A teaching trip to Wuhan Central Normal University in China as a final year social work student from Griffith University
by Jerry from China, Bachelor of Social Work – Logan campus
I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to become a teaching assistant to accompany my lecturer (Jane Fowler) to a teaching trip to China while I am still a final year social work student at Griffith University. I suppose this might be one of the advantages being open to challenges and one of only a handful of Chinese students studying social work. From my understanding, there are only few Chinese students opting into social work program at Griffith or even in Australia. The social work profession is a growing field in China and gaining tremendous attention from the Chinese government. So I think we’ll see it becoming more popular and more Chinese students enrolling in the near future!
Thanks to the advanced social work development and education in Australia, China Central Normal University (CCNU) chose Griffith as a partner to establish a link and aim to co-train future Chinese social workers from undergraduate level. This collaboration program is planned for Chinese students to study two years in CCNU in China and another two years at Griffith in Australia. In doing this, these students would embrace an international experience of social work and help them to develop their knowledge and skills from a multicultural perspective. This program has been recognised as the first collaboration program from a Chinese university to partner with a western university to co-operate on training social work students, because of the increasing demand for social workers in China.
During a leadership workshop as part of the social work program, I got a piece of news from my lecturer. Jane was about to embark on a teaching trip to CCNU to teach group facilitation as part of the social work program over there. Because of my understanding in both culture and language, I was asked whether I would be interested in helping out with this program to assist her teaching and learning Chinese culture over the two weeks stay in Wuhan. In addition, Jane said she considered me as a mentor for her to enhance her knowledge about China, as this was her first trip to China. This has been a huge thing among my student cohort, as I became a mentor for a lecture and would set off for a teaching trip. Most importantly, I have received a lot support from my own social work school.
Upon our arrival in Wuhan, it was a raining day and it was quite humid over there. As it was the first time for Jane to come to China, she was curious about everything but couldn’t understand what they were, because of different languages and cultural practices. It was also my first time to visit that city. I became to act as her interpreter while we were in Wuhan and working with CCNU. As part of my role was to assist Jane with her teaching and learning Chinese culture, travelling and eating all around the city and even part of the country became our agenda during our spare time. This was also the case for me when I first came to Australia. I took her to Shanghai, Wuzhen(water town) and Hangzhou to see the south part of China and its incredible modern development in recent years. Of course, local cuisine would be her best attempts to learn Chinese culture, as Chinese people suggested that people live to eat. There is a variety of food for her to try and experience the uniqueness of each city. In China, nearly every city has its own special food or items for them to brag about. For example, the special food in Wuhan is hot-dry-noodles; we can see people eating it almost everywhere in the street early in the morning.
With regard to the teaching group facilitation and social work, we found out that students barely understood what social work is, which is not uncommon for most Chinese people. So we thought it would be a good idea to enhance their understanding of social work through our teaching and give them some experiences of studying in Australia. Most importantly, I had my first teaching experience. I presented a mini-lecture on conflict resolution skills, since I have been doing many studies in this topic. Beside academic learning, I offered them an opportunity to explore life in Brisbane and talked about Student Linx to give them an idea of how Griffith might help them get involved and immersed in local cultures.
We divided the class into groups. We used a variety of animals from Australia as a way for us to group students with an Australian animal’s name, such as emu, koala and kangaroos. This turned out to be a fantastic strategy that students were intrigued by these exotic animals and soaked up heaps of Australian culture. As a courtesy from Griffith University, we wanted to give students some gifts. Yet, we’d like to find an interesting avenue to give out these Griffith gifts. So we set up a competition and wanted to know what they might have learnt from us through their own creative ways of presenting their learning outcomes over past few days. On the day, their presentations were astonishing and exceptional which I think this part was the most impressive experience of the teaching trip. We were all impressed by their creative styles of presenting and what they had learnt in such short time.
By introducing some iconic events and what Australians would be excited about was another appealing thing for these students to learn, particularly regarding Queensland where they would head to. So we held a State of Origin party and wish to watch it live via Internet. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, so a back up plan was used to teach students some basic stuff about the State of Origin and its significance to Queenslanders. Suddenly, they became a fan of the maroon! Interestingly, students who wore the blue clothes or anything related to the blue, went back to their dormitory to change to the maroon related colour. What a supportive group!!!! We still had the party with some beer and pizzas to celebrate this special occasion in an Aussie style. I think this was great mix of both Chinese and Australia cultures while we were in China.
On the night before we left Wuhan, we had a dinner and Karaoke with around 30 students from this program. It seems like students enjoyed themselves and didn’t want Jane to leave. It has been a fantastic time to work with them over these two weeks and I hope to see them again in near future at Griffith.
Check out some of the photos from Jerry’s trip: