This is a new series of conversations focused on Diversity and Inclusion in Aquatics. I will be reaching out to professionals from various fields of aquatics, as well as community leaders, from across New Zealand and around the world.
In this conversation, I catch up with Tina van Duijn, researcher at Otago University in New Zealand, to discuss our experience as part of the Water Safe Waikato project, and the many lessons we learned related to diversity in aquatics.
Tina and I met while working as part of the Water Safe Waikato team at the University of Waikato, that also included Huy Vu and Bianca Nichol of the International Student Services Office (ISSO). The project was spearheaded by the ISSO, and was funded as part of the International Students Wellbeing Strategy under the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.
Water Safe Waikato focused on engaging with international students at the university to promote awareness and knowledge of water safety. It was initiated out of ongoing concern for the wellbeing of students, punctuated by the loss of an international student to drowning in 2017.
Over a period of approximately 15 months, our small team worked together to plan the project from the ground up and executed the project during 2019 academic year. Global Swim lead the water safety program design and delivery based on the Water Watchers program. A parallel research program was coordinated by Tina, looking at both the potential impact and effectiveness of the program, as well as more specific research related to water safety training techniques. The ISSO team members had the challenging task of promoting the program and coordinating student participation, as well as providing logistical support.
The result?: An incredible experience that not only showed positive impact on the students who participated, but on all of us who contributed to the project.
Global Swim and the International Student Services Office have continued our partnership into 2020 to support and promote water safety at the University of Waikato as well as others in our local diverse community.