OpenLearn Resource: Migration (UK)

Intercultural PedagogyOpenLearn: Exploring how migration changes the places where we live. The Open University, UK, 2018.

Migration has a major impact on local communities, leading to a series of contexts in which intercultural dialogue either occurs, or would be useful if it did occur. This course, prepared by The Open University, integrates multiple short videos discussing relevant matters. It could be usefully followed by an individual interested in the content, or parts of it might be integrated into an existing course.

Full description from the course site:

“In this OpenLearn resource, we have raised the question of how migration changes the places we live in and the communities of people with whom we live. We looked at the ways in which migration can change the everyday sense of belonging and how local authorities, voluntary sector and local communities can work together to create an inclusive narrative. We also looked at how communities and a sense of belonging to a place can be challenged by policies such as the hostile environment, aiming to make life more difficult for undocumented migrants. These policies, we have argued end up challenging a sense of social cohesion by dispersing asylum seekers to places where they might be at risk of hate crime, by uprooting them from their communities through detention, as well as engendering feelings of unbelonging through border checks in everyday situations such as at work, when renting a flat or sending their children to school. On the other hand, these policies also have a detrimental effect on community for those who are not migrants. While they can affect black and ethnic minority citizens in particular by casting doubt on their belonging and requiring them to prove they are not indeed migrant newcomers, they also affect other citizens by requiring everyone to take part in everyday bordering practices, checking the migration status of people who register with the GP or enroll their children in school. Yet, there are also oppositional communities of resistance who build solidarities across the boundary of migrant and non-migrant.”

Indigenization of Post-Secondary Institutions (Canada)

Intercultural PedagogyWilson, Kory. (2018).Pulling together: A guide for Indigenization of post-secondary institutions. BCcampus’ Indigenization Professional Learning Series.

“The Foundations Guide is part of an open professional learning series developed for staff across post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. Guides in the series include: Foundations;[1] Leaders and Administrators;[2] Curriculum Developers;[3] Teachers and Instructors;[4] Front-line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors;[5] and Researchers.[6]. These guides are the result of the Indigenization Project, a collaboration between BCcampus and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. The project was supported by a steering committee of Indigenous education leaders from BC universities, colleges, and institutes, the First Nations Education Steering Committee, the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, and Métis Nation BC.

These guides are intended to support the systemic change occurring across post-secondary institutions through Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation. A guiding principle from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada process states why this change is happening.

Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacies of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Aboriginal peoples’ education, cultures and languages, health, child welfare, the administration of justice, and economic opportunities and prosperity. (2015, p. 3)

(From the Overview)

This series is one result of the BCcampus’ Indigenization Project.

Videos from TV2: All that we Share (Denmark)

Intercultural PedagogyTV2 Denmark created  the Alt Det Vi Deler (All that we share) video 2 years ago, showing multiple ways to group individuals to either emphasize their differences, or their commonalities.

This year they’ve done it again, posting All that we share: Connected. Again, this is a fantastic way to demonstrate shared history, even (especially) when what we share is invisible.

Either would make a wonderful prompt for class discussions of cultural differences and/or assumptions about identity and/or group membership. Students could be asked to create a version for their own communities. Here’s a video adapting the original ad from Nigeria, and others from France, Canada, and the UK.

Food and Cultural Identity as a Pedagogical Tool

Intercultural PedagogyPrint advertisements created by TBWA, Australia, in 2009 for the Sydney International Food Festival, show flags for different countries made out of their traditional foods.

Sydney International Food Festival

So far the campaign has received a lot of attention from design and advertising sites, as in this analysis by Ads of the World, which includes images of the flags and details as to the designers, or from food websites, as with Kitchn, which focuses on the foods chosen. @Sietar_UK  tweeted about it in 2019; clearly they are correct that the campaign should get attention from those interested in intercultural matters, even a decade late. In particular, these flags made of foods should be a good way to get students actively involved in thinking about cultural differences while doing something creative, such as asking them to create flags for additional countries (especially ones to which students have connections), or to research the particular foods chosen and how they are traditionally prepared, and/or what other countries have already adopted them.

Conquering the Cultural Barriers of Teaching in Thailand by Charles McKinney

Conquering the Cultural Barriers of Teaching in Thailand
By Charles McKinney

Charles McKinney with students

I moved to Bangkok, Thailand in January 2013 to earn my master’s degree as a full-time student at Webster University Thailand. I needed to find work to support myself. After two months of hunting, I landed a job at a private language school teaching English, something I was qualified to do as a TESOL-certified American with two years of previous overseas ESL expertise.

Having never taught Thai students before, I initially struggled to satisfy their learning needs. The students expected me to teach by talking; they wanted to participate as little as possible. My boss told me that, unlike American students who take an active role, Thai students are often quite passive learners.

Classes were mostly one-on-one, a new format for me. A few lessons were cancelled after students griped about my teaching methods, disliking the fact that I was following the textbook lesson plan precisely rather than teaching from my knowledge of the topics and using the book minimally. I started out teaching academic writing and grammar to adolescents who found the material dry; thus my challenge was to make it more interesting for them.

Really, I had no lessons in technique: my busy boss usually gave me the necessary resources to teach and then left me to figure out the rest on my own with minimum advice. So, after nearly a month of floundering to improve my teaching performance my boss decided to give me a two-month hiatus (although I did not know this at the time). It turned out she was right: I needed more time to adapt to the culture and the students.

A few months later, I was called back to teach a new academic writing class for a mid-career professional who wanted to return to school. This time I brought my computer with me, using the Internet as an aid to my lesson plan. I prepared PowerPoint presentations to convey the material in an engaging and orderly manner. Throughout the two-month class, we managed to build rapport and exchange cultural knowledge that helped us to understand one another as individuals.

“Here are pictures of my Buddhist monk ceremony, a rite of passage that many Thai men experience,” my student shared with me one day. In return, I showed him a student newspaper from my college days. “This is my pride and joy as former editor-in-chief of the paper; you can learn about my culture through this medium,” I told him. It was one of those cultural insight moments I cherished. As our class progressed, he gave my boss positive feedback about me – and my confidence in my new techniques improved.

I was not only the first American, but the first African-American teacher this school hired. I have now taught students from Bhutan and Russia as well as Thailand. This experience has taught me the values of patience, flexibility, humility and effective cross-cultural communication. Teachers can make a difference in students’ lives, especially in cultures that are drastically different from their own, but students also make a difference in their teachers’ lives. They learned some English, but I learned about their cultures. Creating a comfortable space for students to be themselves, and remembering that teachers also learn from their students, can foster wonderful intercultural dialogues.

Charles McKinney is a recent MA media communications graduate from Webster University Thailand. Having embarked on a rewarding career of ESL/EFL teaching as an expat in East Asia, Charles is hoping to secure an English Language Fellowship with the US Embassy for the new school year and is making plans to possibly join the Peace Corps next year. CID’s website was helpful during Charles’s master’s thesis research, and he wrote this essay as a way of giving back. Contact him through LinkedIn.

A space of relationship for dialogue among cultures

A lesson dedicated to the genocide in Burundi: An occasion of dialogue as a space of relationship among cultures
by Maria Flora Mangano

I am happy to share with you what happened recently in my class, during a lesson dedicated to the genocide of Rwanda and Burundi. I am currently lecturing on dialogue among cultures at St. Peter’s Philosophical-Theological Institute in Viterbo, Italy.

One of the students comes from Burundi; his name is Jean. He introduced himself during the first lesson, describing his background and choice of life as a religious. One day outside of class, he mentioned the war in Burundi and the genocide of 1993. In that moment he shared with me and two Italian students what it was like to be a Tutsi. In 2 or 3 minutes he described a few images of the genocide, which he lived through when he was 12 years old; thanks to God, all his family survived. I was shocked by his words and I asked him if he would be able to share his experience with the class, proposing that the students would both listen to his story and see part of the film Hotel Rwanda together. We could organise this special and unforgettable lesson in a couple of hours.

Jean prepared a powerpoint and presented the story of his country and the story of his family and relatives during those three terrible days of the genocide. I proposed to the class not to see the entire movie (which is quite long, so we saw only the trailer) but rather to dedicate the majority of the time to Jean’s personal story. I introduced the technical vocabulary, including genocide and shoah, sharing what these terms have meant in the last century and what they mean now. The 16 students come from 9 countries; some of them did not know even where Burundi was. I asked the students to try to create a space of relationship in which they could speak without any fear of offending or to be offended.

Jean was extremely clear in explaining the historical background, presenting the political and social aspects underlying the genocide. Then he shared his story with us. I am still speechless, shocked and impressed. It was the first time that one of my students desired to share what the genocide was for him and he prepared everything in detail. One young person who survived the genocide decided to offer his experience as a gift, not in revenge. He was able to share his memories, even if these are still dramatic and negative.

Jean said that in African culture the tradition is oral, not written and for this reason it is not possible to ask to him (or others) to write about their experience. He prefers talking over writing about it, but he never did so before this, as he said that the open hurts rest open even after time and sharing.

At the end of his time, all the students were so impressed and touched they could not speak. I ask the students to take time and then to try to share with Jean their feelings, also to try to thank him in a real way. I hope it will yet happen.

I am happy to share this wonderful experience of dialogue and sharing in class. I hope to be able to publish about it in the future. As scholar, I felt that this should be our way of teaching, especially given the discipline of communication we try to teach (and learn). Let’s go ahead to try to do the best with our students and in research on this issue. I am still convinced that we may try to re-write history through dialogue.

I am sharing what happened because it is uncommon to talk about the genocide of Rwanda (and Burundi) for people who survived this. It is still too early, as Jean told me. I consider this moment an important effect of dialogue among cultures, as this student chose to share his life with the class and he prepared the lesson on his own, without any help from me. He chose what to say, also decided not to show any pictures of the genocide and he carefully chose the words to describe those days. He also chose to first present the political and historical conditions as a necessary introduction to the genocide.

Afterwards, Jean reported that he felt understood by the class, so probably he was ready to share this moment. In the days since, I have received mails from him and from the others who have expressed their appreciation for that moment. I have the feeling that we built the space for relationship as the basis of dialogue during the course, and that this moment significantly enriched this space.

NOTE: See the response prompted by this post, by Robyn Penman.