By Bruno Mascitelli
The tour involved 14 meetings across 5 countries in 6 cities. There were 17 enrolled students ranging from 18 years old to 76. The students came from across the university including engineering, social sciences, design, and business. The tour began in Prague, then went on to Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Luxembourg and finally Frankfurt. The meetings included 6 meetings with the European Union (Commission, Council, Parliament, Courts, Bank and Auditors). This involved every single institution of the European Union. The other meetings were primarily Australian Embassies (in Paris, Berlin and Brussels), Consulates (Prague) and Australian Trade Commission (Frankfurt). We also visited the OECD based in Paris and met the Italian Ambassador to the OECD.
The group was a very close-knit one and they all got on with each other really well. There was a contrast of experience and age and this allowed for mentoring and passing on experience. Each student was responsible for a meeting, which involved representing Swinburne, introducing the group to the organisation/speaker and closing the meeting with a thank you and gift to the speaker. This was a winning formula. I was supported by Swinburne Abroad staff, Diana Gonzalez, who did a magnificent job, especially as I was required to be at a Jean Monnet conference for 2 days.
The tour was administratively well supported by Alastair De Rozario from Swinburne Abroad as well as by the travel agent (Leo Adams) who I discovered myself as our standard travel agents didn’t support the tour. Global Study turned out to be an ideal travel agent and certainly provided ongoing support throughout.
The assessment of the tour involved students using the meetings for their data collection for their final report. Also included in the assessment was pre-departure research and presentations (worth 25%), an on tour short test (25%) and the final report worth 50% (which will be submitted on 15 February 2018). Most speakers made their presentations available and the Australian representatives provided excellent presentations aware that their audience was Australia.
From the evaluation of the tour which students completed on the last day of the tour there was an overall appreciation of the tour and that it was a lifelong learning experience. Students indicated their preferred meeting, city, hotel and other feedback relevant to the ongoing improvement of the tour.
All students completed the tour safe and sound. I was impressed with the performance and maturity of the group and their conduct and I am sure the academic results will also be testimony to this.