Rybners/BTC Exchange 2014
The following is a continuing reflection on our exchange with EUC Vest that commenced in March, 2005 with my initial visit to Esbjerg, Denmark. Little did we know the consequences of these initial visits and the impact on our students and instructors at Bellingham Technical College (BTC) and EUC Vest.
In May of 2005 John Mortensen brought a group of students to the BTC welding rodeo and promptly won first prize for their welding sculpture in a general competition involving college students in the Pacific Northwest. We were off! In the late fall, closing in on Christmas, we reciprocated and traveled to Denmark for a memorable exchange at EUC Vest.
This year, 2014, started and ended as these things do. But in between were experiences of a lifetime for our students. All of our students in 2014 again participated in on-the-job experiences at the work places of their Danish student hosts and lived with them in their homes at various locations in the country for the first week in country.
The second week was a bit different for the students this year. The Danish students rented a summer home about 30 minutes from the college and all eight of them stayed there for the week. They prepared meals together, watched movies and traveled back and forth to school each day together. Once again they have all commented on what a rich experience this was and that they’ll never forget it. To a person they all want to encourage next years students to apply for the exchange because of the opportunities it has presented to them.
In education we ask many questions about outcomes. “What did we learn”, is a question often posed. In the following photo we were fortunate to have the most senior engineer, Jens Grauballe Erikse, from DFDS Seaways deliver instruction to the students on a variety of systems on the ship that was on the run from Harwich, England. This run was affectionately know as the “bacon run” because of the amount of bacon shipped to England. Pictured below, Jens took the time with our students for valuable one-on-one instruction on complex control and maintenance systems. I first met Jens on my 2005 trip to Denmark and because of this relationship he knew that our students were serious learners that he may have an impact on.
Educational outcomes achieved on this trip and how do we measure those outcomes? Only time and the actions of our students will tell. It is my hope that their individual reports and final presentation on 30 October will capture a bit of that. Surely it is no less than previous exchanges, and, in my opinion, even better than the previous ones. In the end however, all were spent.
This exchange only happens because of the forethought of Inger & Jens Bruun and the Scan|Design Foundation, that they created for the exchange of students from Washington State and Denmark. I often think of them looking down upon us in awe and wonder at what they created for our students. Who knows if they had an inkling of the impact that this exchange has had on our students? And who knows the future impact on our two societies through the actions of our students?