Durham University exchange student Tatiana Bruni flew from her home in the Netherlands to Perth on December 22 last year – just in time to experience her first summer Christmas.
“I am thrilled to be living very nearby the seaside, as I love swimming and walking on the beach,” she said.
Ms Bruni, who teaches Italian Language and Culture and Intercultural Communication at University College Utrecht, is the McCusker Centre for Citizenship’s second Matariki Network of Universities exchange student.
The 53-year old admitted that she initially did not consider applying for the exchange, because she believed it was only open to younger students.
“I called Durham International Office and asked if I would be too old to apply,” she said.
“I was told that global citizenship is not tied to an age, so I could apply without hesitations.
“I was quite excited, because working at the McCusker Centre would provide me with valuable insights in community service learning.”
During her three-month exchange, Ms Bruni will complete a 100-hour internship at the WA PTSD Foundation through the McCusker Centre for Citizenship.
“I will conduct a literature review on existing Australian research into post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said.
“Furthermore, I will collect local data and engage with clients and stakeholders to inform the development of the organisation’s website, as well as their database population.”
Ms Bruni will also assist Academic Coordinator Claire Dodd deliver the undergraduate summer unit Approaches to Wicked Problems in a student support role.
Through the Centre’s partnership with the WA Alliance to End Homelessness, the unit will have students learn about ways of addressing homelessness, contribute to a project with real community impact, and directly learn from people working in not-for-profit services and those who have personally experienced homelessness.
Ms Bruni said she was especially interested in exploring the Centre’s community service learning model (evidenced in its award-winning internship program) because it served all students across disciplines and programs.
“I think that it could serve as a model at Utrecht University,” she said.
“I am particularly interested in exploring three aspects: how to create and maintain long-term fruitful collaboration with societal institutions, how to link the academic element (the modules taught at the Centre) with the practical work in the communities by the interns, and how to ensure that the internships work is conducted in a participatory and ethical way so that all the people involved feel and get ownership of any outcome,” she said.
On a personal note, Ms Bruni said she was looking forward to new intercultural encounters while in Australia.
“As a teacher of Intercultural Communication, I have quite an extensive theoretical knowledge, but I haven’t really engaged with many people with a very different background from mine,’ she said.
“I hope to get the chance to meet many interesting and diverse people, and hear lots of stories.”