17 April 2007

International Students Officer Training

Last week, I spent an AWESOME weekend with other student officers at Royal Holloway for training. The location was beautiful! You should know that Royal Holloway is a campus-based university, that is it has its own compound and is like a little village. It reminded me a bit of the CERN in Geneva (it actually has a partnership with them for research, as far as I have heard) and I rightly predicted that I would see a golf cabbie to get from A to Z. They have their own little forest with lake and everything and you can actually hear the birds chirping and smell the humid air of the plants (people must have thought I was mental because I couldn't stop myself saying "Do you hear this?" and "Do you smell this?" all the time while we were on our campus tour the first day). And the best thing: Utter peace and quiet at night. No cars. No buses. No drunken people shouting around. I loved it!

The training was targeted at officers from Southeast England Universities and I met some great people that contributed greatly to the success of the weekend! Interestingly, there were also a few UK natives present which I find is a particularly great thing. Everyone had loads of fun!

The very well organised workshop itself was funded by the Prime Minister's Initiative for International Education and the programme included Accomodation, Academic Welfare, Pastoral Needs (Father Vlad for Pope! Look it up on facebook) and if UK is meeting the demands of trends in UK Higher Education (HE) concerning International Students, among other things.

In general, it also provided us with the opportunity to exchange our experiences from our respective universities. Something everyone agrees on is that being an ISO is a part-time position not a sabbatical position, that is you usually don't get paid just like other voluntary part-time officers (environment, women etc.). However, the scope of your responsibilites is much wider than that. At other unis, they at least have their own desk in a room where they can hold office hours in. At SOAS, the Union doesn't have the facilities but I will try to find a way around that.

Repeating what I have learned at the workshop would result in an over-dimensional blog post. Maybe some other time. For now, I have to write my damn essays.

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