vineri, 19 mai 2017

TC: „Development of Intercultural Sensitivity” - Limassol, Cipru

When we were in Cyprus we had the amazing opportunity to be surrounded by people from other 9 European countries: Albania, Germany, Malta, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus. By spending plenty of time together with the participants during the training sessions and during the breaks or hang-outs in the evening in the city of Limassol, we found out lots of things about the european values, specific national values and the most important, we managed to discover each countries cultures.

Cultural Awareness

This project is the place where we realized that even if we are different by nation, we all have similar values that we share in the European Union and besides the borders of our community. From equity between genders to respect for other religions or tolerance and peace, the topics that we discussed were relevant, catchy and important in raising the awareness of intercultural diversity among the participants.

The environment of learning was also a strong point, as we learned about intercultural sensitivity in a non-formal way, with interactive learning techniques such as role-plays, games, working in teams, going and exploring & interacting one with each other. In general terms, this may be called learning-by-doing, which surely was attractive and had developed the creative skills of the participants involved.


Our roommates were also from other countries, and by this we had the opportunity to make new friends and develop long-term international friendships. We also shared great moments together in the Intercultural evenings, when all the countries had the chance to present their countries’ culture, tradition and values. These moments have had me strongly involved, because every country had something new to show, making us wish to discover more and more about them.

Games

The games were very engaging and provided a superb illustration of the discussed topics. Two of them stood out to me the most: Murloks vs Yanks and Abigale and the Bridge.

Murloks vs Yanks

The participants are split into two groups. Each receives a set of instructions, unknown to the other group.
One group is the Murloks: peaceful, happy and inviting civilization. But they have a few peculiarities:
  • Murloks speak a very loud and gesture-filled language that only they can understand
  • Murloks cannot understand outsiders unless they put a finger in the speaker's ear
  • only the designated Murlok leader can speak and understand outsiders
  • to show hospitality, Murloks remove one shoe from their guests, upon entering entrance in their town
  • as a sign of appreciation, Murloks insist on placing a cookie in their guests mouth. Murloks get very offended when someone declines
  • Murloks believe in a flat hierarchical organization where everyone is equal. Murloks will tear individual gifts received as to not create any feelings of jealousy among their friends
  • when expecting guests, Murloks decorate their town as best they can and wear their pretties garments
The other group is the Yanks: conservative, defensive and kind civilization. They have some particularities as well:
  • Yanks have never left their hometown before
  • Yanks walk in rows, one behind another, with the one in the back putting their hands on the shoulders of the one in the front
  • in order to keep maintain a sense of safety, Yanks coordinate in singing a loud song at all times
  • to decrease sources of panic, Yanks travel blindfolded, except for the first one and last one in the row
  • to show their kindness, when visiting, each Yank prepares a gift for their host
Each group is left in a separate room to prepare: the Murloks to receive the Yanks and the Yanks to visit the Murloks.
The Murloks decorating their home-town in preparation for the Yanks visit
As you can imagine, chaos and hilarity quickly ensures. The Yanks coming in blindfolded, singing out of their lungs while the Murloks yell at them in a bogus language. Furthermore, the Murloks attempt to remove one shoe from each member in the moving row of Yanks, which have no clue as to what is going on. Gifts carefully prepared are being torn apart when received which leads to more misunderstanding. Finally, cookies are tucked into the singing Yanks' mouths while also having to comprehend why their guests keep trying to stick a finger in their ears.
It was a very fun game but apart from the amusement, a few lessons are sharply concluded afterwards. Even though both civilizations are peaceful and kind, none of their gestures were understood as they were intended. Yanks perceive their hosts as aggressive, labeling the attempts to remove shoes or gift cookies as an attack. Murloks feel like their attempt in decorating their town and their clothes was in vain, as their guests came blindfolded.
This is an intentionally extreme example, but the concepts illustrated are applicable in the real world as well. Misunderstanding cultural differences can cause many unpleasant situations, which none of the parties involved would have wanted.

Abigale and the Bridge

Each participant is given a sheet of paper with the following story. They are asked to rank the five characters in it from best to worst — referring to their ethical standing. Afterwards, participants are asked to discuss their ranking with the neighbor on the left and the neighbor on the right. In a couple of minutes they should come to an agreement for a common ranking.
We invite you to try to do this as well:
Abigale loves Tom who lives on the other side of the river. A flood has destroyed all bridges across the river, and has left only one boat afloat.
Abigale asks Sinbad, the owner of the boat, to bring her to the other side. Sinbad agrees, but insists that Abigale has to sleep with him in return.
Abigale does not know what to do and runs to her mother and asks her what she should do. Her mother tells Abigale that she does not want to interfere with Abigale’s own business.
In her desperation Abigale sleeps with Sinbad who, afterwards, brings her across the river. Abigale runs to Tom to happily embrace him and tell him everything that has happened. Tom pushes her away strongly and Abigale runs away.
Not far from Tom’s house, Abigale meets John, Tom’s best friend. She tells everything that has happened to her as well. John hits Tom for what he has done to Abigale and walks away with her.
The story is carefully crafted to paint each character in a moral shade of grey. It is intentionally vague in some descriptions to invite interpretation. The artificial constraint of ranking the characters from one to five forces you to exaggerate your decisions.
As one might expect, this exercises spurred a lot of debate both among mini-groups and between groups when discussing their common ranking. Were it not for a multitude of exercises for getting to know each-other done previously, the situation would have surely escalated in an emotionally loaded fight. Thankfully, arguments, even opposing ones, were presented in a rational and mindful manner.
The game highlighted the difference in cultural values, as reflected in the participant's ranking and explanations. It made us understand that differences are not only superficial, instead going as deep as the fundamental roles perceived for a mother, a lover or a friend.

Overall, the selection of games was an excellent one. They were both enjoyable and informative. We feel that they achieved their purpose in illustrating discussed notions all while providing a pleasant activity.

Conclusion


We feel that we learned a lot and had fun while doing it. The training course opened our eyes to cultural differences and made us appreciate variety and other points of view. The city was very nice and we were lucky to find good weather. The participants and organizers provided a very pleasant and fruitful environment.

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