Intercultural Competence Workshop with Patrick Gruczkun, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Fotoessa’s Intercultural Citizenship Education trainer, Aspasia Protogerou, attended the Training on Intercultural Competence online workshop, delivered by Patrick Gruczkun, with the Coordination Team of the ALF German Network and the support of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), on April 21st 2020.

Patrick, using a good balance between theory and practice, delivered in two 2 1/2-hour- long online sessions via Zoom, on:

  • Intercultural competence: what it is and how it works
    · Identity and migration
    · Culture and cultural differences – as a concept with benefits and limitations
    · The danger of the single story – on stereotypes
    · Dealing with value conflicts

lntercultural competence is the ability to function effectively across cultures, to think and act appropriately, and to communicate and work with people from different cultural backgrounds – at home or abroad. Intercultural competence is a valuable asset in an increasingly globalised world where we are more likely to interact with people from different cultures and countries who have been shaped by different values, beliefs and experiences. (source: Monash University).

A classic approach to the concept of culture is to say that it’s defined by similarly between people (within a country or group). But within one and the same culture (no matter if we mean a country or group) there are always a lot of different behaviors, opinions and values. What a culture does create, however, is a context where certain differences are expected. You feel “at home” in a culture when you are able to navigate between these differences and they feel familiar to you.

Intercultural competence is relevant in situations where we are not familiar with each other’s ways to think, feel and act and when we believe that the reason for this are cultural differences. When we are in such a situation we can get confused, uneasy or frustrated. Intercultural competence then is about regaining the feeling of being “at home” and hence expanding the contexts in which we are able to navigate.

According to Professor Fethi Mansouri, UNESCO Chairholder, intercultural dialogue is in itself an essential tool that we will need in the post-COVID-19 environment. We will need to renegotiate a new global compact, a new social contract. Dialogue will have to play a key role in that. Perhaps it is being compromised right now, but it has a big role to play in the post-COVID-19 world that will emerge.

 

Patrick Gruczkun is an education leader and has a long experience on intercultural competence and conflict resolution training. He was in charge of the Anna Lindh Foundation network coordination from 2011-2016. His firm, Samarbets bolaget, is a member of the Anna Lindh Foundation, Swedish network.

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