The second half of the visit by the Indonesian academics from UIN Raden Fatah Palembang and UIN Sumatera Utara, to look at the integration of research, teaching and community outreach, went well.
On Wednesday we visited the University of Newcastle Legal Centre, an innovative centrepiece of the Law School’s clinical program, followed by a visit to the beach (where we had fish and chips for lunch) and Blackbutt Reserve. You’ll see it was a tiring day if you look at the before and after photo’s on the bus!
On Thursday there were a number of presentations from the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE), some of the Family Action Centre community programs (Hunter Outreach Program, SNUG and Our Health Rules) and the University’s English Language Centre.
The day finished with a tour of the main University Library and an opportunity to meet some of Indonesian students study at the University of Newcastle.
On Friday morning they had the opportunity to do some research in the library and meet some academics and the men went to the local mosque before a BBQ lunch (with the addition of rice) and wrapping up.
We had some interesting discussions. I think some of them were trying to work out what motivates those of us who have no religion, to be caring, generous and attentive to the needs of others. For me it was important to spend time with a group of Muslims and to better understand moderate Islam. While, of course there are differences, we also have many similarities.
We had to be flexible and go with the flow. One time I was rescued by a fire alarm. We’d dropped in to the Uni Coop Bookshop so they could have a look at some Uni souvenirs a bit later than planned. I was very conscious that we were due to meet a senior academic in five minutes, but they clearly needed more time. Just then a fire alarm went off so we had to evacuate the building! We were due in a nearby building so we were able to get to our meeting on time and returned after the meeting to finish their shopping.
It was also great to work with Dee Brooks again, and to watch her work the crowd!
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