A group of T-Level students from Somerset were singing the Blues as well as gaining valuable new knowledge and skills during a two-week Turing Scheme placement in Mississippi.
Visits to BB King and Elvis Presley memorials were among the cultural experiences learners from Bridgwater & Taunton College enjoyed alongside study and work sessions during a two-week trip to the deep south of the United States.
The group of 14 nursing, construction and IT students were visiting long-time partner institution, Hinds Community College, which has six campuses across the region including a dedicated nursing and allied health centre.
During the visit, supported by a £49,500 Turing Scheme grant, the students took part in a mixture of classes at Hinds, including maths and music, as well as visiting local industry settings.
The construction and digital IT learners visited different departments of the construction industry in Mississippi, while the health care students visited a hospital and a tele-health provision.
In addition, the students and staff visited four main cities in the state; Jackson, Gulfport, Pearl and Memphis, where they experienced a variety of cultural activities, such as visiting the BB King museum and going on a swamp tour.
More independent and confident
Millie, an 18-year-old T-Level nursing student, said: “I know I will carry with me many of the things I have learnt in the future, in particular the things I have learnt about myself.
“I know now that I can be a more confident person and to have more faith in myself and my abilities. I can take that with me throughout my personal and professional life.
“I had the most amazing time whilst on the trip. It gave me so many opportunities to see things I would never have otherwise seen. It helped me to grow as a person and, for me, that was the most important part.”
Chloe, aged 16 and also studying nursing, said: “Participating in the Turing scheme has allowed me to meet so many new people and learn about the history of America and the impact it has on people but also allowed me to grow in myself and become more independent and confident in approaching people and asking questions.
“The knowledge I have learned in America will help me to provide and give patients and family and friends the best care available.”
Jon Harding, International and Education Projects Manager at the college, said: “Some of these students are on support funding on their courses and there were probably five or six who had never had a passport, hadn’t travelled out of Somerset and it was their first time on a plane.
“That impact for us was huge. We are in an area that, demographically, has a high level of families with low incomes and it was a big win for us that we could integrate students that probably wouldn’t have undertaken this, or similar trips, if the Turing Scheme funding wasn’t there. They wouldn’t have been able to afford to go.
“The week was intense, with industry placements and going into lessons. It was a 7.30am start and back to the hotel at 9.00pm often – so we certainly kept the students busy.
“One weekend we were in New Orleans the other we were in Memphis seeing the civil rights museum and seeing where Martin Luther King was shot – giving them a historical and cultural knowledge and awareness.
“It was interesting to see the dynamics of the students change throughout the experience. Prior to going, for example there were eight nurses, one IT student and the rest were construction, so some of them knew each other and some didn’t.
“It was interesting to me to watch them change and grow within two weeks from people that were very quiet that suddenly weren’t quiet anymore and were really coming out of their shells. It was just amazing to see really.”
Visit our dedicated webpage to find out more about FE and VET funding opportunities with the Turing Scheme.