History has shown that sport has the power to unite, so it felt a fitting theme for this year’s Summer School. Students from ACU member universities came together in the UK, just 100 miles north of where the Commonwealth Games was taking place in Birmingham.
Held at a different member university each year, the ACU Summer School is a forum for connection, collaboration, discussion and education. Participating students had been through a competitive application process, where they were asked to outline their enthusiasm for the programme, with priority given to those who had not previously travelled outside of their region.
This year’s hosts, Leeds Trinity University (LTU), welcomed 30 students from 14 Commonwealth countries from 28 July to 2 August. Participants enjoyed a packed programme of activities focused on ‘Sport and regeneration: driving sustainability, community and wellbeing’.
Students heard fascinating talks from leading academics, advocates and business people. They formed new cross-Commonwealth friendships, developed their skills through group project work related to sport and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and got a taste of UK culture.
The sport wasn’t confined to classrooms either, with students taking part in activities for all abilities throughout the week, including rounders, tennis, wellbeing walks and more. Students experienced life in the UK county of Yorkshire, with trips to the cities of Leeds and York organised by LTU.
Having been introduced to some key themes and ideas in sport and development, students undertook small group projects. Each team was given four days to develop an innovative idea for a sports-related initiative, designed to address one of the Sustainable Development Goals in a particular community. Amid strong competition, the winning team were, fittingly, “Second to none” (below). They impressed the judges with their project on which focused on sport and social issues in Namibia.
Participants ended the week with a celebratory drinks reception and dinner at the impressive Wheeler Hall in Leeds. Attended by prominent local figures, students shared their experiences from a memorable and thought-provoking week, along with their contact details, before departing for their home countries the following day.
Professor Charles Egbu, Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Trinity University, said: “I am both proud and honoured that Leeds Trinity University was selected to host the ACU’s annual Summer School, an opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic work happening in our local area of Leeds, and also internationally.
“There is no better medium than education to transform lives, promote social justice and maybe - just maybe - change the world for the better. What comes after the week is up to the students, but my aspiration was that this Summer School would change their lives and that would ripple into a positive outcome for us all.”
JooYu Feng, who’s studying a master’s degree in Communication and Media Studies from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said: “It was a great opportunity to meet new friends, learn about different cultures, and collaborate with people from around the world on a project. I had a blast!