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Teaching young women from war-torn countries and hearing about their struggles puts a different perspective on higher education, a former Otago student says.
Asian University for Women assistant professor for humanities Tiffany Cone returned to visit the University of Otago in May, and is doing a comparative study on the experiences of international students at Otago and at her institution in Bangladesh.
For about three years she has been based at the Asian University for Women, which takes students from 15 different countries including Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Palestine, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and China. Dr Cone said her research would compare students’ narratives at the two universities, looking at their "past, present and future" and how their experiences had changed their goals. The overall goals of her students seemed to be quite different from New Zealand students.
"They’ve worked very hard to get into this institute, 98 % if them are on scholarships."
Once the students left they had to make their way in the world. One of her former students was planning to travel from Bangladesh to Egypt, in order to hopefully gain passage to America. Some students had enrolled in university to escape arranged marriages, and, even with their qualifications, they had to deal with prejudice against women in their home countries.
Dr Cone, who delivered a talk on migrant and refugee students’ experiences, at the Dunedin Public Library on Thursday, will return to Bangladesh later this month.