Participation in an International Occupational Therapy Course at Artevelde, Ghent, Belgium

Aileen Bergström NVS
I had the opportunity to participate in the course” International Collaboration on Free Time Occupations” at the dept. of Occupational Therapy, Artevelde University, Ghent Belgium, April 23 – 26.  This is an established course built into the Occupational Therapy curriculum, which enables “internationalization at home” for the Belgium students.  The approximately 120 Belgium students were joined by 10 OT students from Southampton, along with two of their accompanying teachers. The course included other international guest teachers from Kosovo and Spain. Together with the teachers from Artevelde, the teacher group made up a truly diverse and interesting group!

Under the guidance of one of the Artevelde teachers, we were able to visit different areas of the Artevelde campus as well as an extremely advanced rehabilitation centre in Ghent where several OT students do their placements. One unique place we visited on campus was the “Fablab” (which stands for “fabrication” – even though it was fabulous, too!). The Fablab is a place for students from different programs to meet and to fabricate solutions to problems. The students had access to different machines including a 3-dimensional printer where OT students could design and fabricate unique assistive devices for persons with difficulties doing things in everyday life. 

Besides holding our workshops on one of these four days, we participated in an international debate for the students and quizzed the students regarding their poster presentations.  At the end of the course, we decided on the best posters and student presentations. We also had an opportunity to bike around Ghent, accompanied by one of the local teachers, visiting the students on their afternoon study visits. These visits were part of their discussion and presentations on the last course day. 

And of course, the teachers, both international and local had time to sit, eat, drink, and discuss, both during the actual course and in the evenings!  Even though the teaching and the student interaction was interesting, the most beneficial learning experience was discussing ideas, problems, and solutions with this international group of teachers!  


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