Scotland Student Learning Conference - Fall 2021

Cameron McKay Student Services Officer


November 25, 2021

This semester, the Arcadia Edinburgh Center was very proud to host our first ever Student Learning Conference, with students from across our 3 center-based courses: the travel writing course taught by Dr Joan Haig; independent studies and the internship program course supervised by Dr Cameron McKay. This conference provided an engaging array of papers and a wonderful display of learning emerging from our students' study abroad experiences this semester. 

Our travel writing students were the first to present and provided unique insights into their experiences exploring Scotland. From Jaime Del Rio's budding friendship with a Kurdish sandwich shop owner to Matthew Roarty retracing the steps of a Chinese travel writer visiting Edinburgh in the 1940s, our students encompassed travel’s ability to find commonalities amongst even the most diverse groups of people. 

Courtney Pokallus then spoke on how her photography has evolved in parallel to Edinburgh’s ever-changing appearance and mood. In a similar vein Magdalena Zak illustrated the benefits of solitude during travelling, and how this can enhance our understanding of ourselves and our new surroundings. Petra Jouflas’ then described her planned trip to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall, a sort of personal pilgrimage given her interest in history and the classics. 

We then had a short break for Thanksgiving themed snacks of turkey sandwiches and vegetable and pesto wraps. Joanne Lee discussed the importance of pinnacle, and how using perspective as a narrative device can promote a deeper understanding of the writer. The last of our travel students, James Herring, showed that Scottish cuisine is not all deep fried Mars Bars and Irn Bru, but instead used food to tell the story of Edinburgh and her people. 

Our independent research student Madyson Bostig was next up, providing an informative talk on Leith’s plague epidemic of 1645. Madyson made the argument that although Scotland was one of the last European countries to be infected during the epidemic, how the Scots sought to mitigate the effects of the plague was more advanced than many other nations.

Finally, it was the turn of our interns who were discussing the projects they have been working on with their organisations this semester. Catelyn Ballard and Kareem Al Afghani gave powerful talks on the issues faced by immigrants and refugees in Scotland, such as housing, education, and the language barrier. Kennedy Bayer was next and spoke about her time with the Ethical Journalism Network. Kennedy is also researching immigrants, and is considering whether press reporting on immigration issues adheres to the Five Principles of Ethical Journalism. Kimberly Hickey and Marjorie McCardell have spent the semester working for the Mental Health Foundation, with their respective talks discussing mental health stigma in Scotland and the effect of the pandemic on mental health, timely discussions I am sure you will agree. 

We just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of the students who presented, and to congratulate them on the high quality of their papers. We look forward to hosting a student conference again in Spring 2022, so watch this space!