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Future teachers flex their learning muscles as international study programs return

2 min read
08 Dec 2022
students in Cambodia
Students Racqi Toomey, Amanda Edwards, Bella Hazard, Sam Brumby, Ashley Cooke-Allison, Chloe Vlamis, Amber Tracy, Candice English, Shanae-Lee Phillip-Pratt (kneeling), Tegan Bozier, Hannah Barker and Rosie Peek (Photo by Racqi Toomey)

University of Southern Queensland students have had the chance to learn and teach among the eager pupils of north-west Cambodia.

Recently, twelve students from the School of Education attended the Treak Community School in Siem Reap for two weeks under the guidance of senior lecturer Dr Katie Burke.

The experience was the first overseas study program for the school since coronavirus restrictions were put in place more than two years ago.

The students were supported by the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan (NCP) program with additional grants provided by UniSQ International.

The NCP program funds transformational overseas academic experiences in the Indo-Pacific region to deepen Australia’s relationships at the individual and university level.

“It was an immensely rich learning experience for them, developing their cultural sensitivity and their awareness of working with learners with English as an additional language,” Dr Burke said.

“Students also developed their resilience, adaptability, and empathy as they dealt with the effects of the monsoon season.”

The Treak Community School is located in Treak Village, four kilometres south of Siem Reap.

The Cambodian government-run school offers children a half day study session, working with non-governmental organisation ConCERT Cambodia to provide additional education each day in English to help build opportunities for employment and further study.

University of Southern Queensland students participated in classes and provided support to the Cambodian teachers to create a lively and interactive learning environment for the children.

The students explored the creation of additional teaching resources for the school to use in the future. The teachers asked the students to run an Australia Day activity to teach the children about Australian culture.

The future teachers also learned from the community how to make bricks from recycled plastic, one of multiple sustainability activities organised by the local school.

“I feel deeply privileged to have supervised the trip and I have been profoundly impacted by my time in the community,” Dr Burke said.

“I cannot speak highly enough of the opportunity for our students in developing as future educators for diverse classrooms.”