Uutiskirjearkisto > Uutiskirje 3/2014

Educational export to Thailand – experiences of internship at TOPIK

My name is David Delahunty, and I have recently completed my internship at the Extension school (TOPIK). I’m originally from Ireland, but I’ve been living and working in Oulu for the last fifteen years, so I’m pretty familiar with the culture and the language (my Finnish writing however is not so good, so that’s why this is in English). I’ve also lived in the U.K. and China, so you could say I’ve got a pretty international background.

The reason for my internship at TOPIK was as part of my M.A. (Edu.) in Education and Globalisation, which I’m taking at the University of Oulu, and I’m due to finish (hopefully) this academic year. I contacted Esa Niemi about the possibility of conducting my internship at the Extension school based on the advice of my programme advisor, as I trying to stay in Oulu if possible (as opposed to going to the Philippines which was my other option, due to family reasons), and just as importantly I was interested in “educational export.” I was pleasantly surprised when Esa got back to me during April regarding one such project that had materialized, and would I be interested in being involved in this.

So at the start of May I began at the extension school and my first task was to get acquainted with the project, and what needed to be done. The project was between the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) of Thailand and TOPIK. The project involved three distinct phases, all with their own challenges and specific goals. The first phase was based in Bangkok and involved sending experts from Oulu there, to conduct a one week workshop for Science teachers and administrators. The second phase involved the visit to Oulu in August of twenty Science teachers from the BMA with a schedule designed by TOPIK to incorporate various aspects based on the goals of the visit, and, the third visit was also in Oulu when in September a group of ten administrators were welcomed to Oulu by TOPIK, to engage in a week long programme specifically designed for them.  The Oulu visits were designed to reinforce and strengthen the instruction the delegates had already received in Bangkok, as well as the specific goals related to us by BMA.

Suitable experts were found from the department of education and the City of Oulu, and after several meetings and discussions they flew to Thailand to conduct the first workshop. While in Thailand our experts met with advisors to the Thai royal family, as well as various high ranking representatives of the Bangkok administration.  At the beginning of August I began the second phase of my internship and the second phase of the training for the Thai delegates was due to begin. We received reports from Thailand that the visit of our experts to Bangkok, and the training programme had been a great success and that everyone was eagerly looking forward to the Oulu phases of the visits.

For the second and third phases of the training, various departments were involved in the execution of both phases of the Oulu workshops, with the Faculty of education, Oulu City Education and Cultural services (SIKU), Oulu University teacher training school and of course TOPIK all being involved, so meetings were arranged, experts and locations confirmed and the details were relayed to Thailand, that were eagerly awaiting the upcoming visits. In total 48 experts from various departments were involved in this project, so logistics and arranging meeting times was at times challenging.

The visitors came, and while the timetable was quite demanding, excellent feedback was received from the participants, as well as from BMA regarding the content and instruction received. Other projects with Thailand have begun, with more visitors arriving in the near future from different agencies in Thailand, based on the success of this pilot project, so TOPIK is looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Thailand in the future.

There were various challenges involved in these projects, mainly due to culture, and bureaucracy on both sides, and this was an amazing opportunity for me to learn about how these projects were approached from both perspectives. I gained an amazing amount of experience, and while it was a bit daunting at first, I will be forever grateful for the experience I gained, and the contacts I have made while being involved in this project.  
While it would have been nice to lie on the beach drinking cheap beer in the Philippines, I am convinced I made the correct choice by staying in Oulu and working with TOPIK. I even got a thesis topic out of it, on surprise, surprise educational export!

David Delahunty

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