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Int'lFlex Course "Communities in (a) crisis" with Visiting Academic Ranganayaki Thangavelu

Visiting academic Ranganayaki Thangavelu reports on her stay in Potsdam and her findings from the Int'lFlex course, initiated by the Department of Social and Educational Sciences.

Int'lFlex course
Beyond Social Service
Social and Educational Sciences Department
© Hanne Dahlmann

Video interview with Ranganayaki Thangavelu

In the interview, Ranganayaki Thangavelu talks about herself and her professional career. She describes the process and impressions of arriving in Potsdam. What differences did she notice from her home institution? How did she feel about the teaching and cooperation at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam? What were the students' learning effects and reactions to the international insights the course offered? The Int'lFlex course was funded by the third-party project "FL2@Int'lFlex - Research-based Teaching and Learning in an International Context Project" to support the internationalisation of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam through cooperation with international partners.

  • Portraitbild von Gastwissenschaftlerin Ranganayaki Thangavelu
    © Ranganayaki Thangavelu

    We come from two different continents, but the practice of social work, the practice of community, appreciation and development is no different because we are all human beings.

    Ranganayaki Thangavelu
    Visiting academic from Singapore

Impressions from the Int'lFlex course

Résumé by Ranganayaki Thangavelu

We started by getting to know each other, not only me as a lecturer, but also the students themselves got to understand each others lives. It gave me a lot of awareness about what living and studying in Germany as a young person is like. What was really nice is that my class was the first one they were coming back to campus for after 1.5 years, so they were quite excited. I learned a lot from them about German life in the first couple of weeks.

At a personal level, the fact that I got to be here for several months and create content for this course was already in itself a benefit. A new ability that I have developed is bringing in my knowledge as a practitioner and communicating it. That is one big take away. It is very possible to create a new learning within the span of 13 weeks.

Another take away is how we can collaborate across the world. We come from two different continents, but the practice of social work, the practice of community, appreciation and development is no different because we are all human beings.

The third would be the cultural differences. We see the world with different eyes. As an Asian, I see the world with different eyes, and I am learning the European view of the world and life, and the political differences that we have. Bringing all of that together in the learning is amazing to me. Learning community or social work cannot happen in a vacuum. It happens in your everyday life. That is what I intended to do. So one of the take aways is: How can we expand the rule of community from an individual relating to our immediate network of family and friends to society as a whole, and understand how local community action ads up to a bigger whole?

I really hope to come back, but we will have to wait and see if there is an invitation to come back. I will be supervising some students on projects starting from April. I will also perhaps be developing a course on community to strengthen the current course. Currently I am doing some training on e-pedagogy, which will allow me to look into the assessments as well as the outcomes of this course in greater depth. This way I can make it tighter and be very clear about it being more of a student-centred learning. In terms of research, I haven't really thought about it that much. I would probably have to have some discussions with other faculty members. The other thing that came up was that several faculty member were really keen on the work that I am doing, and I was very keen on their work as well. So we had a couple of informal discussions to share our own experiences. What is amazing is that all of us come with the right space and the right intention so that the students can gain the most. Those were very enriching.

A message to my students:
Keep on being curious and observant. It's in observing people and being curious that we can actually learn and contribute. They have been a great bunch and they brought in a lot of learning. I think that learning will continue to grow as they develop into social workers, develop into helping professionals in society. So curiosity would be my key word for everyone.