January 16, 2015, by International students

What I learned from the Nottingham Advantage Award programme

Indonesian student Meredita with a class of schoolchildren

I had heard about the Nottingham Advantage Award programme before I came to the UK through a University newsletter. Since I had never joined in with such a programme before, I got interested in taking part. During Welcome Week, I registered for the Community Engagement Programme for French Sharing Culture. This programme is jointly run by the Business School and aims to work with local primary schools that are interested in learning more about French culture and need support in teaching their children some basic French language.

Why did I join this programme? My main goal was to make new friends; I specifically chose this program because I thought I could learn new culture, both French and British, from native people, get an opportunity to meet with the local people and to share my knowledge about French culture to children.

I had to attend several preparatory training sessions before I went to the primary school for the real sharing session. I was a little bit surprised that they welcomed us in such a professional way; they even observed us at the last session. They taught us about team building, working in a eam, teaching approach, what we should and should not do during the sharing session, and several tips to handle difficult situations.

I still remember the first training session was about team building where I met my teammates for the first time and we were asked to build a tower from newspaper. All of them are French. Though they were very nice to me, I knew they were wondering “Why has this Indonesian girl joined this group? She even cannot speak French.” Although we discussed how we would build the tower at the beginning, they spoke French during the tower building and I did not understand at all. I felt inferior and start to feel anxious, but tried to do what I can do and be helpful. We successfully built the highest tower and won. This winning moment made me think that despite the fact that I cannot speak French I should contribute in my own differentway. So, each week I tried to contribute more in preparing the material.

In the first session, all of us were very nervous. It was difficult to control the class. Asking them to focus on doing the activity also made me feel dizzy. Some of the children just made fun with their friends. One hour felt very long. At the end of the session, I felt relieved yet I thought “Oh My God, there are still 3 sessions to go and I have to handle those naughty kids.”

The next sessions were getting better and unlike the first one, it seemed very fast. The students were more excited; more involved and asked a lot of questions. Their questions made us overwhelmed yet happy. I was able to recognise which groups of children were always active, silent, and some who always looked for an opportunity to make fun of us an in each session I felt more comfortable and confident to speak in front of the class and helped them during the activity.

For last session we brought crepes – French traditional food, like a pancake but thinner. The children looked very pleased but a bit sad knowing that it was their last session. Well, actually I felt the same way too. In contrary with the first session, at that time I felt the fourth session was too short and hoped we had 6 or 8 sessions with the students.

Meredita Susanty, an international student from Indonesia studying Msc Management in Information Technology at The University of Nottingham.

Find out more about Nottingham Advantage Award.

Posted in Cultural integrationNottingham Advantage Award