RGU students India-bound as part of new health project

Twelve students from Robert Gordon University (RGU) have set off to spend four weeks delivering health, nutrition and sports sessions to young people in India.

RGU students with their colleagues from Manipal University, India.Backed by one of Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, Dr Katherine Grainger CBE, RGU GO: India is linked to the award-winning Aberdeen Youth Games (AYG) which promotes physical activity, health and wellbeing to young people in Aberdeen.

The students, who are studying a mix of subjects including Applied Sport and Exercise Science, Nutrition, PR and Media, Event Management, Communication Design and Journalism, travelled to Manipal, in South-Western India on Sunday, August 21.

They will spend four weeks in India, with three weeks based at Manipal University, which has existing links with RGU’s Faculty of Health and Social Care, and one week in Mumbai.

During their time in India the students will work with students from Manipal University to design, promote and deliver a community health, nutrition and sport project for young people in the Manipal community which address local health issues. 

At the end of their trip the students will deliver a presentation at a reception hosted by The The British Council in Mumbai where they will share their experiences with special guests including RGU alumni.

Third year event management student, Kirstin Bell (21), said: "I'm so excited to get to India - we've all worked so hard in the last eight months and I can't wait to see it all come together. I'm looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing a new culture. I hope to build on my existing knowledge and skills and make an impact in the schools in which we visit."

Jamie Laird (19), who is about to start the third year of his sports and exercise science degree, added: “It makes me hugely excited to be part of a project that is both a first for RGU and that is being supported by the British Council. I am looking forward to implementing our project and I'll be hugely focused on that, as well as looking to create new personal relations with the students and the community in Manipal.

“One of my other aims for the project is to increase my knowledge of global sports and how they are practiced or competed in but primarily I want RGU GO: India to leave a lasting legacy. I want us to create a brilliant festival of sport that is made an annual celebration with RGU and Manipal University.

“If I was to go back in a year’s time and see that another festival was being planned, and that any clubs or community groups we helped set up were still active and growing, then I would know we've left a lasting legacy. That is the real aim.”

Giulia Bottaro (21), a third year journalism student, said: “I'm thankful for this precious experience that RGU and the British Council are giving us - a chance to grow personally and professionally by doing something for people. I can't wait to meet the community of Manipal and get an insight of life in India.

“As a journalist, I will love to meet Indians of all ages and listen to their stories. It's an incredible opportunity to learn about a new culture and to work on different skills.

“I'm expecting to come back to Scotland holding a little piece of India inside, feeling closer to such a different country, with new friends, and hoping to have left something behind. I will be more confident about my professional skills and passionate about new ones. Above all, I will encourage other students to join the next RGU GO:, which has been so enriching this far and promises to be even more so.”

RGU Applied Sport and Exercise Science lecturer Bryan McCann, from the School of Health Sciences, has worked with Event Management lecturer Rachael Ironside from Aberdeen Business School and a team of colleagues from across the university to develop and deliver the pilot project.

He said: “This is a great opportunity for the students to expand their knowledge, have new experiences, and make a difference in local communities. The group is very excited to set off and the students have already put in a huge amount of hard work in terms of preparing for the trip and organising fundraising events to support the project.

“It will be an invaluable trip for the students, not only in terms of life experience, but also for the skills that they will take away with them at the end of the project – it will enhance their employability and aid their transferable skills. We also hope they will make lasting friendships with students from Manipal University.”

The RGU GO: India project team secured £19,197 in funding from the Scottish Government's Outward Mobility Fund (OMF), with the RGU Foundation committing a further £1,000.

The university has also contributed £35,276 as in-kind support for the project which is also receiving logistical support from the British Council as part of their Generation UK-India programme which aims to support 25,000 young people and professionals from the UK to undertake placements in India by 2020.

In addition, the students were required to raise £6,600 prior to their departure which will be used to hire equipment and facilities, and run the activities.

Those working on the programme at RGU also include: Aberdeen Business School Media and Communication lecturers Izzy Crawford and Dave Philips, Nutrition and Dietetics lecturer Susan Lennie from RGU’s School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, Cameron Craddock from Gray’s School of Art, and RGU’s International Office.

RGU's Streetsport initiative, led by Development Officer Mark Williams, also supported the students’ training and fundraising efforts before they made the trip.

Release by Jenny Rush
Communications Officer | Faculty of Design and Technology
Press and Media Enquiries