A team of UNE Exercise and Sports Science/Clinical Exercise Physiology students recently benefited from the unique opportunity to travel to the tropical atolls of the Maldives as a part of their industry placement experience.
The initiative, a first within the Exercise and Sports Science discipline, allowed 12 third and fourth year placement students and two supervisors to travel to the Maldivian island of Hithadhoo. Students worked within the local community to provide adult learn-to-swim lessons, run a daily sports-camp for school children, plan and instruct group-exercise and strength and conditioning programs, and provide practical workshops for local teachers on first-aid basics and the progression of motor skills. While the equatorial climate was a far cry from a cold Armidale winter, early morning bike rides to the floating ocean-pool for swimming coaching and hot afternoons keeping pace with the local children saw students quickly acclimatised and enjoying the challenge of planning and implementing the different exercise sessions. A quick break under a palm tree and a sip on a local coconut became a popular between-session choice!
Participating in the UNE Maldives placement, which was supported by Antipodeans, UNE International and made possible through funding received under the New Colombo Plan, allowed students to broaden their understanding of the many factors that influence exercise participation in remote communities and put into practice their skills and knowledge in planning and delivering exercise sessions. Beyond the academic gains, however, this special experience allowed students to immerse themselves in the local Hithadhoo community and culture, work collaboratively to achieve goals and overcome challenges, and gain a lasting, global perspective that will no doubt benefit future academic, professional and personal pursuits.
Dr Kath Shorter
Exercise and Sports Lecturer in the School of Science & Technology