Fish-marking cross-visit in Thailand

By Herman M. Lagon

The recent international cross-visit of the Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST) College of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (CFAS) team to Thailand was truly transformative. It showcased the immense potential of global collaboration in elevating educational standards—a lesson relevant to any institution aiming for “more.”

Our journey included 12 faculty and administrators from ISUFST and two executives from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). For seven days this early June, 2024, we engaged with the Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT), the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC-TD), Kasetsart University (two campuses), and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), emphasizing cross-institutional learning valuable to many, if not all schools.

At RMUTT, the warm welcome and rich technical and collegial discussions highlighted the importance of transformative relationships over transactional ones. The visit to SEAFDEC-TD was equally enlightening, with their advanced fishery technologies and commitment to workforce development. The collaboration underscored the tangible benefits of shared knowledge and technology, illustrating how crucial the enhancement of curricula and research is through international partnerships.

Meanwhile, Kasetsart University’s model of integrating research with practical application—clearly palpable in its two campuses—provided a benchmark for ISUFST that aims for academic excellence. Similarly, AIT’s international focus and multidisciplinary, multi-cultural approach emphasized the value of sustainable development and innovative research.

Reflecting on the cross-visit, the importance of building strong partnerships to drive innovation and excellence became clear. This experience, courtesy of the strong support from the ISUFST President, Dr. Nordy Siason, Jr., and the Board of Regents, reinforced that global engagement is not just about accreditation but striving for international standards.

The camaraderie among CFAS faculty during the visit demonstrated the power of unity and collaboration in implementing new strategies. This sense of renewed teamwork will significantly benefit the institution by fostering a collaborative and innovative environment.

Upon returning, we plan to operationalize the knowledge gained through proposals for new research initiatives, improved laboratory practices, and innovative teaching methods. We also aim to establish formal partnerships through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) to facilitate exchanges, joint research, and collaborative initiatives.

The weeklong visit to Thailand set a new benchmark for international collaboration in fisheries education. With the knowledge and experiences gained, ISUFST is poised to enhance its flagship program in fisheries, fostering a new era of excellence and innovation—an inspiration for ISUFST’s other colleges to also pursue international collaborations actively and purposively.

The international cross-visit to Thailand was more than an educational tour; it was a transformative journey that opened new horizons for ISUFST. With renewed vision and strengthened partnerships, the university is set to lead fisheries and marine sciences education in the country and beyond.

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Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.

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