By Vibhooti Maldhari, Volunteer from Rajkot

“The winter Academy on Intercultural Competence was held in Bremen, Germany from 15th to 26th Jan 2018. There were total 30 participants participating in the academy.

I had signed up for the theory group, because I had a fair amount of practical knowledge in Intercultural settings, be it from having done an exchange year to Italy during my high school, being a part of Youth Volunteer Forum in Argentina, or going for a community service program to Dominican Republic for 3 months.

I wanted to learn more about the theoretical aspects of the things that I experienced. Be it cultural differences, breaking prejudice and stereotypes, or theories on ethics, moral and honor and how they differ in different cultural settings.

We mainly had theory sessions for the first five days with Professor Ulrich Kühnen, who taught cultural psychology at the Jacobs University, Bremen, where the Winter Academy was held. Theoretical aspects of concepts like intercultural competence, Intercultural communication, ethics and morals, concept of honor and dignity, different learning styles with respect to different cultures, Power distance and other such topics were discussed.

It was indeed enriching and something that added to the already basic knowledge of these concepts.

It was an interesting group and there was a lot to learn and know through classroom discussions as well as discussions outside classroom as many of the participants were much elder to me and had many stories and experiences to share by the virtue of them being professionals in their field for years and having experienced things.

The participants also had an opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Bremen and go for a one-day trip to Bremerhaven which is well known for its Immigration Museum and the Climate Centre.

The next days revolved around being an Intercultural Trainer and how to efficiently conduct training keeping in mind different various aspects like: Participants and their needs, linguistic needs of a multi lingual group, age and back ground, past experiences, expectations from the training. Sessions about how the learning styles and how the role of a teacher differs in different cultures were discussed. As the second week had begun we were told that at the end of the academy we have to pair up with a person and design a training of 70 minutes.  I paired up with a lady named Vera and from the broader options already given to us, we choose the topic “ Understanding and dealing with Cultural differences/ Dimensions”, in this topic, we narrowed down specifically to the topic “Power Distance”.  On 25th January , my co-trainer, Vera and I conducted a session on Power distance. The things experienced during the role play activity were to aid the participants in understanding better how the power distance is sometimes high or low depending on a particular culture.

It was truly an enriching experience where I felt that I was able to absorb all that I could from the opportunity and could also give back in form of discussions and opinions and a different perspective in discussions inside as well as outside the session. I look forward to carrying those discussions with my fellow Trainers and continue to learn more“