Lakeland and NorQuest students support international partnership

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February 6, 2019
Disadvantaged Tanzanian learners share their success stories with Lakeland College.
Representatives from Lakeland and NorQuest College completed the first portion of Mission 7 in their three-year project with the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) in Tanzania. The partnership has created opportunities for at-risk Tanzanian students to upgrade their math, English and study skills.
 
From Jan. 3-15, Ben Acquaye, a Lakeland business instructor, Justyna Kolodziej, a Lakeland business student, and Nozipho Moyo, a NorQuest business student, travelled to the African country to work on marketing and promotional outcomes, such as recording student success stories.
  
“Being part of this project was an unbelievable experience. We were in class with the students almost every day, talking to them and writing their stories about how this project has helped them. Some students couldn’t speak English or get in front of the class before this project but have found the confidence to do it,” says Justyna. Justyna and Moyo also interviewed past students, administrators and instructors about their experience with the project.
 
The project was part of Colleges and Institutes Canada’s (CICan) Improving Skills Training for Employment Program (ISTEP). ISTEP is funded by the Government of Canada. All 13 ISTEP projects will be meeting in Arusha, Tanzania on Feb. 12 and 13 to do a presentation on their projects. CICan will be producing posters for each partnership. The stories Justyna and Moyo collected will be featured at this CICan exhibition, says Acquaye.
 
VETA student Paul Hosea entered the ISTEP project to improve his mathematics proficiency but says he gained much more from the program - improved English and communication, team building and networking skills.
 
“You know it is special. I feel we are really getting what we need from this experience. I wish this program was every year because not only does it help me gets closer to my goals, but it also helps me go beyond what I thought was possible for me,” says Hosea, adding that this project opens doors for him to work with people from various countries such as Canada, Australia or Hungary.
 
For Mary Masweko, a VETA welding and metal fabrication student, participating in the project meant improving her English language skills and learning how to work in a team setting. “We get the confidence to speak with people from other countries who do not know Swahili,” Masweko says. 
 
Justyna says her involvement with the project was a privilege and something she never thought she’d ever do. “In almost every interview, the students shared how they were confident about speaking in front of the class. I could see me in them and them in me. English is not my first language (Polish), so I think that made the experience much more special.
 
“I learned from this experience that when opportunities like this come up – take it. Things that make you uncomfortable or scared could make great things happen. This is what happened to me.” 
 
Lakeland will continue to provide training and consulting work on the project until its completion on March 31. The project started in April 2016. 
 
Jackie Bender, interim dean of university transfer, was involved in the delivery and teacher training components of the first pilot in January 2018. She is joining the second part of Mission 7 as a math subject expert. 
 
Angie Rowsell, a health and wellness instructor, and Elaine Stefanick, the lead project coordinator, will participate in the first part of Mission 8. 
 
Photos: (Top-Bottom) Justyna Kolodziej (left) and Nozipho Moyo (right) with two VETA students (centre). Ben Acquaye (left) interacts with VETA students during a class. Mary Masweko during her interview with Justyna and Moyo. Paul Hosea after his interview with Justyna and Moyo.
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