What have you witnessed through your activities?
I think, definitely from the initiatives that we've done together, is that there is a big need for students to want to belong. And that happens at all levels. So, between students and their peers, but between teaching staff and professional staff, I think, students are very willing to want to build those relationships.
It can happen organically, or it cannot happen organically. It changes every year with every cohort of students. But the best thing is to have some type of-- something involved where you are trying to build a sense of community. Whether it's online or face-to-face. You need to do something about that to try and get people to talk to each other, to socialise, so that they feel that they are really-- the students feel like they are in a safe place where they feel confident and liked. And then, once you do this, you get a lot more creativity out of them.
The activities that we undertake in our program is an introductory orientation work, where we actually get the students to design a chair called the "me chair", where they have to describe themselves to the rest of the community, the group. We take them down to the Yarra, and then we walk them through the city explaining the history and the context of the city. Which is really critical for international and interstate students who have come here for the first time, to understand the ideas of where we are. But then I also-- then we also take them through the University and explain the history of the University, about the Melbourne Gaol and the context of that. But then we actually get them to present to the other students. So, they get to see how other people can talk as well. And so, the activities are about sharing. And that's really one thing that we really stress in our program. It's about sharing and that's part of belonging, about accepting others and understanding that others are different.
[Marco De Sisto]
I think, there are two different assumptions, especially from academic point of view.
The first one is that students, because they are in the same class doing the tutorials of the lecture, therefore they already have this kind of sense of belonging by nature, I don't know. And the second thing is that, to encourage this belonging, they will deduce-- they create like a Facebook page or we use social media heavier than before. If we [inaudible] *0:02:26.0 want to witness and I'm not sure if you witnessed the same things, but we created a physical space for different nights where everyone comes there and we have like eye contact, human contact, relationship. And it is outside the control or the formal standardised classroom model. And this is what, I think, was the real success and why the students appreciate it.
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