Transcontinental collaboration and building connections with local and global graduate students
By: Amanda Tabe and Yashvi Verma, MSc in Global Health Student Ambassadors
Students in the MSc in Global Health program at McMaster University have been immersed in the unique transdisciplinary and transcontinental collaboration aspects of the program since day one. Collaborating with students from international partner universities, students were quickly immersed and had the opportunity to learn the value of international collaboration in global health as they participated in a core global health course, Foundations I. While some were able to work with students from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, others collaborated with students from Universidad del Rosario in Colombia. This provided a unique opportunity to work in international teams to address local, national, and global challenges that relate to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By working in international teams to examine policies related to global health challenges, students were able to explore and critically analyze foreign policies and learn more about the responsibilities and motivations of policymakers.
“Foundations I was a great introduction in getting the feel of working with fellow students from different countries and with different backgrounds. It was both exciting and challenging to make the process of group work online a success. I enjoyed getting to know my team members a little more each time and share the wins and struggles” – Jet Opbroek, Maastricht University
Working in virtual, transcontinental teams allows students to gain insight into what they can expect as global health professionals. Students have the chance to build friendships and form connections with like-minded students from all over the world. Working with students of different national and cultural backgrounds also encourages students to expand their thinking and approach global issues in a broader, more holistic manner. Additionally, students learn how to tackle the realities of working in an international collaborative environment by working across time zones and overcoming language and cultural barriers.
“The collaboration with the diverse group of international students has been incredibly enriching. The different perspectives of international students, partially structured by culture, the different ways of learning within each university, and past experience creates a very interesting environment of debate and building ideas together from the ground up. I’ve really liked working in this type of group which will most likely be how global health outside of school is as well.” – Natalia Restrepo, Universidad del Rosario
Transcontinental learning and international collaboration provide enriching experience that continued into the Winter 2022 term. This semester, students continue to collaborate in virtual and transcontinental teams in the Foundations II course, which includes the opportunity to work with students from Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India. As well, on campus at McMaster, with exchange students from Maastricht University and Universidad del Rosario. It is exciting to imagine future collaborations between the people we have networked with throughout this program.
“In my first weeks here, absolutely everything was a new experience, from supermarkets selling things you have only ever seen on tv, to snow high enough to make going anywhere an adventure. But the most important thing so far has been getting to meet the McMaster students. This exchange has already been an amazing opportunity to learn more about their diverse viewpoints and experiences regarding Global health. I am looking forward to the rest of the semester and the opportunities that no doubt lay ahead.” – Anna Ouwerkerk, Maastricht University
As students approach the Global Health Learning Symposium that will take place at the end of the Winter term, we are eager to further network and collaborate with students at partner universities in the Netherlands, India, Sudan, Norway, Colombia and Thailand, albeit virtually. We are looking forward to the fully immersive and educational symposium.