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School launches student exchange program with Australia Catholic University

MSW students interested in studying social work abroad now have an opportunity to do so.

The UNC School of Social Work has launched a student exchange program with Australia Catholic University (ACU). The initiative, which is organized through the School’s Field Education Program, offers the School the opportunity to spread its reach internationally and gives students a first-hand experience in learning more about other cultures and addressing global social issues, said Rebecca Brigham, the School’s associate dean for field education.

“For the last few years, we have had an increasing number of students who are interested in these kinds of international experiences, but this is the first time we have been successful in arranging for a formal partnership with another university,” Brigham explained. “We’re very excited about the development of this long-term partnership with Australia Catholic University.”

The exchange program is open to final-year MSW students who are interested in cross-cultural experiences and studying ethics and professionalism, diversity and difference, as well as assessment and interventions within an international setting, Brigham said.

“What makes this exchange so attractive to us is the opportunity for our students to learn more about Australia’s public and private health care system and how it compares to our own system of care,” Brigham said. “Students will have the opportunity to understand and compare diversity and difference in a cross-cultural context and also to develop self-awareness in working with individuals and communities from different perspectives.”     

Selected participants will be enrolled in a field course seminar and assigned to work with an agency as part of their field placement experience, Brigham said. The program grants UNC and ACU the ability to accept two students from the partner universities each year.

The collaboration, which was finalized this spring, culminated this month with the selection of Raul Zamora-Duprey as the first UNC student to participate in the exchange program. Zamora-Duprey left North Carolina for Sydney, Australia, on July 25, to begin his semester-long study. UNC plans to enroll two students from ACU in Fall 2020, Brigham said.

“Over the next academic year, we will be working with ACU faculty and North Carolina agencies to prepare for receiving Australian social work students,” she said. “We will also be working to expand the types of agencies where our students can be placed in Sydney.,”

Zamora-Duprey will be completing his field placement this semester with St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, where he will be working closely with older adults. He said he’s excited to learn more about the aging population and to study social work within a different context.  

“This opportunity is opening up possibilities that I can't even imagine right now,” he said. “Given my penchant for travel and for service, I know that this is the right path for me. I hope that I can help open the door for more UNC social work students to follow this same passion when it calls for them.”

For more information on the student exchange program, contact Rebecca Brigham: brigham@email.unc.edu

Date: 
07/24/2019