Richard’s introductory note: I have been working with Elena for the last decade or more on various research and curriculum collaborations, and various LANTERN alumni (Khwan and Fitri) have participated in conferences organised by Elena in her home university in cordoba, Spain.
I am honoured to be invited by Richard to participate in this Doctoral Community blog.
I work for the English Department at the University of Cordoba (UCO) in the south of Spain. I am also the Director of the Eramus Mundus Joint Master Degree entitled Play, Education, Toys and Languages (PETaL EMJMD) (https://web.em-petal.eu). I have been in charge of the International Relationships of the Faculty of Education for 8.5 years, which equipped my academic background with a broad understanding of how (and how much) international programmes can benefit Education students’ and teachers’ professional perspectives.
When I first started in this Faculty, I thought there were some inconsistencies in the Teacher Studies programme: in particular, the future teachers of my region (we mainly recruit students from Cordoba – only 9% students come from other regions or abroad) tend to participate in large numbers in social engagement projects (e.g. looking after senior citizens, those with disabilities …) but no attention was paid to this in their programme. Given that I was the person responsible for International Affairs, I started designing (and then planning, financing, etc.) a programme which addressed such social engagement as linked also to internationalisation. I did this because I think such activities are important for all these involved in society, especially those responsible for the socialisation of the next generations, i.e. especially teachers.
So, that’s how everything started. Now, after 14 years, I can say my instincts were confirmed. Students are nowadays (after many years of international mobility) more used to doing part of their Education programme abroad; Faculty teachers understand much better why mobility is important for students’ academic and professional background; and me, personally, feel quite satisfied that I was in the right moment at the right place to be able to contribute to something which, for me, was important.
Moreover, I am nowadays the Director of an exciting and prestigious Master Degree, funded and endorsed by the European Commission: PETaL EMJMD. These EU Masters Programmes select students from the international arena. They are offered scholarships to do MAs like the PETaL EMJMD which is coordinated by the University of Córdoba. Students do their 4 semester-programme in, at least, 3 institutions: UCO, Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon (Portugal) and Marmara University (Istanbul – Turkey). Then, students can choose where in the world (among many of the institutions with which PETaL has an agreement) can do their Master Thesis. PETaL is proud to count with the most prestigious Visiting Scholars in the world, who offer interesting plenaries and workshops on some of the key topics of the programme (e.g. Prof. Fay and Prof. Byram for Intercultural Education, Prof. García for Intercultural Education, and Prof. Roopnarine for Early Childhood Education).
The main goal of PETaL, then, is to train the best international Early Childhood Education future teachers so that they are able to educate future generations on two main areas (i.e. intercultural and bilingual education) through one of the most powerful tools: play and toys.
Please, visit PETaL EMJMD website (see above) and feel free to contact me if you have any question or suggestion (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will be happy to answer to your email J .