Victoria University study tour in Vizag leads to intercultural worldliness


VISAKHAPATNAM: A group of academics and students from the Victoria University, Melbourne have collaborated with Catherine Academy, Bheemunipatnam as part of a two-week study tour to India. According to the Australian team, the collaborative work of the tour is underpinned by a shared vision of social justice and transformative education. They said that this will extend the fruits of the initiative to pupils from the least advantaged and marginalised sections, who could not otherwise have accessed formal education avenues.
The study tour will help students and local educators help design their curriculums in a creative, progressive way.Holistic learning would be the key focus of the initiative.
Speaking to ToI, associate professor Marcelle Cacciattolo said that 55 students and six academics from Victoria University, Melbourne have participated in three study tours to Catherine Academy in Visakhapatnam since 2016. “Each of these study tours has been funded by the department of foreign affairs and trade under the ‘New Colombo Plan’. Victoria University has worked alongside staff, students and the leadership team during this time in ways that strengthen international partnerships. The Australian government is committed to providing Australian university students with opportunities to travel to Asian destinations to engage in a range of intercultural activities. Study abroad programs like the Story Writing in Remote Locations (SWiRL) India Program aims to broaden and strengthen intercultural worldliness for participants who are involved.,” said Cacciattolo.

Victoria University study tour in Vizag leads to intercultural worldliness

Another associate professor Mark Vicars said that the intercultural exchange between Victoria University and Catherine Academy, Vizag has led to the creation of several exciting projects. “These included the publication of three illustration books called Words and Pictures – SWiRL india. While the illustrations to the story books were designed by Catherine school students, school students from St Albans Primary School and Point Cook Secondary College, Australia worked with Victoria University preservice teachers and their teachers to write stories and poems that accompany each illustration. This project is a wonderful example of how school students from different parts of the world and from different cultural contexts can come together to celebrate multicultural ways of knowing and being,” said Vicars.
Dr Greg Aronson, an Australian faculty, said that another study tour project between Victoria University and Catherine Academy involved the design, production and performance of a musical concert. “Music teachers from Victoria University alongside the teachers at Catherine Academy created musical songs that reflected key learning areas in the curriculum. For example, songs were written about mathematical angles and language skills were developed through song and rhyme. Students were also able to use dance as a modality for expressing their cultural values and beliefs,’ said Dr Aronson. The other academic team members included Dr Vijay Thalathoti, Lawry Mahon and Anne-Maree Fenech.
Oliver Rayi and Dr Evangeline Rayi of the Catherine Academy explained how the project is progressing in culturally dynamic ways. “This will help develop new and exciting cultural exchange projects in the future. The Australian team recently conducted a workshop for teachers from various local schools on primary literacies in education,” said Oliver and Dr Evangeline.
When ToI visited the Catherine Academy on Friday, the Australian team engaged the students in various outdoor and classroom activities with differentiated learning experiences that foster a love of reading, writing, and communication.


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