Nowadays, schools and educational programs are welcoming a wide variety of people that come from very different cultural backgrounds. Teachers face a big challenge when it comes to helping their students in adjusting to a new cultural setting while also promoting an open minded environment that values and celebrates diversity.
The new edition of the course “Intercultural learning and cultural diversity in the classroom” took place in Bologna from 28/08/2022 to 03/09/2022. The participants came from all across Europe, with Zsuzsanna from Váci SZC Petzelt József Technikum és Szakképző Iskola in Hungary, two teachers coming from Spain, Raquel from IES Fuente Nueva and Pilar from Universidad Loyola Andalucía, Fe and Sunneva from Fellaskóli in Iceland, Georgios from GELDE Sapon in Greece and Tim, Thomas and Isabel, three teachers coming from the same German school Sekundarschule Horn - Bad Meinberg.
The course started with acknowledging the importance of reflecting on the meaning of words. The participant altogether tried to come up with a definition for the term “intercultural learning” and of what it means to them. The participants explored the differences between the meaning of intercultural learning on a literal level and on a broader point of view.
During the course we worked on the exploring the concept of identity as a first step to dig deeper into cultural diversity. By presenting their home countries, our participants thought about their own identity and the relation that it has with culture. The participants learnt through the use of visual metaphors that everyone’s identity is unique and made of multiple elements: some of them are superficial and easier to understand while others are more difficult to spot and are more deeply rooted in ourselves.
Participants were also invited to reflect on how difficult it can be to answer the question “Where are you from?” when you come from a diverse cultural background. The teachers were encouraged to reflect on which places in the world made them feel like locals instead of the country they were born and this exercise sparked an interesting conversation on cultural identity compared to nationality.
Next, participants engaged in a storytelling exercise about stereotypes. Altogether we discovered the meaning of the vicious cycle of stereotypes. We saw how stereotypes can be dangerous because they tend to become prejudices that later create discrimination.
The last topic we worked on was inclusion. First, participants were involved in simulation activities to acknowledge and discuss about the challenges of intercultural communication. The activities can help students questioning common assumptions while thinking about finding connections among different cultures. The teachers engaged in group activities that could also be replicated in their classroom in order to teach their students the importance of membership and empathy.
As part of the learning process and the (inter)cultural offer of the course, participants had the chance to meet two representatives of a local association in Bologna dealing with intercultural projects. They were thus given the chance to see Bologna from another perspective, making them even more eager and curious to put the knowledge gained in classroom into action while discovering the city and interacting with our locals.
Discover more about this course here
Welcome to the ELA Blog. Here you will find articles and photos of our courses and have a look at the topics addressed during the week in Bologna, Palermo and Tenerife. You will also have the chance to take a peek at our projects and check out what we have been up to.