Case study

Creating global communities: East London to Langa

29 Mar 2017

The women and men of the University of East London’s (UEL) Hockey Club enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity last year to travel to South Africa to coach school children in the township of Langa, near Cape Town.

The UEL students ran youth hockey camps for up to 100 youngsters a day, offering equipment and support. The trip culminated in a tournament where the children received jerseys donated by hockey clubs in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Belgium.

It was a life-changing experience, said the trip’s coordinator, physiotherapy undergraduate Ciara Gormley. And it was made possible because of Going Global, a UEL scheme that provides bursaries for students to travel abroad for short study or research trips.

Ciara said, “It was a huge learning curve for me, and my trip undoubtedly enhanced my personal development and future employability. It was an absolute privilege to travel as ambassadors for the University.”

Going Global was founded in 2010 with an eye towards providing UEL’s diverse population of students, many of whom are older and have families and jobs, with an opportunity to enhance their studies with a short-term foreign travel experience.

For many, it is the first time they have travelled abroad. Most UEL students are eligible to apply, and trips are organised entirely by students. 

Students can go just about anywhere and do just about anything. In 2015-2016, students honed their photography skills in Finland, researched textile businesses in Bangladesh and practised sports therapy in Ohio. Altogether, 109 students travelled to 26 countries last year thanks to a Going Global bursary.

For Ciara, the trip allowed her to both better herself and make a difference in the lives of South African children.

She says, “There’s no comparison with the experience you get from going a trip like this. Academic work is great, but the personal development you get from going somewhere like South Africa is life-changing.”