9 May 2017

Learning outside of the classroom

Recently a few of our students travelled to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, as part of their Service Learning in Indigenous Community (SLIC) coursework. This new service learning program is one of several across New South Wales and the Northern Territory that seeks to provide innovative learning and teaching outside the classroom, whilst tackling real-world challenges faced in these rural communities.

Service Learning in Indigenous Community April 2017

Business students collaborated with other students from various faculties to help develop an implementation plan for a shared decisions and benefits model that will serve the region in the foreseeable future. Here is what they've got to say:

Tell us about your experience in Kakadu?

"Kakadu was amazing. We did more than I imagined I could do within my Commerce degree. Within an interdisciplinary team, we learnt about the culture, way of life and history of the Mirarr clan, often also working on our project as a collective bunch. Highlights at Kakadu for me were definitely the interactions we had with the community - whether that’d be playing ultimate frisbee or soccer with the kids and dancing along at their school dance or being taken on a tour by the traditional owners. There was no doubt about it. I fell in love with the community and didn’t want to leave by the end of it." - Lisa K

"For a while, I had always wanted to visit Kakadu National Park. When the opportunity came up, I knew I couldn't turn it down. And I'm glad I didn't. Being able to visit the region and also gain first-hand experience by visiting the local townships, getting to know the local Indigenous community and also learning about the history of their land was quite amazing. It was such an eye-opening experience which has certainly enriched my learning at the University." - Vince

"When we arrived at the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), it was quite overwhelming and challenging at first as we were to plan the implementation of a shared decision making model that will benefit the Aboriginal communities as well as other key stakeholders. During the 8 days of the trip, we were given the opportunity to meet a couple who identify themselves as the Mirarr people - the Traditional Owners of the region. They spoke and enlightened us with their deep connection to their land and their way of life; through hunting, art and so much more. These were all such valuable experiences that cannot be described in words." - Lisa T

How did you find Service Learning compared to learning out of the traditional classroom?

"Service learning is different on a number of levels. It provided me with the opportunity to go out on Country and engage with traditional land owners on a one-on-one basis which was highly invaluable. The ability to go to Kakadu and apply theoretical knowledge learnt from class to help solve real-life issues pressing that region is an experience you don't get in a traditional unit of study. It’s the sort of experience that challenges you to think critically and work together to ensure that you’re not just meeting your own objectives but that you are able to deliver on the expectations of the community." - Vince

"Service Learning in Indigenous Community (SLIC) has allowed us to apply our knowledge learnt at university into a more practical sense. It really triggers your problem solving skills and challenges you as the project you're tackling will directly impact upon the Aboriginal community. Moreover, being able to experience and explore Kakadu was a great opportunity and the people we have met there were extremely down-to-earth." - Lisa T 

"For someone who loved excursions and history in high school, this unit combined just that with my business side of things. For one, normal classrooms, subject to online readings, lectures and tutorials, don’t allow first-hand interaction with communities and people. When ‘on-Country,’ we were able to go explore what Kakadu had to offer and its amazing past through the traditional owners of the land. Secondly, normal classroom units provide no opportunity for us to really apply what we know in the context of helping a whole community create a sustainable way of life. We were part of something greater than just marks." - Lisa K

Want to get involved?

You must have an elective Commerce unit available to apply for this program. Interested students who are enrolled in a Business School degree must check their eligibility before applying. Send an Expression of Interest to business.placements@sydney.edu.au including name, SID and degree enrolled in and include ‘SLIC’ in the email title. Learn more here.

Contributed by:
Vince Lam and Lisa Tu, current Bachelor of Commerce students and Lisa Kha, current Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student at the University of Sydney Business School.

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