We have just had a brilliant experience involving some of our international (and home) students in a video to mark the centenary of Dylan Thomas (a big thing here in Swansea). The library has a collection of translations of his work and we had the idea to get students to read one poem (the famous "Do not go gentle into that good night") in their own languages. Some amazing students came on board to direct it and star in it and the end results was really rather special. We were lucky enough to be able to premier it at the Dylan Unchained conference which took place last week on campus.
If I have to walk anywhere with an international student, I always ask them where they are from. If it's not weird, I'll ask them about their libraries back home. Always learn something interesting and they seem to like talking about it. My best teaching experiences have all been with international students. The Brazilians on the day after That World Cup Match, the English Learners who came with their tutor, the 3rd year Business dissertation class who LOVED all the resources we had (but why didn't we tell them about them sooner?), the excitement buzz when I told a group of Chinese students that they filmed Doctor Who in our library and showed them our collection of "Friends" DVDs...
My subject area has a massive international percentage so I have been focussing on how best to teach with that in mind. The most useful things I've found to date:
- If you read one thing on international students...great article on "Library Shock" (PDF) and what we can do about it.
- SCONUL's "Library Services for International Students" (PDF) is the most comprehensive bit of advice aimed at the overall library service.
- The HEA's "Engaging home and international students: a guide for new lecturers" (PDF) has good teaching ideas.
- Thank goodness for blogs. Love Gemma Bayliss' 10 reflections / tips and Exeter Uni Business Library report from a BLA event were extremely useful. More of these needed (and less of this big whinge of an article. How many international students have "demanded" "exclusive services" from your library? Indeed. Not helpful.)
Ideas for the future?
- Have a "Global Champion" who takes a special interest in the international student experience and reminds us of their distinct needs when discussing service developments as well as being proactive in ideas to embrace our international community.
- Find out our biggest cohorts and explore their particular education systems and culture in more detail.
- Should we offer specific cohorts their own library introductory sessions? Not sure about this one.