NP-UN Western Bureau.
A Grant MacEwan University (GMU) nursing course that allows students to study for two-and-a-half weeks in Ukraine opens new perspectives, said two students who participated in the program last year.
“This course has changed me academically and personally, reconnecting me to my roots, and generated lifelong friends whom I will again be seeing this summer with family, making it my third trip to Ukraine,” said Jessica Katerenchuk, a third-year nursing student, at the Kyiv Konnection banquet, sponsored by the Ukrainian Foundation for College Education (UFCE), and held at St. John’s Cultural Centre in Edmonton, May 2.
“Through these connections with global health care professionals, experiencing their changing and advancing health care system, has changed my nursing perspective into a population and global health outlook. I now understand the importance of interconnections among nations within health care, and recognize the potential of carrying these various strengths through these bonds within our own Canadian nursing care and my own future nursing practice,” she added.
“Planetary health is an evolutionary concept in the field of global health,” echoed Charday Motley, who joined her both on the trip, last May, and in making the banquet presentation.
“With the world we live in today, what each and every one of us do impacts the billions of people i that live on this planet. We are all interconnected. This course has taught me much more than any class lecture could on global health and the social determinants of health. l did not understand how these concepts could affect not only someone’s health, but their way of life. The reason for that is growing up on a farm in a small remote area the only way of life you truly see is yours. I am beyond thankful that I was granted this learning opportunity to expand my horizons,” she added.
The course, Global Health Perspectives (HLST 400) takes place at two Ukrainian universities, the State Medical University in Ternopil (TSMU) and the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), School of Language and Culture in Lviv. In this course, students connect with policy makers, health care workers, students, faculty and health care agencies from Ukraine, gaining a deeper understanding of current and future global health issues and opportunities and their role as a global citizen and a healthcare professional.
The first week of the course entailed an intensive Ukrainian language course at the UCU.
Katerenchuk said the Ukraine Language prep course “exponentially increased my writing and speaking abilities. Despite both my grandparent’s fluency in Ukraine, I found it very difficult to form my mouth around the words and memorize the differences in the Ukraine letters and pronunciations. However, the practiced conversations with the skillful teachers and student tutors increasing my skill level to begin a small conversation with my dido (grandfather) when I arrived home the following week.”
The course was extremely difficult for Motley who was born with expressive aphasia. and has attended countless speech therapy session from the age of four. However, “our instructor at the Ukrainian Catholic University was extremely patient with my learning progress, even though we had a ton to cover. By the end of the week l was formulating short sentences.”
Both students were very impressed with the dedication of their Ukrainian counterparts.
“These students demonstrated a drive for learning, and bettering their education despite the limited resources and technology provided to them. This drive for more increased my gratitude for my education, and their drive to better their own health care system and individual knowledge base structured my now current goal to complete my Masters in research and global health in developing countries such as Ukraine,” noted Katerenchuk.
“This course was extremely valuable to myself and my fellow peers too. One of the biggest learning experiences we gained was through informal communication with the Ukrainian students. We had countless discussions on topics such as health-care, politics, gender and sexual expression, and education,” said Motley.
Along with their studies, the students also partook of several cultural courses including varenyky-making and embroidery.
In introducing the two students, Dr. Judee Onyskiw, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Nursing, provided some background about the partnership between MacEwan and Ternopil State Medical University that was initiated by Dr. Roman Petryshyn and Yuri Konkin. The two institutions share the delivery of the Global Health Perspectives course in Ternopil each spring, and learn from and with each other at The Great Teachers Seminar held in Banff and recently in Lviv.
Speaking about the “Global Health Perspectives” course, she noted that it utilizes a variety of teaching and learning strategies such as interactive lectures, field clinics, team-based learning, and presentations of student assignments. It also includes a range of activities designed to connect students with health care workers, faculty, and health care agencies.
“For example, students were taken to the TSMU Anatomical Museum, Simulation Centre, as well as the Perinatal Centre, Pediatric Polyclinic, Mental Health Centre in Ternopil, and to the Malyutka orphanage,” she said.
Bringing greetings from the Government of Ukraine, Edmonton Consul-General Oleksandr Danyleiko noted that while Ukraine has one of the world’s highest literacy rates, the quality of education remains a huge problem.
“How many of that almost 700 Ukrainian universities are ranked within top 100 in the world – no one, top – 500 – none.
“Let’s compare these figures to Canada. There are 96 Universities in the country. within world’s Top 100 – 5 Canadian universities. Top 500 – 24, top 1000 – 34. As one says – feel the difference.
“Ukrainian alumni are not competitive on the international market, many of them are even not competitive on the internal market,” he said, explaining that’s why the Government of Ukraine has made educational reform a priority item.
“The Law of Ukraine ‘On Education’ was adopted in 2017 and launched the development of special legislation for improving general secondary education and changes in higher education system. Implementation of the New Ukrainian School concept has started with primary education, and will continue until 2029 with successive levels of secondary education.
“The current education reform is not just introducing new methods in the Ukrainian school. This is the creation of an entirely new educational environment for children and youth,” he said.
“Tremendous work is ahead of us. But we cannot be successful in implementing these vital reforms without the assistance from our international partners and Ukrainian community abroad. We appreciate very much the strong support provided by Ukrainian community of Edmonton and Alberta and, in particular, very practical and useful assistance of Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre with the support of Ukrainian Foundation for College Education,” added Danyleiko.
In her greetings, Myrna Khan, Vice President of University Relations at MacEwan emphasized the benefits of GMU’s partnership with UFCE, noting it provides opportunities for students, faculty and staff to reach out into the world.
“And several very excited groups of students and faculty are poised to do just that. In a matter of days, classes of MacEwan nursing and sociology students will make their way to Ukraine for weeks of learning that will help shape their education and their worldview.
“In June, MacEwan’s United Nations Club will travel to Ukraine to meet in person with Ukrainian students who they have been training by videoconference since March. They’ll be working together over the next year, meeting up for National Model United Nations conferences in Germany and ultimately in New York in 2020.
“And in August, students from several MacEwan programs will take part in a community-service learning course, journeying to Ukraine to volunteer at a summer camp for orphaned children,” she noted.
“These experiences change our students forever. They help them see where they fit in the world. They allow them to dream of ways they can create and contribute to vibrant communities – at home and abroad,” added Ms. Khan.
Bringing greetings from the City of Edmonton Ward 9 Councillor Tim Cartmell noted that such programs “not only help to build a better future for these Ukrainian municipalities, but they also encourage cross-cultural learning, which elevates the work we can do in our roles at the City of Edmonton.”
“By promoting international learning opportunities for local Foundation for College education students, the Ukrainian and MacEwan University are helping the next generation of leaders learn and grow,” he added.