Six UKZN Social Work students were in Germany on an exchange programme for two weeks.
The students were Ms Nosipho Funeka, Ms Thenjiwe Mlotshwa, Ms Nosipho Ngema, Ms Kwena Tlhaku, Mr Ntuthuko Mabuyakhulu and Mr Siphelele Mosea.
The programme is part of the Internationalisation for Building Competencies Project (IFBC) – a partnership between UKZN, Facchochschule Dortmund University in Germany, and the University of Johannesburg (UJ), funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The three principal investigators of the four-year project are Professor Michael Boecker of Facchochschule Dortmund University, Dr Maud Mthembu of UKZN and Professor Tanusha Raniga of UJ.
During the first week, the German and South African social work students deliberated on the consequences of globalisation and its implications for social work practice, specifically looking at the four key aspects of the global agenda which are promoting human rights and social justice, globalisation and poverty, working towards environmental sustainability, and promoting human rights and social cohesion.
In the second week, the students visited organisations such as Caritas to understand how social work services are implemented in Germany. The students also visited Sankt Jacobus Schule.
The visitors had the opportunity to visit tourist attractions such as the Old Industrial Mine, the City of Cologne and the Lernot Stadion.
For Mabuyakhulu, the programme was a dream come true. ‘This experience was humbling and has motivated me to work harder. It was my first time out of the country and I was able to be an ambassador for South Africa,’ he said.
Mosea said the trip had been an excellent learning experience. ‘This trip exposed me to different people. I learned that rules, morals and ethics change when you move to a different country so it is important to change the way you think about things.’
Funeka believes it’s important for students to participate in exchange programmes. ‘Students who take that leap of faith regardless of how stiff the competition seems or how daunting it is to step out of one’s comfort zone, become exceptional.’
Masters student Mlotshwa advised other students to apply when such opportunities arose. ‘Do not limit your goals, desires and knowledge just purely on South Africa – rather have a global or international outlook on life. It is also important to work hard because often in such things academic performance, community engagements, and leadership are among requirements when opportunities arise,’ she said.
Words: Melissa Mungroo