culture is ... culture and ...
What is culture, what is an encounter of cultures, what sense does it make and what can we do with the culture of encounter as with the encounter of cultures, by professionals as by bipeds, by simple humans who move in the encounter.
I wrote these and other reflections and metaphors on culture for the CIT4VET project.
There are things that people do without noticing too much.
Others that individuals won't ever do.
In front of a sunny and windy winter day, when walking on a long sandy beach with the backwash furiously slamming and splashing handfuls of foam into the air, some will probably enjoy the magnificence; some will be talking with a friend and communicating emotions with a call; others might take pictures to be shared on socials; taking selfish-selfies for posting, while some might prefer to move to a cafe and enjoy a warm drink.
Most probably, no one will think of counting the grains of sand to give a representation of the scenario or to measure the dimension of what's the activity, whatever it might be.
This is just a metaphor of what culture is. Something everyone faces till early-age, in which every one grows up, shaping the identity and accompany individuals into their evolution and journey through life.
Culture is an highly-nuanced, multidimensional and dynamic concept.
Culture refers to the whole picture: it is the whole set of behaviours and meanings which have been developed by humans though the passing time with their own environment, and which passes from a generation to another.
As the environments change, the culture follows becoming characteristic of a given area in a certain time defining a specific society. There have been time in the history of humanity when these changes have been more or less slow or fast and traumatic.
The recent migration fluxes and the societal changes obviously accelerate the need to confront on what cultures are, how they can integrate, what professionals should keep in mind when delivering educational, learning and communicational products.
CIT4VET project enlightens that culture effects on learning and communication preferences as well as on the setting of the learning environment.
This means that the personal cultural background is recognisable on both sides: on the trainers’ side in the way trainings are delivered and on the participants’ side in the way they expect a training to be. This inducts the need to consider there are different values, communication styles and expectations.
Following, it becomes fundamental to recognise the stumbling blocks that can lead to cross-cultural misunderstandings (LaRay M. Barna, 1991), which comprehends the assumption of similarities, the language differences, the variety of non-verbal misinterpretations, the usage of preconceptions and stereotypes, the tendency to evaluate, the level of stress and anxiety under-present in the relational field.
“CIT4VET Open Online Catalogue of Intercultural Tools for Vocational Education and Training” is a project funded by European Commission which offers the key-elements to develop and improve the necessary intercultural competencies to respond to the ever-changing demand of such intercultural competences.
CIT4VET implements a variety of intercultural tools dedicated to various professionals which represents CIT4VET's target group, such as VET-trainers and staff of providers of VET courses, educators, teachers, intercultural mediators and public officials responsible for VET management and policy-making at the level of VET education.
The project results are addressed to professionals working to foster intercultural dialogue and inclusion process.
The outputs of the project are intended to support professionals to be effective in today's culturally diverse reality.
The results implemented by the partnership are:
- a database of available intercultural tools: this database offers a collection of tools developed within previous various initiatives and projects as Open Education Resources
- dedicated training materials about culture: the five on-line modules are available in the form of e-learning, with exercises and tests allowing for self-assessment of intercultural competences. The five modules are dedicated to deepen:
→ what is culture
→ models of cultures
→ the impact of culture on VET
→ what can you do now
→ trends in the field
- a methodological guide offering skills, praxis and practical examples on how to develop simulations within the process of intercultural training
In order to favour a direct and free access to all project results, they are user-friendly and freely available within an Online Open Educational Platform. The database and the five-modules training materials are already available online.
The partnership of CIT4VET project is composed by Assist gmbh (Germany), ITT Institute for Technology Tralee (Ireland), Danmar Computers and Centrum Kształcenia Edukator (Poland), Diciannove s.c. (Italy), Intercultural Business Improvements (Netherlands) and Runi Center (Bulgaria).
Any further information on the project and on the partnership and free access to the materials produced by the project is available on the project website https://cit4vet.erasmus.site and on fb www.facebook.com/CIT4VET