Danish Exchange

Reflection on EUC Vest/BTC Exchange 2013

As I searched for a report that I’ve obviously not written, I have revisited and reflected on an exchange with EUC Vest that commenced in March, 2005 with my initial visit to Esbjerg, DK. 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, 2013, we set about for an exchange that is now well defined. We have processes for participation better defined and codified. But each and every experience stands on its own. Every trip exceeds the expectations of the students and most certainly their instructors.

We did not set out in 2005 to see the largest diesel engine in the world (1962). We did not set out to see the very foundries that built these engines, nor in some cases the very foundries that mechanized the First and Second World Wars… We set out to learn the roots of our trades and crafts only to find them intermingled in the very history of the people and places we were inexorably now connected with by our exchanges.

All of our students in 2013 participated in on-the-job experiences at the work places of their Danish student hosts. All of them took me aside and thanked me for the opportunity that they had stumbled upon in their application to the exchange and their participation in it. They felt strongly that they would do whatever it took to perpetuate this exchange for future students of the Diesel and Welding programs at both EUC Vest and BTC.

The technical details of various welding processes, diesel engine technology were discussed and debated by the students from both countries and their instructors in a lively fashion the whole trip. And in fact, I even had a discussion with a student from the 2005 trip today…many of us all stay in contact; yes, including the Danish students and instructors. And their families…

This exchange has allowed a building of a community of learners that spans from the United States to Europe. We had little knowledge of this when we started this in 2005, almost 10 years ago. But at the very least, in my mind, there has been many technical issues discussed, theory debated, and language/cultural differences explored by all of us. We’re all different people because of this exchange. I’ll wager better World aware people at least. Though technical issues and education leads the exchange, I’ll wager that connections, pure people to people connections, are the most important outcome.

In education we ask many questions about outcomes. “What did we learn”, is a question often posed. We codify and parse our understanding of various societies. We discuss politics of the right, left, center and… But what do we see? I see that we’re all people in many of the same situations. Whether we’re Danish or American, we have many of the same needs and concerns in the world.

How do we measure these outcomes? Only time and the actions of our students will tell that.

And finally: This 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 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?

Jeff Curtis

originally published here:http://learningreflectionsbtc.blogspot.com/2014/04/euc-vestbtc-exchange-2013.html

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