China visit with trades education focus

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Cultural exchange and the desire to forge global connections around innovative education in trades was the kaupapa at the heart of a five-day trip to China last month for three WITT kaimahi.

School director Daniel Fuemana travelled with Executive Director Olivia Hall and Architectural tutor Faylin Dallas to Huanggang – a city of nearly six million in Hubei Provence. The trio went there to build on connections with Huanggang Polytechnic College.

WITT signed an agreement with the institute in 2021. However, plans to develop an educational exchange programme were stalled due to the pandemic. The relationship was re-kindled last October when a 12-strong teaching delegation from the college’s architecture school visited WITT to find out about the content and delivery of the New Zealand Diploma in Architectural Technology.

Last month’s trip to China was an opportunity to formalise the 2021 agreement as well as explore options for joint teaching of the Architectural Technology programme.

Daniel was impressed by what he saw at the college, which has provided vocational education training for more than 70 years. Huanggang Polytechnic College has more than 10,000 students, and 600 teaching staff – including 200 professors.

He cited the sophisticated manufacturing laboratories and state-of-the-art technology, including robotics to cut prefabricated steel beams using software developed by students, and the opportunities for students to gain work experience with construction projects on their campus.

A shared sense of the importance of manaakitanga underpinned the visit, he says. The WITT delegation also had the chance to visit ancient Buddhist temples in the area, as well as museums built on the campus.

Academic tutor Faylin Dallas remained in Huanggang for a further two weeks to teach architecture. 

Plans are underway for a group of engineering and architectural students from Huanggang Polytechnic College to study English language classes at WITT later this year. Art and design, and culinary programmes could be on the agenda in the future. And WITT tutors and students may get the chance to travel to Huanggang next year to teach and learn about software applications in architectural technology and construction, Daniel hopes.

“The academics we met at Huanggang are keen to learn from others and they’re willing to engage with the global community,” he says.

Caption: Daniel Fuemana (6th from left) and Olivia Hall and Faylin Dallas (8th and 9th from left) with staff at Huanggang Polytechnic College.

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