Ms Melissa Zaccagnini1, Ms Sharon Twyford1
1University Of Wollongong, , Australia
The Global Communicators Program (GCP) is a community of University of Wollongong students who are passionate about being global citizens. This centralised model is facilitated by senior students and provides connections among students who are interested in exploring diverse cultures, transiting to/ from a new country and developing global networks. By endeavoring to foster an environment of mutual gain for both domestic and international students, it is an exceptional non – remedial environment in which International and non- English speaking background students can practice their English conversation skills. Each GCP session involves peer-facilitated conversation around topics that allow cultural sharing by students – capitalising on the diverse backgrounds represented in the UOW community. All activities have been designed by the student leaders since the commencement of the program. GCP also aims to complement students’ formal studies, by enhancing understanding of other cultures and experiences in cross-cultural communication. Since 2012, the program has delivered over 10, 000 contact hours to more than 1,500 students representing 63 countries.
In this workshop, the presenters will offer a brief snapshot of the history and growth of GCP at UOW. They will then facilitate an interactive GCP session, in order to practically demonstrate some of the successful strategies and activities that have been designed by the GCP Facilitator teams. Finally, the presenters will offer insights into how to manage an institution wide peer based program to support cultural learning and connection among students from diverse cultures.
Sharon Twyford is the Coordinator of the Global Communicators Program team at the University of Wollongong
Melissa Zaccagnini provides leadership for peer learning services, within Learning, Teaching & Curriculum at the University of Wollongong. This team includes 130 peer leaders and engages over 4000 students per year across 8 campuses. With over 10 years’ of experience in the design, implementation, management and evaluation of peer led programs (academic, cultural, social and wellbeing), Melissa has great enthusiasm for the value of peer programs in higher education, especially advocating for the strategic inclusion of peer to peer opportunities to complement and enhance traditional teaching and learning environments and support student transition and success.
As Head of the National Centre for PASS and an International Certified Trainer, Melissa has had the privilege of delivering accredited PASS Supervisor training to hundreds of colleagues from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Fiji, Singapore and China. The international success of the PASS model has inspired Melissa to identify key transferable elements which can be utilised to continuously evolve and operationalise peer based offerings to meet institutional and student needs. Melissa enjoys working collaboratively with colleagues to support innovation and sharing of best practice around peer programs, both at UOW and across the Australasia region/ Internationally.