From 19th to 23rd July Varna University of Management has hosted a hybrid version of Blended mobility of young people. The activity involved young people from Bulgaria, the Republic of North Macedonia, Greece, Malta and Italy, who have explored the different aspects of Intercultural communication through various activities, experiments and a lot of reflection.
The group has explored how people demonstrate and develop their intercultural communication skills in everyday situations like ways of self-awareness and self-expression, food and traditions, leisure time activities and so on. Even though some of the participants joined the activity from a distance, the whole group managed to stay connected and freely discuss and express their thoughts and opinions.
The main objective of our project Building Intercultural Competences: Sharing Good Practices is to support young people and youth organisations. For this purpose we had planned different events for and with young people.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic came and we all had to cancel any face-to-face meetings. Back in the spring of 2020 we believed that soon the situation should get better. We thought we shall just wait for couple of months to make all activities happen. So, we postponed the events with couple of months… and than with couple of months more… and than we postponed again… From one hand, we believed that only in person, we can have successful events. From the other hand, some of us were a bit afraid to conduct activities online.
At some point however, in November, all partners agreed that we shall try to conduct at least the first piloting session online. We had several weeks of intensive preparation and planning. But in the end it turned out much better than we actually expected (if you are interested, check the publication about it).
So, based on the experience and the positive feedback from the participants, we decided to prepare the local debates online, too (as all countries, involved in the project were still in lock-down). Every partner had the freedom to chose the platforms and tools, for the local meetings. Some of the organisations used GoogleMeet and Microsoft Teams, as their target group (the students) use these platforms for their online learning. Other partners went for Zoom or Skype, as these are the usual means for communication they use anyway. For conducting the online activities and collecting feedback, we also had a variety (and different combinations) of tools, as Menti, Padlet, Jamboard and the good old GoogleForms. In the end, every partner shared their experience, taking into account the feedback from the participants, of course. As a result, we had a series of successful online local debates in Malta, Greece, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Italy and Portugal.
‘So, which are the best platforms/tools to conduct activities online?’ the reader might ask. Well, each tool has different advantages and areas of improvement. But we found out that the best one is the one you and your audience feels most comfortable with.
Just like with the intercultural communication – there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If one dares to try different approaches, ways of expressions and ideas, s/he can only gain more experience and open their horizons.
We wish you happy experimenting!
BTW, very soon we launching two interactive guides on building intercultural competences, so stay tuned and follow us.
School students from 3 classes attended the online event. The event started with a brief presentation about the mobility opportunities for young people in the framework of the Erasmus + programme and the European Solidarity Corps. Ex- and current ESC-volunteers have shared information about their projects and about the experience they have gained in the field of intercultural communication, thanks to their mobility.
Later on, all participants were encouraged to attended a discussion on the importance of intercultural competences, ways to develop them and methods to overcome intercultural shock.
The organisers would like to thank everyone for the active participation and for the meaningful discussion.
The event has mainly focused on aspects of the Intercultural communication, as perception of the “others”, stereotypes and mutual understanding. Adelaide Strada, an expert working in different NGOs in the developing countries for more than 10 years, made an interactive and engaging presentation on the topic, sharing her experience and lessons she learned. After her speech, the participants have also shared interesting stories they have experienced when travelling abroad.
On 15th February Sfera International has conducted the online workshop “Building intercultural competencies”.
The workshop started with an ice breaker, and then continued on to a presentation about the project BIC, the Erasmus + programme, continuing with covering the topics of Intercultural communication, an interactive activity on Cultural shock, continuing with presenting the phases of cultural shock and advises on how to overcome cultural shock. There was a fruitful discussion with all the participants, and we would like to thank everyone who joined our event! Hope to see you on our future events!
Many people dream to travel the world or to visit their dream country or city. Many young people are probably planning to apply to study abroad or to get a job in a large international company.
All these opportunities can bring an enriching and wonderful experience for everyone – to see new places, meet new people, new ideas, gain new knowledge, grow in every way. Unfortunately, people are not always prepared enough to take the best of these opportunities. Sometimes they experience a culture shock or just “can’t get along” with the others. Some people manage to overcome these difficulties, others – not really…
The event took place on 10th February on GoogleMeet and was mainly dedicated to young people who are planning training / internship / work abroad, but so far have not had the opportunity to develop their skills to communicate with other cultures. Two guest speakers have share their experiences and shared practical advice on how to more easily deal with culture shock and more quickly “find common ground” with people having a different cultural background.
The first one, Ventzislava Venkova has a three-year experience as a student abroad. Besides, she knows the process of experiencing and adaptation to a new culture very well from psychological point of view.
Nurhan Fehin has a rich intercultural experience, being part of many international projects, AIESEC alumni and has visited even Japan. Currently he works with international students from all over the world.
After the presentations of the guest lecturers, there was also a space for the participants to share their experiences and advises. What we have remembered for sure – if you go abroad, always double-check the meaning of the words the local teenagers teach you 🙂
On 28th January, our friends from Inter Alia have conducted a very cool local event, dedicated to a very important topic – the cultural shock. It always comes together with the intercultural experience, so knowing it and having the proper tools to overcome it, is very important.
The organisers have invited very interesting lecturers, having personal experience with this phenomena:
Dr. Joanna Simos, Associate Director, Arcadia University Athens and Drew Villierme- Lightfoot Study Abroad Program Manager, Arcadia University, USA
In the framework of the project we had planned to organise two piloting sessions, aiming to gather together young people and to discuss and test together techniques and approaches for building intercultural competences. We really wished to these to be held face-to-face, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to adjust.
So, as everyone else – we went online. The event took place on 11th December on Zoom platform. Young people from all countries involved in the project have joined us.
The session began with a brief introduction of the project, its purpose and foreseen activities, followed by an introduction of each participant. Besides the regular things (name, and location), Boyka (the moderator) invited them to share where do they feel really “at home”. We had a lot of interesting inputs and found out that for many of us the perception of “home” can be a place, we are not necessarily born and raised in. And some of us have several homes. Next, the participants were invited to share their thoughts on what intercultural communication mean to them – and we got a very beautiful wordcloud as a result 🙂
The next step of the event programme included a brief quiz, so each participants could check how familiar is with the perceptions and traditions in other cultures. It turned out that among the participants there were some experts, but still – we all have learned new for us facts (for instance – in which country 4 is an unlucky number and why)
We had a lot of fun during the First Piloting Session and received a very positive feedback from the participants, and we are really looking forward to the next events.
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