On collaboration, communication, and the common good

While exploring the area around Hotel St. Josef, I became really curious about two things. There was a trolley at the end of the block to the left of the hotel that was going up and down the hill, and a flight of stairs to the right. I probably sounded like a broken record because I was constantly wondering aloud: What is up there? I made a mental note to make sure that I go up those stairs at some point before we leave Zurich.

And I got my wish! I did get to climb up those stairs – because it turned out to be the way to Universitat Zurich, our first stop for GPP! The climb took my breath away – literally and figuratively – because a) I am so bad at climbing up flights of stairs, and b) the architecture of the University of Zurich, and the view at the top, was amazing.

The past three days were filled with inspiring and thought-provoking conversations. It was also interesting to see the similarities and differences across educational landscapes… from education as I know it as student, instructor, and administrator in the Philippines; as a student at Virginia Tech in the United States; and a visitor at the Universität Zurich (UZH) and Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich, Universität Basel (UniBasel) and Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst (HFGK) in Basel; and Université de Strasbourg (UniStras) in Strasbourg, France. It will sound ironic, but I was surprised to not be surprised about the method of instruction used in Swiss universities – I did not quite expect to hear so many similarities between my own experience and the way education was conducted, especially in ETH. I could not help but wonder about what it was that they were doing right.

Our discourse revolved around communication among professors and instructors, and the positive impact that may bring to student learning; about the advantages of collaboration; what it meant to be a future professor in today’s world; and what role we can play in advocating for the public good. I cannot believe it has only been three days; I have seen so many new things, been disrupted by realizations that challenged my current reality and opened my eyes to a whole new world, and made new friends.

All these wonderful memories come at a price, though; it has been a hectic and physically demanding few days – if anything, my only regret about this trip is not being more physically fit and prepared for all the walking that we are doing. One thing is sure, though; my FitBit is working hard!

Tomorrow we visit Milan. I wonder: what surprises are waiting for me there? There is only one way to find out….

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