Dr Jade Verbeek and Dr Danita van Heerden, senior lecturers in the Department of Marketing Management,embarked on a significant scholarly visit to the Catholic University of Valencia (UCV) in Spain during July 2023. The visit formed part of the Erasmus+ Funding Programme between UCV and UP, under the Staff Mobility for Training initiative.
The Erasmus+ Funding Programme allows lecturers and students to gain exposure to current best practices employed in different contexts in terms of resources, student numbers, and teaching models. The programme promotes professional development through exposure to an international learning environment and opportunities for cultural exchange. It is also the perfect opportunity to strengthen relationships with an international partner university, thereby contributing to the University of Pretoria’s drive toward internationalisation. In addition to Drs Verbeek and Van Heerden, two other colleagues from UP’s Faculty of Education, as well as an academic from Odesa I.I. Mechnikov National University took part in this Staff Mobility Programme.
During their visit, Drs Verbeek, and Van Heerden engaged in a series of productive discussions with UCV faculty members and staff, including Prof Andreea Apetrei and Prof Clara Gieure – international academic coordinators and teachers of business administration, as well as Mario Segura – academic marketing coordinator. The scholars' diverse backgrounds brought fresh perspectives to ongoing academic conversations within the university. Through these interactions, they not only shared their expertise, but also gained valuable insights from the unique academic environment of UCV.
From left to right: Prof Oksana Zinchenko, Kedibone Ncobe, Motlalepula Sebotsana, Dr Jade Verbeek, Dr Danita van Heerden, Elisa Cisneros Reig.
This scholarly exchange went beyond the confines of individual disciplines, fostering an interdisciplinary approach that is crucial to addressing complex research challenges. The visit provided a unique opportunity for the exchange of ideas and knowledge, enriching the academic landscape on both sides. This cross-border intellectual engagement exemplifies the global nature of modern research and underlines the importance of international collaboration in pushing the boundaries of knowledge.
On the last day of their visit to UCV, Drs Verbeek and Van Heerden had the exciting opportunity to visit the Virtual Hospital and the Sports Medicine and High-Performance Centre at the Santa Clara Campus. They were shown how simulation operations are executed on dummy patients, and took a tour through the entire facility. Associate Professor Alejandro Alvarez Llanas led the tour of the medical campus and provided insight into the daily operations at the medical campus.
From left to right: Dr Danita van Heerden, Prof Oksana Zinchenko, Motlalepula Sebotsana, Prof Alejandro Alvarez Lianas, Dr Jade Verbeek, and Kedibone Ncobe.
However, it was not all work. Drs Verbeek and Van Heerden also had the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Valencia. They visited the Oceanographic – which is the fourth largest aquarium in the world, took a walk on the promenade of Malvarossa beach, enjoyed an authentic Valencian dish – paella, and watched a flamenco dance show at Cafe del Duende.
Dr Van Heerden said: “It was an eye-opening experience to see how other universities are managed and marketed. Although UCV is a much smaller private university than UP, there are always things that we can learn from each other. I’m looking forward to collaborating on research projects with the new network we built in Valencia.”
Dr Verbeek commented: “This experience was invaluable and provided ample opportunities to network and foster collaborative projects in both teaching and research, with international faculty and staff. I learned a lot, not only from an academic perspective, but from Spain’s rich and diverse culture too.” She is looking forward to collaborative projects in the future with the network they have established at UCV during their visit.
From left to right: Dr Danita van Heerden, Beatriz Manrique, Dr Jade Verbeek.
As Drs Verbeek and Van Heerden returned to their home institution, they carried with them not only the memories of a fruitful cultural and academic exchange, but also a roadmap for future collaborative endeavours with their newly established networks at the Catholic University of Valencia.
They would like to thank the International Relations team at UCV, Elisa Cisneros Reig and Beatriz Manrique, and at UP Itumeleng Njoro, for coordinating and making this opportunity possible.