Heading to HAN

Apr 24th, 2019

Ryan Wareham and Laura Woodford

L-r: Caitlin Dillon, Taylor O'Connor, Bungalowpark de Zeven Heuvelen
Heading to HAN

Two of the School of Social Work’s bachelor of social work (BSW) students are heading to HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands in May, to join the Summer School Health, Social Studies and Sports and study with international classmates.

The Summer School program offers the opportunity to discover the Dutch approach to issues facing society today, and encourages students to be creative and to learn by doing.

Ms. Caitlin Dillon and Ms. Taylor O’Connor will be joining the Summer School program for three weeks, completing the Social Studies topic, which consists of: Addiction Care, Art Therapy, and the Creative Social Worker – exploring the Dutch Creative approach.

By virtue of the exchange agreement that Memorial has with HAN, the academic course work as part of the summer program will be the equivalent of one course at Memorial.

The opportunity to attend this exchange program with significantly reduced costs is invaluable, since one of the major challenges that students face when they travel abroad is managing the (usually) high costs. The partnership between Memorial and HAN Universities allows for two BSW students to attend the program, receiving a waiver for all program fees and a funded weekend trip to Amsterdam. They will be staying with four other exchange students in a small bungalow.

The basic requirements of being considered for an exchange program with one of Memorial’s partners include providing evidence of a solid academic background and demonstration that participation in such a program will be personally and professionally relevant and impactful. Because of the overwhelming response from qualified students within the BSW program, a fair and equitable draw took place, from which Ms. Dillon and Ms. O’Connor emerged the successful candidates.

When Ms. Caitlin Dillon, a third-year BSW student, received the news that she had been selected to attend the HAN Summer School program, she was in disbelief.

“It was similar to when I got accepted to the BSW program,” she said. “It was a dream come true.”

Throughout the past few years, Ms. Dillon has worked closely with art therapy, which involves the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting and sculpting to help people express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art. She participated in the Janeway Social Competence Intervention Program, which is a drama-based group intervention for atypical children (autism spectrum disorder, nonverbal learning disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc.). Planning to move to Ontario to study expressive art therapy after she completes her BSW program, Ms. Dillon said the chance to travel abroad and work with art therapy is fulfilling her purpose.

“It’s not really school to me, it’s more of an experience," said Ms. Dillon.

As an avid traveler, second-year BSW student Ms. Taylor O’Connor has visited France, Italy, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru and the Honduras, just to name a few. She also has family in Ireland that she regularly visits. Ms. O’Connor is excited to attend the HAN Summer School program because in addition to providing the opportunity to visit the Netherlands, she feels it will also give her some insight into social work at an international level. She said completing the HAN program will come in very handy before she embarks on her first practicum in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in the fall semester.

“I’m really an open book right now and I really want to learn as much as I can,” said Ms. O’Connor.

Memorial’s Internationalization Office (IO) helps encourage students to study abroad whenever possible, especially if partnerships can help reduce the costs for students. It has over 200 partnerships with institutions across the world, with about 140 universities available for international exchange, with a variety of programs.

Mr. Chris Hibbs, exchange coordinator for the IO, explained that there is a reciprocal relationship between the international institutions and Memorial’s students.

“They both help one another gain knowledge and meaningful relationships and experiences,” he said.

Mr. Hibbs looks after both the inbound and outbound exchange programs and works with groups of students going abroad. Amongst other things, his mandate is to let students know about existing opportunities and how they can capitalize on these opportunities.

Thanks to Memorial’s partnership with HAN University, Ms. Dillion and Ms. O’Connor are looking forward to travelling abroad, exploring their interests and passions in a new environment and gaining additional perspectives on social work at an international level.

“This is a great opportunity for BSW students and I hope it continues in the future,” said Ms. O’Connor.

Unlike most students who would rather be anywhere but school during the summer months, Ms. Dillon said she “can’t wait to go to summer school.”