Benefits of learning and working in a multicultural environment
Poland/ October 2015
There are many nationalities here, and various ethnicities, different languages and ideologies. When one learns in a multicultural environment, our train of thought is broadened than usual. We are exposed to a rich variety of values and cultures, absorbing all those different tendencies and being able to apply them to any situation in our lives. These interpersonal skills are “a key” to succeed in a today´s modern multicultural society.
We come from Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Greece, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Italy, Portugal and Spain. We talk in 12 different languages, and we work and communicate in English language.
At least a 60% of these people speak “four languages”, around a 20% speak “three languages”, 10% “five languages” and other 10% “two languages”.
The most common languages are English and surprisingly Spanish (more than 6 people understand my language), but almost everyone has a background in German or French. – Despite that people from Portugal, Spain and Italia can understand themselves without need of language!
We all have very different educational backgrounds: international relations, pedagogy, psychology, business management, engineering …etc; but the most important here is not a bachelor or a master, it´s the knowledge that you can offer and interchange with the other, all these naked skills that we are willing to offer and get. Maybe, this is the first difference between our “teamwork dynamic” and the way that labor market works in our routine. We are more focus on learning processes, – What can I learn from you? What can I offer? Here, we are not worried about the red tape or bureaucracy, neither about “wrong answers” or deadlines.
Learning in a multicultural environment fosters the flexibility to change; knowing that there are a wider range of beliefs and lifestyles in this world make us realize that we can be more independent while “choosing our path”. This flexibility and an open attitude to be adaptable to “the change”, are important characteristics of the “Phenomenon of Globalization” – the increased interconnectedness of all peoples on the face of the earth.
Globalization is always a topic on the table, the impact of the economical, political, technological and also cultural and social changes that we are experimenting nowadays. We discuss about the both sides of globalization with freedom and assertiveness. The positive side regards globalization as a phenomenon which can boost productivity and living standards across different countries, creating a “globally integrated economy”. The gloomy side emphasizes the enormous social risk and the increased risk of financial market stability (euro). It is an incredible experience to discuss about globalization with people from 11 different countries.
We are used to other different nationalities, so it´s not easy to judge aesthetic characteristics of other alternative cultures. We all believe in the unity of the society and in a liberal attitude towards our approach to life. Multicultural education seeks to achieve greater social harmony in a society and world currently beset by intercultural conflict. We called to this harmony, democracy.
Benefits of learning and working in open spaces
Working in different learning spaces (rooms, living rooms, “Wold Cafés”) provide multiple advantages. To be around the Tatra Mountains is a pleasure, it makes us to use the instructional time in a creative and productive way. The beauty of the landscape is wrapping us all day long, and we feel motivated to create beauty too. The mountains bring us more energy and a greater enjoyment during our work.
We spend 24 hours together in the same building. There is a schedule which leads the activities, goals and breaks. We have leisure spaces as Jacuzzi, sauna, poolroom etc sharing a desk in our private rooms with at least one colleague. Sometimes we surprise ourselves talking about our projects, school, education or personal experiences at mid night. Of course, there is not a TV, and sometimes wiffi zone fails.
Open spaces create a very interesting and collaborative atmosphere between peers. It let us to know much more about each other, seeing different people strengths in varied learning contexts. It creates also a strong ownership of learning, fostering the responsibility regarding our role and duties. Interactive contexts decrease isolation in people, creating a “sharing attitude” where collective expertise results greatly effective.
This experience is a good example about how open spaces and collaborative teaching can be best utilized. How we, as trainers or educators, can maximize opportunities in our context, trying to reduce the challenges in order to create the best learning experience.
Thanks to Fundacja Kopalnia Inicjatyw – Polish National Agency for this experience.
Dedicated to my lovely team 🙂
(Michał Pietrzok, Ivo Danieli, Karolina Gaw, Viviana Specioso, Cátia Benevides, João Ornelas, Hami Bozdemir, Maja Hanic, Sinziana Babu, Edita Zalupaité, Mara Arion, Wojciech Ciesielkiewicz, Dóra Záhorszki, Agata Janicka, Patrycja Widawska, Agnieszka Zawislak, Jelena Glavaš, Nikola Niepsuj, Sigitas Ramanauskas, Selman Temiz, David Santos, Żaneta Błażyca, Diana Grgat, Pablo, Paula González)