In mid-December 2022, the International Medical University (IMU) Nutrition and Dietetics Students’ Association (INDSA), together with staff and volunteers from the Division of Nutrition and Dietetics (N&D) had the privilege of hosting 26 nutrition students from Deakin University, Australia for a week-long study tour filled with a variety of activities. This is funded by the New Colombo Plan (NCP) which was secured in the form of a study tour to a pre-determined country for students to enhance their understanding of cross-cultural aspects of food, nutrition, and health.
As Malaysia is a multicultural country brimming with a diverse range in culture, food and nutrition, Deakin University chose to send their students to Malaysia. The INDSA and N&D volunteers who were the local ambassadors for this visit introduced the guests from Deakin University to Malaysia’s multi-cultural society and how this permeates into many aspects of our daily lives.
To fulfil the objectives, the Deakin nutrition study tour in partnership with the IMU consisted of hands-on activities and visits to nutrition-related organisations such as the Malaysia Ministry of Health’s Nutrition Division, Malaysian Palm Oil Board, as well as the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute to provide some insights on the role of these organisations.
A forum session was held between INDSA and the Deakin students, in which students had a fruitful discussion on food security, nutrition transition, and genetically modified organisms (GMO) food. Additionally, the Deakin students had fun activities which included tasting various Malaysian cuisines from local restaurants and night markets. With the guidance of our N&D faculty members, the Deakin students tried their hands at cooking a local favourite, Nasi Lemak.
|Phelia Harrison, Nutrition Student, Deakin University|
|IMU organised an insightful and interesting week of activities for Deakin nutrition students. We had access to the various nutrition related organisations in Malaysia as well as IMU N&D students and professors.
Over the course of a week, we were able to learn about studying nutrition and dietetics in Malaysia, nutrition policies and guidelines, cooking Malaysian dishes in IMU N&D lab, current ongoing research in Malaysia as well as local culture and health. We were able to create connections with fellow students outside of the university, ask questions of organisations that we would otherwise have been unable to access and experience Malaysian food.
A highlight for me was the Student Forum where IMU and Deakin students were encouraged to participate, share insights and knowledge, and learn from peers about food security, nutrition transition and GMO in Malaysia and Australia.
Overall, this was a well organised and insightful learning experience that has been beneficial for my nutrition studies, career aspirations and communication skills. I am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity
This study tour provided all participants with the opportunity to learn about the context of food, nutrition, and health from an international perspective. It was designed to include a range of activities to link students with policy makers, consumers, nutrition departments, educators, and food production companies in the host country, and to reflect on their own values and approaches in relation to food, nutrition and health.
One of the students, Erica Clarke from Deakin University has successfully secured the New Colombo Plan scholarship for an exchange credit arrangement with the Nutrition programme in IMU.
|Jyosheeka Selvaraju, INDSA (DN121)|
|We were able to understand possible areas for improvements and gaps related to the management of nutritional issues in Malaysia during the visits to nutritional organisations. Aside from that, we also managed to have a look at a part of Malaysia’s agriculture and its production processes, which enabled us to connect our classroom-learned nutrition knowledge with local food products.
From identifying the gaps and differences in cultures to having intellectual conversations with the Deakin students, I believe this study tour enhanced our personal and intellectual skills, broaden our experience as IMU Dietetics students, and motivated us to improve as future dietitians. On behalf of INSDA, I would like to thank IMU for this great opportunity
Aside from students, the faculty from both universities had fellowship sessions and exchanged ideas on their area of expertise for future collaborations in research and mobility either in Australia or Malaysia.
|IMU’s Partnership with Deakin University|
|Deakin University, Australia has been one of IMU’s Partner Universities since 2020 – one of the latest Partner Universities within the School of Health Sciences. Through this partnership, students in the Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Nutrition programme can opt to credit transfer to Deakin University after completing their fourth semester in IMU.|
Written by Jyosheeka Selvaraju