Friday, March 23, 2007
Technology brings OU and African students together
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Students and faculty from OU's Department of Counseling were able to get up-close and personal with students and faculty at the University of Botswana. Through a video conference arranged by OU Counseling Chair Luellen Ramey and Jabulini Muchado from the University of Botswana, students were able to learn from each other during the transatlantic meeting, which is just the beginning.
Adjunct Professor of Counseling Phil O'Dwyer began the video conference with a lecture focused on the historical development and the current state of community mental health delivery in the United States. Participants from both countries were then able to ask questions and interact.
"In Botswana, counseling students are trained to work primarily in the schools through teaching guidance courses," Ramey said. "However, there is a need for counselors to work more closely with the general public. Botswana's needs for counseling services are great, especially due to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS in that country and the influx of immigrants from neighboring African countries. Currently much of the support available to the country's residents is through informal structures in the family and community."
Ramey said that through the video conference, the OU students were able to connect to their peers from half-way around the world and realized how similar they are.
"There are people on the other side of the planet learning the same things we are teaching our students," Ramey said. "They learn the same diagnostic tools, but they are learning to treat people within two very different cultures."
Ramey first became interested in this collaboration while visiting Botswana in October. She was able to meet with Muchado and set up the video conference that opened the door for future interaction between OU students and those from Botswana.
"This video conference laid the foundation for future collaborations between the two universities. There was an atmosphere of warmth and excitement between the two groups that can serve as a springboard for more of these rich inter-continental exchanges," Ramey said.
Chistopher Tidimane, a career counseling specialist from the University of Botswana, is currently in his second semester as a doctoral student in the Department of Counseling.
Professor Mercy Montsi from the University of Botswana will be sponsored by the Department of Counseling and the School of Education and Human Services to attend the American Counseling Association in Detroit followed by a visit to Oakland University the last week of March. A lecture will be announced within a few days.
For more information on OU's Counseling programs, visit the Department of Counseling Web site or call (248) 370-4179.