Erasmus+ International Staff Mobility Programme Ignites Intercultural Exchanges and Global Collaboration
The Center for Modern Languages (CML) Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) recently hosted a stimulating week of international collaboration under the esteemed Erasmus+ International Staff Mobility Programme funding. The mobility programme is funded under the framework of Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility (ICM) KA107 Project. At UMP, the Center for International Relations (CIR) is responsible for coordinating with potential higher education institutions from Erasmus+ Programme Countries in applying for the ICM grant. UMP has signed a few inter-institutional agreements worldwide for the ICM KA107 project.
Earlier in October 2022, Associate Professor Dr.. Nik Aloesnita Nik Mohd Alwi, an English language and communication lecturer in the CML, was awarded Erasmus+ ICM funding to engage with the academics and students at Bolu Abant İzzet Baysal University (BAİBU), Türkiye. The opportunity has enhanced her knowledge and skills while broadening her perspectives on intercultural collaboration. Additionally, the exchange programme has enabled Dr. Nik to seek avenues to strengthen institutional cooperation in teaching and research and to incorporate global experiences into the learning and teaching at UMP. This has further demonstrated the commitment of UMP to uphold the value of inclusivity as promoted by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
UMP had the pleasure of welcoming Associate Professor Dr. Sedat Akayoğlu from the Department of Foreign Language Education, BAİBU, Türkiye, from 8 to 12 May 2023. Similarly, a week visit by Dr. Sedat, funded by Erasmus+ ICM was packed with various academic engagements, fostering fruitful interactions among various parties. As a gesture of warm Malaysian hospitality, CIR and Dr. Abdullah Adnan, the CML Internationalisation Unit Coordinator welcomed Dr. Sedat at UMP Paya Besar Campus. In an effort to ensure that his experience went beyond the confines of the campus, CIR took him for a visit to several spots of tourist attractions in Kuantan, namely the enchanting Batik Village at Chengal Lempong, the picturesque Teluk Chempedak beach, the vibrant Kuantan Street Art scene, the majestic 188 Tower, and the serene Serambi Teruntum. The tour ended with a delightful welcoming dinner at Ana Ikan Bakar Tanjung Lumpur where an array of delectable seafood and local delicacies were served.
The knowledge-sharing journey embarked as Dr. Sedat engaged with UMP engineering undergraduates enrolled in the English language and communication classes. His lectures focused on persuasive speech and public speaking, providing students with invaluable insights and allowing them to establish a deeper understanding of what is required in the global labour market and society at large. Consequently, the students would be more prepared to become professionals and global citizens capable of operating in inclusive yet changing environment worldwide.
Malaysia is proud of its Malay cultural legacy in the east coast states of peninsular which are Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan and the states hold enough to reward a couple of days for sightseeing. An exciting excursion around Kuala Terengganu town — a two-hour drive away from Kuantan — witnessed fun and exciting moments experienced by Dr. Sedat as he immersed himself in the local culture. Dr. Adnan accompanied the visit to the iconic landmarks such as the main market called Pasar Payang where batik, songket and traditional handcrafts and local desserts can be found at reasonable prices, the Kuala Terengganu Draw Bridge, the breathtaking Masjid Kristal, and Pulau Ketam, where traditional wooden ships are crafted by skilled local shipbuilders. Being a devoted fan of Türkiye FC Besiktas, Dr. Sedat’s spirits soared when he had the opportunity to visit Terengganu FC home ground, the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium. He relished exploring the stadium, entering the players’ room, and even stepping foot on the hallowed pitch. This remarkable experience was shared with fellow FC Besiktas supporters back home, further solidifying the bond between two distinct football cultures.
The exchange programme definitely witnessed a flurry of activities for Dr. Sedat, as he participated as a panel in a webinar on Language Learning and Teaching co-organised between CML UMP and Malaysian Associations of Applied Linguistics (MAAL), an affiliate of the Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée (AILA). The webinar theme, “Teacher Professionalism towards Quality Education”, attracted face-to-face and online audiences. The seminar concluded with the belief that professionalism is inclusive of consistency in achieving high standards in performing and completing tasks at work, both visibly and behind the scenes.
Immediately following the webinar, Dr. Sedat embraced the vibrant atmosphere of the Aidilfitri celebration with the staff and students of CML. Displaying cultural respect and a willingness to immerse himself in the occasion, he elegantly donned a blue batik shirt, symbolising unity and global kinship. During this joyous event, a group of mobility students from Germany to UMP who are the descendants of Turkish people, engaged in heartfelt conversations with Dr. Sedat in their shared Turkish language. It was wonderful to observe the connection between them tied in seconds.
Dr. Sedat was in the limelight in a captivating hands-on seminar on “Authentic Materials in Teaching and Assessment: Implications for Language Instructors and Learners”.
The Pekan Education office fully supported this initiative as it was aimed at enhancing teaching methodologies and language instruction techniques, particularly using updated technologies, including Edpuzzle, Elicit and ChatGPT. More than 100 participants including the CML staff, tertiary institutions academics around Kuantan and school teachers in Pekan attended the seminar. The seminar’s takeaways offered the participants practical tools and valuable insights to enhance their teaching practices.
With the successful conclusion of the Erasmus+ International Staff Mobility Programme, Dr. Sedat expressed his gratitude and immense satisfaction with the enriching experiences and knowledge gained during his stay at UMP. Grateful for the warm Malaysian hospitality extended to him and the remarkable encounters he had with the UMP community, he remarked, “I will return to Türkiye with an abundance of knowledge and cherished memories.” Dr. Sedat embarked on a 24-hour journey back home to Bolu, where he hurriedly participated in the Turkish presidential election on the historical Sunday, 14 May 2023, eager to exercise his civic duty and contribute to his home country.
Overall, the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility (ICM) KA107 Project at UMP has catalysed cultural exchange, academic enrichment, and fostering international collaborations. Such initiatives reflect the commitment by UMP to nurturing global perspectives and creating a vibrant learning environment that transcends borders and celebrates inclusivity.
By: Dr Abdullah Adnan (Internationalisation Unit Coordinator, Centre for Modern Languages UMP), Associate Professor Dr. Nik Aloesnita Nik Mohd Alwi (Dean, Centre for Modern Languages) and Associate Professor Dr-Ing. Mohd Azmir Mohd Azhari (Director, Centre for International Relations UMP)