Share your country's culture and learn about the culture of other countries.
Cultural & Academy
Cultural Academy Links
Cultural Academy Wiki
From the Cultural Academy Wiki:
1- Multicultural Welcome
2- Cultural Academy 2008
3- Workshop 1 Cultural Academy 2008
Big Cultural Bash
Cultural Academy Excerpts
Cultural diversity is one of the things that makes this world a very complicated place and we cannot claim that we educate people for a lifetime of working and learning without engaging with the issue of how we prepare them, or how they prepare themselves, for the cultural worlds they will occupy.
must provide opportunity for learning through
experiences of interacting and communicating with other cultures.
there is little scope for cultural education within the academic curriculum.
Cultural Academy adopted an appreciative stance to promoting enquiry into the cultural heritage and diversity of participants lives. This appreciative stance was an important way in which trusting relationships were developed amongst participants: a necessary pre-requisite for sharing experiences.
Through a series of workshops, planning meetings and a student-led conference, participants (students, facilitators and mentors) shared their experiences and understandings of culture and its influences on their lives.
Cultural diversity and deficiencies in our understanding of how to communicate across cultures, or appreciate world views from other cultural perspectives, undoubtedly contributes to the complexity of the world we live in. Cultural Academy was born
from the duel beliefs that we needed to explore this dimension of complexity and a concern to improve students’ experiences by creating opportunity for them to explore the idea and effects of culture.
An email invitation was sent out on the all student mail list and twenty seven students
completed an application form: each explained why they wanted to join Cultural Academy.
Reasons given for wanting to be part of Cultural Academy include
- Exposure to and learning about other cultures
- Working more effectively with other cultures
- Relevance to my academic programme
- To learn more about intercultural communication
- To help me to be a better professional
- To help me be a better person / learn about myself
- Networking and friendship
- I just want to be part of it
Intending participants were also invited to tell a short story of a situation that they had experienced requiring them to be aware of and be sensitive to other cultures. The stories were synthesized and anonymised and put onto a Cultural Academy wiki as a knowledge
asset ahead of the first workshop. This was to show participants that the process was underpinned by story telling and the sharing of personal experiences and that they could grow useful knowledge quickly by pooling their experiences.
students had to bring a cultural gift
The workshops provided opportunity for small group and whole group conversation and discussion. Presentation was kept to a minimum and the members of staff acted as
We used concept maps to reveal participants initial understandings of the meanings of culture and some simple tools to foster personal and group enquiry into cultural identities ‘who am I?’ and ‘What’s in a name?’. These were very engaging but the most powerful moment was when each participant offered the cultural gifts they had brought and spoke convincingly about why they had chosen their gifts. The idea of cultural gifts which we had seen as a potentially interesting aspect of the process became one of the most important ways
of sharing culture and beliefs.
In the second workshop we used a large world map as the basis for assembling images that reflected the cultural heritage of the group and each participant wrote something in their heritage language. The session used the theme of ‘dimensions of difference’ and we used the technique of inviting participants to vote (using an audience response system) on propositions (Figure 3). The patterns of belief that this triggered was very powerful and a number of students felt that this was one of the most powerful set of conversations to emerge from the whole process. Many students discovered that they did not feel that they fitted into a particular culture: who they were was a fusion of two or more cultures.
In the third workshop we examined organizational cultures, the languages we use to communicate and the way we misunderstand people from other cultures. We learnt to count to 10 in Chinese and count to 10 in Chinese with our fingers. We also learnt to write 1-10 in Japanese. All of these acts enabled those of us who were not from these cultures to appreciate what it must be like not to have the verbal or written language to communicate.
Cultural Academy, ‘I am’ film – for YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGN1MPk5elk
To support this work several new infrastructures are being created and these were utilized by Cultural Academy
- an on-line space (shareexperience.net) to encourage conversation and the sharing and recording of experience
- a new learning through experience award to value and recognise the learning
- a mentoring scheme to support and encourage reflection
- a wiki to support the production and accumulation of knowledge
The important pedagogic ideas that underpin Cultural Academy are
- collaborative learning
- productive inquiry
- immersive experience
Pedagogic practices within the enquiry process included
- concept mapping – to facilitate personal enquiry into understandings of culture
- cultural enquiry using simple question-based tools
- voting systems to reveal patterns of beliefs in response to propositions about culture
- story telling – descriptions of personal experiences and on-line blogs and postings to community forum
- mentoring to encourage conversation and reflection
- film making – enquiry into our multicultural campus, the recording of the cultural academy process and the evaluation of the process
- peer ‘teaching’ – the facilitation of conversation
- questionnaire surveys – on-line and paper based surveys of staff and students to gain
their perspectives on our multi-cultural campus
- end process reflective account and conversation to consolidate learning using a set of
One stated objective was to help participants “develop understanding, confidence and capability for socializing, working, learning and playing in a culturally complex world”
What have you learned that you think might help in your everyday experience of meeting people from different cultures?
- To be open about my own culture in the hope that others will do the same to make understanding easier.
- That people have different interpretations of things
- Difficult to generalise cultures
- I think is the reflection and open up of mind that brought up today helps
- Be willing to immerse and listen
- Paying attention to details
- I have learnt that although people may belong to different cultures and have different beliefs to my own, they still have feelings common to mine
- Trying to understand deeply and go below the surface
- To be open minded and non-judgemental
- Most of the people on campus are respectful to different cultures and it is not enough to communicate with people outside our own cultures
- Differentiate, understand what the traits of people are, understand that not all people have the same comfort level.
- I’ve learned to appreciate the sensitivity of each individual’s perspective
- Understanding that different styles of communicating and meeting do not necessarily correlate to traits they might seem to in one’s own frame of cultural reference e.g. US-style confronting is good and productive rather than American meetings are brash and rude;
- that diversity of backgrounds lead to behavioural patterns,
- how immersion into the unknown opens answers for new appreciation;
- the role of body language, I think I need to be more aware of mixed signals I might be sending; how to explain something unique in my culture to people from other cultures;
- that Chinese people are soooo different ?; apply the model that we build;
- about organisational settings – development – made conscious, importance of body language, aspects of organisations/structures;
- how a certain culture can be reflected through meetings and with these models can be quite useful; meeting style by different culture; knowing how they handle business meetings in
(‘The names session taught me that whilst for some a name is simply a tag they are known by, for others it may be a form of family or cultural pride’)
‘When I drew my map I felt it was quite comprehensive, and was doubtful whether I would be able to add much to it…I added plenty, developing ideas and adding new ones’.
All participants said they were surprised by the similarities, suggesting they were all expecting the experience to highlight the differences. ‘I discovered that there are many similarities’; ‘we were not as
different as we initially thought’;’and realised the differences but also the similarities’.
This safe environment to share in led to participants forming a strong network of support. One said ‘The support system that we built up …definitely made the whole experience more unforgettable and rewarding’.
Two clear motivating factors emerged from the accounts. Participants were motivated to respond to the email advertising the academy because the idea ‘excited’ them, which shows that emotions can sometimes be very motivating and also very personal. One participant said
the positive emotions experienced regarding what they brought to the group, so externally, were very positive. However, this participant also expressed feeling negative emotions when discovering one’s own ignorance and this was quite difficult and uncomfortable to experience.
When someone experiences an emotional reaction to something, it is likely to impact or motivate them, to a much greater extent.
The second motivating factor was the participants’ own cultural backgrounds. This was a largely motivating factor. For some participants it was their rich background of various cultures ‘I have a very culturally diverse background’, ‘belonging to two minority groups myself’ whilst for others it was to experience many cultures in one place; ‘having spent my
whole life in my won country’.
Participants also recognised the importance of understanding cultural diversity in this globalised world. ‘Excellent addition to my CV’, ‘awareness of the cultural diverse environment’. Participants said it was important to manage expectations. They felt all had
entered the Academy with similar expectations and goals, which helped the cohesion of the group. As it went on, their expectations changed slightly, and much of the impactful and valuable learning was unexpected. Participants felt the Academy had impact and value for all of them and they would recommend it to others.
My Online Cultural Academy
To show how I keep connected to people from different cultures
My (emapey) online social network:
People on my Twitter background image are currently my best online friends.
I live in Uruguay, South America. I speak Spanish. The internet allows me to network with colleagues worldwide. My BEST online friends live in: Kuwait, USA, Guam, Canada, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Turkey, England, Ireland, Spain, Argentina and Brazil
I use Twitter to keep up with people I know from blogs, online courses and online conferences.
Twitter: "pointless babble" or peripheral awareness + social grooming?