunities available to me, and they are not beyond my reach.”

The trip concluded with a rare visit to NATO’s new European Headquarters which houses around 4,000 staff from 29-member countries. The students received a private briefing on the arrangements for security co-operation in Europe and North America that were put in place via a treaty signed in Washington DC in 1949.

The visit was hosted by the US delegation whose representatives fielded a range of challenging question from their guests on subjects ranging from the terrorist threat to nuclear deterrence.

International Business Postgraduate student Fatimath Bawa-Allah said: “This has been a real eye-opener for me. Despite not being an EU citizen, it made me understand the impact that Brexit will have in so many different ways.

“The visit to the Parliament and to NATO was very enlightening and I want to thank Rory for giving me the opportunity to take part.”

Brussels 5Students take part in ‘speed dating’ with European Parliament staff

Rory Palmer concluded: “I’ve always believed that young people should have the chance to visit political institutions and see how they work at first hand.

“When I became a Member of the European Parliament I was determined to listen to young people and to involve them in my work. I’ve visited schools and colleges and met with youth councils; this unique trip to Ypres and Brussels was the next stage of that work.

“I’ve really enjoyed hosting this group of students from DMU. From what they’ve told me, they’ve found it interesting, enjoyable and a valuable learning experience.

“Throughout the trip the students demonstrated a strong understanding of global challenges and had clear and informed thoughts about the UK’s place in the world. They represented the university and their communities with distinction. There is great potential for some of these young people to become the diplomats, politicians and leaders of the future.

“Like others of their generation, they are intelligent, articulate and have clear ideas on how to improve society for the better. They are inspiring and they should give us all hope and optimism for the future.”

History students thrive on teaching placements in sunny Spain

From bustling Barcelona to rural Igualada, two De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students are reaping the benefits of year-long teaching placements.

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Kayleigh at the top of Tibidabo, the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola, overlooking Barcelona

History BA (Hons) students Kayleigh Cardy and Cory Hancock are developing valuable workplace skills as English language teaching assistants, while immersing themselves in Spanish culture.

The placement was organised through DMU’s Erasmus+ programme, which is offered through university’s award-winning overseas opportunities scheme #DMUglobal.

Participating students can receive funding to do a work placement for two to 12 months in Europe, after their second year of study and receive support from #DMUworks, the university’s careers programme.

Based in Barcelona, Kayleigh is working with children as young as one and up to 16, learning to tailor her teaching from simple songs and games with younger pupils to speaking practice with older students.

The 20-year-old from Braintree in Essex said: “The experience has been one big highlight. Seeing the students improve and knowing that I’m contributing to their education and future is so rewarding.

“It’s been so much more than a placement. I’ve travelled, I’ve learned about a whole new culture and I’ve grown as a person. It’s highlighted what I can achieve when I set my mind on something and I feel better prepared for my final year of university as I’m more independent and confident.”

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Cory taking in Barcelona’s panoramic views from Bunkers del Carmel, an anti-aircraft battery during the Spanish Civil War

Kayleigh decided to do a year’s placement after a trip to Thailand with #DMUglobal, the university’s international experience programme. During her seven-day stay she had the chance to work as a language assistant in a school in Bangkok.

“I became passionate about teaching abroad, something I hadn’t considered as a potential job before. For me, there was no better time to try it out properly than while at university, where I could get support if I needed it,” she said.

“The placement team has been extremely valuable. From helping prepare me for the interview stage to being the first people from back home to visit me in Barcelona, they have been a very big comfort and it’s great to have understanding professionals to talk to about my experiences.”

Cory is teaching 11- to 16-year-old students in Igualada, a municipality in the province of Barcelona. He works with groups of four to five students at a time, supporting them with their spoken English.

“I wanted to do a placement to broaden my cultural awareness and I’m really proud of the way I’ve adapted to Spain, overcoming the language barrier to gain in-depth knowledge of their education system,” said the 21-year-old from Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.

“The experience has made me far more organised and responsible than I’ve ever been, which is a strong position to be going into my most important year at university.”

Thanks to a workplace module on his course, which supports all second-year students to gain work experience in a professional environment, Cory had previously completed a six-week placement at Leicester City Football Club (LCFC).

Working closely with the club’s historian in the archives, Cory had the chance to try his hand at a range of tasks from providing up-to-date team stats and taking part in an event for fans to sorting newspaper clippings about former players and sitting in on interviews with them.

He said: “As different as my two placements have been, I learned transferable skills at LCFC that I’ve been able to apply to my teaching. They’ve also both taught me to be resilient, which is a crucial life skill.

“I definitely believe that DMU is setting me up for future success, whatever my career might be. I’ve had so many opportunities to develop my skills in different areas and I feel very grateful.”

Students to learn from global health experts in Amsterdam

Students from De Montfort University, Leicester (DMU) are travelling to Amsterdam to learn how Dutch health experts tackle issues of sexual health, drug use and birth control.More than 140 students are set to fly to the Dutch capital today for a week-long trip through the university’s #DMUglobal programme, which offers students international experiences to bring their studies to life.

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Students studying Nursing, Midwifery, Psychology, Education Studies, Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science, Pharmacy and Forensic Science will explore the city learning from health experts how authorities tackle issues like prostitution, drug use and sexual health.

Nursing, Midwifery and Psychology students will take a journey through the human body at The Body Worlds exhibition, where they will examine what makes people happy and the how daily decisions affect our propensity for happiness.

Student nurses will also visit the city’s Museum of Prostitution where they will learn about the history of Amsterdam’s sex worker industry and reflect upon the ways in which personal and societal attitudes and stigma can impact on health inequalities.

Meanwhile, Midwifery students will visit the Koninklijke Nederlandse Organisatie van Verloskundigen (KNOV), the Dutch equivalent of the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). There they will learn the differences between the Dutch and English midwifery techniques and receive a lecture on the unique Dutch birth model.

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Students will also have the opportunity to visit some of the capital’s favourite museums including the Anne Frank House museum, marking the life of the Jewish Holocaust victim, and the Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum, where they will learn about the advent of the Dutch tolerance policy, information on how cannabis works as a medicine, as well as the cultural and religious use of marihuana and hash.

Dr Steven Lyttle, Head of School Applied Social Sciences, said: “The purpose of this trip is to engage students in debates around the global health and social care agenda, with reference to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We will be focusing in particular on SDG 3 which aims to achieve good health and wellbeing for people of all ages by 2030.

“Amsterdam is a perfect location to have these events because a quite different approach to health and wellbeing has been adopted there compared to the UK and they are achieving some startling results in areas such as teenage pregnancy which are among the lowest in Europe.

“We are hoping that students will return to Leicester with an understanding of how their professional area has a role to play in achieving the SDGs, and we hope too that they have a better understanding that change happens in a cultural context and this will mean that what they need to do in the UK might be different from what is needed in other parts of the world.”

DMU Global funds Lydia’s New Zealand research trip

A rugby historian from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has won a new scholarship to spend five weeks doing research in New Zealand.Lydia Furse is the first history PhD student to be awarded funding to advance her research through the university’s DMUglobal programme.

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Previously, DMUglobal has offered thousands of students trips all around the world to further their studies but is now extending its offers to help those taking on postgraduate research.

Lydia said the trip to New Zealand – a legendary nation in the global history of rugby – would give her invaluable insights into the culture and history of women players in rugby union.

She said: “The DMUglobal scholarship is designed to support international collaboration, which is perfect for my PhD project as I am researching the global history of women playing rugby union.

“New Zealand is a particularly significant country in the history of rugby, and getting the chance to immerse myself in the culture and history during this five-week research trip will be greatly beneficial to my understanding of the significance of women playing rugby in New Zealand culture.

“The DMUglobal trip will be an opportunity to undertake more primary research and to present some of the work l have already completed to an international audience. I’m delighted to be the first student from the ICSHC to receive this award and would encourage others to apply for it in the future.

“During the research trip, I will be able to visit archives, both local and national, and conduct interviews with former players to enrich my research as a truly international project and better reflect the significance of New Zealand in the history of women playing rugby union.”

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She added: “The application for DMUglobal required me to clearly state the aims of my research trip, which has encouraged me to take a varied approach to this trip, using to to complete primary research, network with New Zealand academics, and present my research at two international universities.”

Lydia has also had help and support from the World Rugby Museum, which also supervises her through the Collaborative Doctoral Programme. She said she hoped this trip could lay some of the foundations for an academic side to the Women’s Rugby World Cup, scheduled for 2021 in New Zealand.

“I am really grateful for the help that DMUglobal has given me, as this trip is vital for me to further enhance the international aspects of my research,” said Lydia.

DMU Global delivers dream international experience for Midwifery student Becky

Becky Telling’s dream from the age of 14 has been to help people in Peru – and De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) international experience programme has made it happen.

The Midwifery student headed to South America with #DMUglobal, volunteering at a healthcare centre in the capital, Lima, as well as at a clinic in the slums.

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Her increased cultural understanding along with a host of other DMU experiences will help inform her first job as a community midwife, which she starts next month.

Becky said: “I have always wanted to work in Peru but I didn’t know how I’d achieve it. #DMUglobal made it happen.”

She spent two-and-a-half weeks in the country for her alternative learning experience, staying with a Peruvian family.

“We saw a side of Peru we wouldn’t have if we’d been at a hotel,” said Becky, who had already learnt Spanish to aid communication.

“I volunteered at a healthcare centre. One of the midwives’ sisters worked in a midwifery clinic on the edge of the desert in a slum area, so I started helping her in the evenings. I had never seen poverty on that scale before.

“The biggest challenge was how to provide the best care without resources. They told me my best contribution was education and to get as much expertise in the UK and bring it back to Peru.”

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It was DMU’s global outlook that attracted New Zealand-born Becky to study in Leicester.

“#DMUglobal drew me in,” said the 22-year-old, who moved with her family to Bedford in the UK aged eight.

Having always wanted to work in healthcare, Becky has enjoyed the 50/50 split of theory and practice on her course, along with lecturers’ varied teaching styles.

“The staff and mentors are very good at helping you progress and giving the right level of support as you need to start making clinical decisions,” she said.

Becky describes her placements as “tough but amazing”, with case-holding – in which final-year students provide continuity of care for up to 10 women with minimal supervision – her favourite.

“It’s the first time I felt like a midwife,” said Becky. “I was with one woman at her first appointment, I did most of the antenatal care, delivered the baby and provided postnatal care and it was amazing to share the journey.”

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Other highlights include her “confidence-building” role as a DMU brand ambassador and a second #DMUglobal trip with the Square Mile India project, to provide basic midwifery training to care assistants.

The learning went both ways. “Breastfeeding levels in India are high and the support is amazing – we learnt so much from them,” said Becky.

This experience fed into an art exhibition celebrating breastfeeding, held on campus, organised by Becky and fellow members of the Midwifery Society.

Becky is “excited” to take up her role as a newly qualified community midwife with the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

“I’m so happy to stay in Leicester,” she added. “The multicultural mix makes the city so interesting and prepares us to work anywhere in the world.”

Any students interested in a volunteering experience like Becky’s should check out the latest opportunities from #DMUglobal in Mexico and Cambodia.

How an International Exchange with DMU Global gave us the best year of our life

Three students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have urged others to sign up for a year’s trip overseas after returning from an incredible experience in the USA.

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Saminee, Lauren and Oliver back at DMU after a year’s study in the US

Oliver Luscombe and Lauren Mansey, who are final year Politics and International Relations students, and Saminee Foster, who is in her final year studying Business Management, travelled to America thanks to the #DMUglobal International Exchange programme.

The programme offers DMU students the opportunity to study overseas at partner universities outside of Europe, for an academic year. The overseas studies are a sandwich year. This means students have the freedom to go off-piste and explore alternative subjects for 12 months, before returning to complete their DMU studies.

Applications for next year opened today and Oliver, Laura and Saminee say students should grab the opportunity with both hands.

Oliver, who spent a year at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, not too far from the metropolis of Atlanta, explained: “The thing that I enjoyed most was choosing what to study and mould together my own learning experience for a year. It meant I was studying alternative subjects that I would not get to cover during my degree at DMU. So I was getting the basics in marketing, I was learning about economics and studying business management as well as obviously studying politics.

“Essentially it was an incredible experience that I feel has increased my employability. I thrust myself into a different country and culture for a year and now I feel like I can take on anything.

“I was able to see American politics from an American’s point of view and also understand how they see UK politics. I now see my studies in a different light. And I have made friends from all over the world who were on similar exchange programmes. I would recommend it 100 per cent.”

Lauren studied for a year at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, thanks to a friendship she formed with an American studying at DMU.

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Lauren, second right, with fellow students and teacher Dr Will Daniel at a US conference

She said: “I met Kylie Cracknell when she was a Fresher at DMU and we were in a lot of modules together in the second year. So when she returned to Francis Marion I went over and studied with her there. We were roommates and I have made a friend for life. In fact she is back at DMU studying a Master’s!

“I always knew I wanted to study abroad but what this year has done is give me a massive boost in my confidence. It was such a fantastic experience.”

Lauren joined the South Carolina Student Legislature which involves students from across the state coming together and debating Bills which are going before the US Government. Each person has to stand for one piece of legislature and be prepared to defend their stance.

Lauren said: “You really have to have done your homework and know your stuff because the other students pick your arguments apart. It was terrifying at times. If you can do that you can do anything.

“Your work is actually sent to the State House for consideration. My Bill was for the introduction of vehicle safety inspections as there are no MOT rules in the state. So if you see that become law in the next couple of years you’ll know where it came from!”

Lauren also attended the Midwest Political Science Association conference in April and presented a paper on the EU referendum, which has now become the basis for her dissertation.

Saminee studied for a year at East Carolina University in Greenville, which is, somewhat confusingly for non-locals, in North Carolina.

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Saminee gets her kicks on Route 66 as part of an excursion with pals 

She said: “I studied a bit of everything. I had to choose three subjects related to business then anything else I wanted. So I did Management, Anthropology and even Alien Studies, which looks at claims of extra-terrestrial activity and studies the evidence to prove it is a hoax.

“I learned so much being out there and feel like I have come back a new person. The friendships you form are fantastic and I was also working with the LGBT Resource Office.  So you are not just studying but working with the community. I would say to anyone considering an International Exchange, they have to do it. When you graduate you can be so busy with new jobs you may not get the chance to do something similar again.”

For more details on the opportunities available through the #DMUglobal Exchange Programme, which offers opportunities in the USA, Canada and South Korea, follow this link.

DMU Global students see the macabre and the magical at German Plastinarium

Students entered a bizarre but mesmerising world of dissected body sculptures as part of this week’s #DMUglobal trip to Berlin.

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The Biomedical Science and Medical Science students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) were a bit perturbed when they prepared to step into the Plastinarium, in the sparse and unassuming town of Gruben, on the Polish border east of Berlin.

Because Dr Hans Gunther Von Hagens’ has earned himself a worldwide reputation for indulging in the macabre by using his patented ‘plastination’ method to preserve donated bodies in silicone and turn them into artworks.

However, within a few minutes the students’ anxiety had lifted and they were in awe of what the museum was offering them.

A fascinating talk from their guide helped the students understand the plastination process, while a tour behind the scenes allowed those with strong stomachs to see bodies being dissected and prepared in silicone for distribution to medical teaching colleges and universities around the world.

They were then free to take in all the exhibits which included bodies stripped back to muscles and tendons, preserved, and then posed as, among other things, a gymnast, a hurdler, a painter and a ballet dancer. There were also dissected and plastinated animals, such as a 20ft great white shark and even a giraffe.

Medical Sciences student Suresh Vaddiraju said the experience was more magical than macabre, and he would like to donate his body to the Plastinarium.

“I did not expect it all to be as mesmerising as this,” he explained. “The whole process of dissection and plastination is insane. I think it has been magical…although there is always that thought that these were real people.

“I have made up my mind and will donate my body for plastination. It is more interesting than being buried or cremated and I am donating my organs anyway. So, why not? People will learn from me and they can see me forever.”

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The educational benefits for the students were huge. Both the Medical and Biomedical courses teach modules on anatomy.

Biomedical Sciences second year Ola Akosile said: “I would recommend this trip to any science students. It has been a 3D consolidation of everything we have been learning.

“It’s also good for anyone who wants to be mesmerised by something you will have never seen the likes of before. It has been magnificent.”

Swaburhah Batanda, a second-year Medical Science student, said: “It has helped to actually see the dissections and body parts rather than just read about it and look at pictures. This is definitely going to help me going into my second year.”

Regilyn Lopez, second-year Biomedical Science student, said: “It has been extremely good…quite a weird experience. This is really helpful to our studies. I would recommend a trip to the Plastinarium to everyone studying a science. It is a cool experience if you have the stomach for it!”

Zoe Redshaw, who lectures the students on anatomy, said: “I think this trip was the main reason for us all coming to Berlin. One of the students told me visiting the Plastinarium helped her understand her course and could see all she had learned coming together for her. It has helped them all make sense of what they have learned.”

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The Plastinarium takes around 1,500 hours to dissect and preserve one body. They are heavily oversubscribed with people wanting to donate their bodies to the cause. Each body costs a university between £60,000 and £80,000 to buy for teaching.

Around 200 students have arrived in Berlin in what has been called the most ambitious #DMUglobal trip yet. Three groups of students started their journeys through Europe in Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris to work with refugees and supporting organisations.

They are all coming together in Berlin at a special summit today, to discuss their experiences and see what next steps can be taken in their mission to meet UN goals and promote global citizenship.

Many are also taking part in academic trips, relevant to their degrees, to add to their learning at DMU, inspiring each student with distinct experiences that will prepare them to enter the global jobs market.

DMU Global students make a difference as they travel through Europe to help refugees

It was the first day of action in what is being called the most ambitious #DMUglobal trip so far – and more than 200 De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students found out what it was like to really make a difference to those in need across Europe.

The students travelled through the continent working to support refugees in four different cities in a project organised between #DMUglobal, the university’s pioneering international experiences programme, and #DMUlocal, the award-winning project that brings about change in communities.

The students flew from the UK in four groups to Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin to get hands-on experience working with groups or communities supporting refugees and other disadvantaged people.

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From tomorrow the students will come together in the German capital to take part in a DMU event focused around the concept of global citizenship.

Many will also take part in academic trips, relevant to their degrees, to add to their learning at DMU, inspiring each student with distinct experiences that will prepare them to enter the global jobs market.

DMU students in Brussels began their visit to the city by travelling to Serve the City, a global movement of volunteers providing practical support for the homeless and refugees. It was started in Brussels in 2005 and is now active in 100 cities around the world.

The centre is a lifeline for those without a home, offering them a warm, dry and safe place to stay each night. Students helped to prepare a nutritious breakfast for those who had stayed at the centre overnight and handed out toiletry kits. A total of 300 meals were made-up and served by DMU students

Speech and Language Therapy student Dinithi O’Gorman said: “It’s all about finding out what we can do to make their day better in a small way.”

DMU Law student Kalem Todd added: “It’s a great experience. We’re in a different country and finding out about the circumstances some of these people have faced. It has been a good experience to come here and do something so worthwhile.”

In Paris, students visited Utopia 56, an organisation that mobilises citizens to support refugees living on the streets across the capital and beyond.

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First they learned about Utopia 56’s mission, followed by volunteering at its migrant centre, which included assisting vulnerable people, sorting through donations and preparing items such as hygiene kits.

Symone Ashley, a Business, Economics and International Relations MA student, said: “It was an overwhelming experience and challenging.

“I’ve taken away so many things from today. It’s made me appreciate what I have in my life and makes me want to do more to make a difference.”

While in Paris, students will also be visiting the Emmaus Centre to see how it supports families with crucial issues such as healthcare, education, accommodation and employment, and will learn about the contributions made by immigrants to France’s economic, social and cultural development through the Repères exhibition at the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigrati.

To round off their Paris trip, the students will be given a tour of the British Embassy by the British Ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn.

In Amsterdam, students visited the Tassenmuseum, alongside the Herengracht canal which historically was the most luxurious address in the city in merchants’ times.

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The museum has curated a new exhibition of bags and cases used by refugees forced to flee their country. It highlights the creativity and resourcefulness shown by refugees and considers the difficulty of knowing what to bring and what to leave.

Mental Health Nursing student Jabulani Ndlovu was moved by what he saw. He came to the UK as a refugee himself to escape the Mugabe regime and has previously said that studying to work for the NHS is ‘payback’ to the people in Britain who have offered him support since arriving in the country.

Now a naturalised UK citizen with a wife and four children, Jabulani said: “You can see pictures here of buildings that are torn apart and yet people picked what they could. It shows us sometimes that what may not seem to matter to you, matters to them. I have learned a lot today.”

The students also visited the University of Amsterdam, the largest university in the Netherlands, to meet the people behind Right to Education, an organisation which is supporting the Dutch refugee community by providing free language lessons.

Jess Bogic, from #DMUlocal, said: “The students are learning about the different projects happening here at the university. Hopefully they can take something back with them to Leicester and look at projects that we might be able to run together.”

Students arrived in Berlin on Monday and are preparing to work with refugees around the city starting early on Tuesday morning and throughout Wednesday. They will be working with the Red Cross and holding discussions with refugees at Marienfelde Refugee Centre Museum. Visits are also planned to the Real Junk Food Project, helping the team prepare meals for refugees using good food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

STUDENT VIEW: How DMU Global helped me see the world

BY OLLY SULLIVAN,
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND JOURNALISM STUDENT

Before starting at DMU, I had never left Europe. Now, in my final months of study, I’m lucky enough to say that I have added three new countries to my list, spanning three continents.

#DMUglobal wasn’t a driving force for me picking DMU, but after hearing about it on an open day and seeing the departures board outside the Hugh Aston building, I knew it was something I had to get on board with to complete my university experience.

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My first trip was in February 2017, during my second year. As part of my Corruption and its Avoidance module, myself and 12 other students flew across the globe to Hong Kong.

The culture shock was immense the very second I stepped off the plane, it was like visiting a whole new world. With no knowledge of the local language, and not much money in our pockets, our group dived straight into the deep end, immersing ourselves into the local culture, and making friends with fellow students at City University.

In all honesty, it didn’t really seem real. We had been given £400 each by the university to help fund our trip, and couldn’t have done it without the fantastic support the university offer.

My second trip was even more beneficial to my course – this time, an 11-day journalism internship in partnership with the prestigious Charles University in Prague.

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This was a perfect opportunity to practice my dream profession in the field, this time with the added difficulty of a language barrier and a city I’d yet to familiarise myself with, rather than roaming DMU campus with a notepad. Sharing my experience with other second years, as well as a handful of first years, we became a close-nit group of friends by the end, which is always an added bonus.

Finally, my third (and hopefully not final) DMUglobal trip was the mass-trip to New York City. Although some of us didn’t actually make it to New York because of the infamous ‘bomb cyclone’, it was amazing to see Times Square flooded with DMU scarf wearing students throughout our five-day stay.

The highlight of the trip was the UN Together event held at the UN HQ, where the university signed a charter with nine other higher education centres from around the globe to help combat the refugee crisis.

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The most important thing to express about DMUglobal that the trips aren’t just an opportunity to see the world, immerse yourself into new cultures, discover new experiences or make memories that last a lifetime. DMUglobal does all of these things with one key bonus – the opportunities enrich your studies.

The bursaries I received for my trips are available to all other students, and help make the trips affordable for everyone. I never expected I’d ever be able to afford to visit Hong Kong, Prague and New York City all in the space of 12 months.

Without a doubt, I feel like a better student thanks to my DMUglobal experiences, and unquestionably, I would recommend it to every single other student, either current or future.

DMU students take their research beyond borders through #DMUglobal

Postgraduate students are being given the opportunity to expand their research horizons by spending time abroad through #DMUglobal, De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) international experience programme.

Kaie Small-Warner, a PhD student in the School of Architecture, has been at the Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) in Sweden since 19 January, where she will continue her research until 27 June.

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Over the coming months, more postgraduate researchers will spend time abroad at institutions in countries such as Germany, Romania, Malta, Spain, New Zealand, Singapore and USA.

Kaie is studying for a PhD in Sustainable Built Environment and her research focuses on using business models to improve sustainability in buildings and construction.

“I’m looking at how new buildings and renovations can be more sustainable using different business approaches” she explained.

“We have innovative technology but how do we help businesses change existing practices and how do we show them that the environmental and social elements are important as well?”

During the first year of her PhD she discovered that the Blekinge Institute of Technology was doing research with a similar focus to her so she applied for an international research funding opportunity from #DMUglobal.

Due to the way that doctoral research is funded in Sweden, Kaie said that without funding from #DMUglobal she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to collaborate internationally and take her research to the next level.

She said: “I’m really grateful for this opportunity. I wanted to collaborate with the department at BTH to improve my research methodology and also have a first-hand view of how it’s being used in academic research.

“This institution focuses on innovation and sustainability. It’s a small university and they are very specialised. The framework that I’m using in my research, called strategic sustainable development, was created here in Sweden and they use it within this department.

“All of the research projects here are done in partnership with industry or other research institutions. It’s very much focused on having an impact, which is good for my PhD data collection and gaining practical knowledge.”

Kaie, who is originally from Barbados, believes that there are a range of benefits to carrying out research abroad.

She said: “Being able to make connections is really important, so this international collaboration will be very useful both for me and the university as a whole.

“There are many different elements to it. Apart from experiencing PhD research in a different environment in a different country, there’s also a different culture, different opportunities and making new friends.

“As well as the professional and research benefits, being able to go abroad is a great opportunity for personal growth.”

Students help holidaymakers in Magaluf

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students have been helping holidaymakers stay safe during nights out in Magaluf.

Health and Wellbeing in Society students and their tutors worked with Street Angels, volunteer teams who patrol the resort’s nightlife district, to provide basic first aid and other assistance to partygoers.

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Student volunteers help a man with a sprained ankle in Magaluf

An unconscious young man was among those assisted by the DMU group, who provided comfort, called for an ambulance and tried to track down his hotel and friends based on his room key.

Volunteering was the highlight of a ‘memorable’ trip to the Spanish island of Majorca for student Sue Litchfield.

She said: “I had heard of Magaluf’s reputation, but hearing and seeing are two different things.

“I was shocked by the behaviour but also filled with compassion to help. I will definitely be going back again to help.”

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Students join Street Angels in Magaluf’s nightlife district

This was just one of the activities that enabled students to apply their learning in a real-life context and analyse factors conducive to risky health behaviours.

Trip lead Zaqia Rehman said: “The inspiration was seeing news reports about young British tourists in Spain who were falling from balconies because of reckless and alcohol-related behaviours.

“We teach social, psychological and political indicators to health behaviours, for example in workshops students look at why some people smoke or don’t wear seatbelts.

“We decided to do this on an international scale and compare Leicester with Magaluf.”

She said the volunteer shift between 3am and 7am – which saw students provide basic first aid to a woman who had cut her foot on glass on the beach and bandage a man’s sprained ankle – was a ‘fantastic experience’ that challenged students’ cultural expectations.

“We also wanted students to gain more rounded views and challenge stereotypes of tourists. Any time we were attending a partygoer, it was young white British women who came forward to help,” said Zaqia.

“All students reported a positive response from members of the public – one of our students was even recognised by a passenger at East Midlands airport.”

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Students share their thoughts on the #DMUglobal trip activities

Seeing how people behave in a different country has boosted Sue’s understanding of her subject.

“People dress differently, talk differently and act differently,” she said.

“Safety was a big thing and people just didn’t seem to take the precautions that they would probably take at home and seemed to rely on everyone around them to do everything for them.”

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DMU students at the international conference

Other activities during the five-day trip, offered through the university’s #DMUglobal international experience programme, included an observational day at a family-friendly beach in the capital, Palma, and attending the 40th International Conference of the Stress and Anxiety Research Society. Students attended presentations and workshops and saw Zaqia and colleague Dr Chris Elsey present their research.

Sue added: “It was easy to see that each country brought a different perspective on stress and resilience alone never mind the various other health issues we deal with every day.

“Different cultures and backgrounds give us different ways of looking at things, so we can find solutions together to help everyone.

“I learned much on the trip, especially from the diverse range of students who participated and the incredibly knowledgeable staff who went with us from DMU.”