One of the qualities of global citizenship is cross-cultural awareness and internationalisation at home initiatives offer opportunities for students to engage in inter/cross-cultural encounters and acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitude to become adaptive and open-minded global leaders who are aware of their surroundings. Making Internationalisation at Home initiatives is an excellent tool for international students at DUT to experience knowledge-based activities necessary for their integration process and out-of-classroom education.
The International Education and Partnerships Directorate (IEP) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), therefore, thrives on exposing international students to the side of the world that is different from theirs, encompassing both local and international worldviews through several programmes that the office hosts yearly, such as cultural assimilation lived experience (The Village Trip), events (Africa Day, World Refugee Day) and other social cohesion engagements where students engage in thought-provoking dialogues, etc.
The Impact of Internationalisation at Home Initiatives at DUT is therefore recognised when international students are seen rising to the occasion and beginning to showcase their leadership skills. The IEP therefore held an award ceremony to honour those who had been identified to possess leadership qualities in various categories listed as follows:
- International Student Diversity Leader.
- Best Integrated International/Exchange Student.
- Lived Experience (IaH) Champion.
- Intersectional Advocate.
- Spotlight Award.
- Most Authentic Persona Leadership.
- Most Courageous International/Exchange Student.
- The International/Exchange Student Humility Award.
The award ceremony was held on 7 November 2023, at the ML Sultan Campus, where students expressed their most profound gratitude for having received awards in their leadership categories.
Luca Rabanus, second semester exchange student from Germany said: “Being an international student has taught him to be humble and believe in the community spirit.” Not only was he awarded the Best Integrated Exchange student award alongside Oscar Plünnecke (who also displayed remarkable resilience and a positive attitude towards the IaH initiatives), Rabanus was also awarded the overall Internationalisation at Home Champion Award.
Rabanus further expressed both his sadness about leaving and gratitude for all he has learned through his new friends who are local students at DUT, i.e., Siphesihle Jili, who was also present at the ceremony and was awarded for his contribution.
Moddie Gono, the current president of the International Students Organisation (ISO) at DUT, reiterated that being an international student at DUT taught her to be selfless, engaging, and always seeking opportunities. The international students voted for Gono as the best international student leader.
All the other international students who were awarded and recognised on the day were Wivine Bahati (DRC), John Awaseb (Namibia), Ene Awodi (Nigeria), Cyril Ejidike (Nigeria), Sindisiwe Dewa (Zimbabwe), Pride Mukaka (Zimbabwe), Ruth Peter (Nigeria), Gauthier Ngobela (DRC), Fazira Kazembe (DRC), Alrasheed Mustafa (Sudan), and Chantell Jembere, who was awarded as The International Student Diversity Leader.
All the other exchange students who were awarded and recognised on the day were Archibald McGill (Australia), Finn Metz (Germany), Pascal Spägele (Germany), Emma Desfray (France), Ramona Kreß (Germany), Paul Schmidt (Germany), Fabian Mews (Germany) and Lucien Stoven (France), who also received two awards on the day: being recognised for the Most Authentic International Exchange Student Persona award and the Intersectional Advocate of the Year award.
Ms Mncube later highlighted the positive feedback that the office receives from students upon departure or when they arrive in their home countries and have had a chance to reflect on the impact of the IaH initiatives, where she quoted one of the exchange students from the 1st semester, Logan Gustave (France) where he wrote: “I am incredibly grateful for the enriching experiences my semester in South Africa provided me, particularly the unforgettable visit to the Zulu village of Philiswa Mncube. The intercultural exchange was a profound reminder of the power of human connection, transcending borders, and languages. We discovered common ground, celebrated differences, and learned from one another. Moments like these remind us of the beauty and strength of our global community.”
Fezire Korat (Germany) wrote: “I’ve had the unique opportunity to study abroad at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa. As my studies here slowly end, I reflect on an extremely adventurous time. This experience has allowed me to witness firsthand one of the most contrary countries in the world, with an abundance of culture, community, and beauty, as well as inequality and distress. Beyond my academic studies, this semester has been one of personal growth. I am grateful for the challenges I have encountered and how they’ve helped me expand my perspective and worldview. The different people I met and the friends I made shaped my time here. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity as part of my studies at HOMAG and the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg. #bestplacetogrow or as Philiswa Mncube taught me in isiZulu: ukhule uze ukhokhobe. Ngiyabonga -Thank you!”
The award ceremony included a press conference, where students could express their views during one-on-one interviews. The video display and other awards will be presented at the International Students’ Farewell on 17 November 2023.
“One of the DUT’s ENVISION2030 Key Performance Indicators under Stewardship is providing a uniquely DUT experience. The International Education and Partnerships Directorate ensures that this happens by providing opportunities for international students to be assimilated within the DUT community and outside the City of Durban where they get to interact with everyday people of South Africa. Fostering positive change for the parties involved, enabling them to view life from each other’s perspectives. When students find themselves in those intercultural encounters where differences may thrive, it is beautiful to witness that even though they would be expected to resort to pulling away, they instead seek interventions that focus more on similarities rather than differences,” said Philiswa Mncube, International Students Relations Officer and Lead Coordinator for IAH initiatives at DUT in the IEP office.
Pictured: International and exchange students at the award ceremony.
Photography: Khulasande Tshayile