16 June, 2009

Dutch dialogue bench

Following a Danish example a class of ours from a minor tried out the dialogue bench set up by teacher Anna Hendrix. They talked in numerous pairs about their mutual similarities and when they felt a European. They also provided answers to the open-ended phrase: "intercultural is ......" .
Although our department is still busy designing and implementing an "international / intercultural corner" within the "meeting area" of our school of social work, the students just seated themselves on the new red furniture to start their dialogues.
This new idea is a result from European cooperation within the BLaID project, an EU funded Grundtvig project with 6 different EU partners.
In brief, the dialogue bench is in fact a bench or couch, or even just a corner within your institute or organisation, which invites you to communicate. It provides room for diversity and a variety of (inter)cultural expressions, the main aim being: promoting mutual respect. A fascinatingly simple initiative worth stimulating within our department.
Here's a short photostory of some of the BLaID activities that took place in Rotterdam.

BLaID project activities in Rotterdam from Jane Traveller on Vimeo.

13 June, 2009

Final stage of BLaID project

Stimulating educational exchanges, constructive cooperation, interesting topics for (informal) discussion, open-minded people, warm friends, a positive atmosphere, inspirational stories: those are the phrases that come to mind when looking back on 2 years of activities within the BLaID project.
CMV was fortunate enough to be granted a lump sum for a Grundtvig Learning Partnership 2 years ago in order to participate in a project dealing with intercultural dialogue and blended learning, BLaID in short.

From 9 to 13 June the last face-to-face meeting was held and organised by our Lithuanian partner from Zemaitijos College in Rietavas. And what a wonderfully well organised meeting it became. As part of an international week all the BLaID partners had the opportunity to talk to other international contacts as well while visiting local cultural hotspots and networking at the same time with people from Romania, Germany and Ukraine.
Apart from a number of interesting talks on other projects and project ideas, we could also compile relevant information and compare notes for the final report to be handed in within a few weeks.
Even though our project was a learning partnership, focussed more on the process than on products, all project members emphasized that we had produced quite an impressive number of concrete results. Actually, we had even established more than originally envisaged in the project application.
This was definitely one of the most positive and rewarding project experiences I've ever had and I was not the only one in thinking so. Each project member has benefited enormously from the BLaID activities.

No one could have anticipated that the basis we had laid at a contact seminar in Bucharest in February 2007 would turn out to be so successful.

07 June, 2009

CMV students active in M U N

M U N?? Model United Nations (also Model UN or MUN) is an academic simulation of the United Nations that aims to educate participants about civics, effective communication, globalization and multilateral diplomacy, according to Wikipedia.
For 3 years we've organised a mini MUN for 3rd year CMV students and each time it was great fun and an interesting learning opportunity to get immersed in talks at a global level.
Having appointed delegates for 17 different countries the issue on the table was "the war about water", a topical issue but still quite open for debate within the appointed timespan of 3 and a half hours.
Although hesitant at first during the opening speeches most students adapted pretty quickly to the session and the jargon used at those sessions.
It was especially the honourable delegate from Zimbabwe, who stole the show, although he was the first to respond to the chair that "Zimbabwe is not known for stealing".
Within the last half hour it became clear how much overall progress all delegates had been making when all countries present had to respond to the crisis in Pakistan in their one-minute speeches.
Helping to prepare students to become global citizens can be seen as evidence of a growing tendency in higher education institutes to try and demonstrate a sense of (worldwide) social responsibility. Organising a MUN is a brilliant way of doing this.
Preparations are already underway to organise a university-wide MUN at Hogeschool Rotterdam( MUNRO ?) covering a few days and trying to tempt even more students into taking on roles as delegates, debating and developing solutions to worldwide problems.