29 June, 2010

Diversity Icebreaker

Browsing the web for summer schools in the field of social work, I hit upon a new and valuable tool. That is to say: new (and valuable) to me. In fact the concept has been in development since 1998, the tool was validated a number of years later and at the end of 2008 a prize was subsequently awarded for its international breakthrough.
So what am I talking about?
For starters, Diversity Icebreaker is a 42 item questionnaire with 3 dimensions (Red, Blue and Green) that you can score in around 15 minutes and can be used in team development, kick-off seminars, project training, management development programs, change management processes, communication and diversity training.
The website claims: "The test is easy to use and a more positive alternative to Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), TMP and Belbin Team Roles."
And the bonus is, the instrument is available in 19 languages and free of charge ;)
Up to now, within our school of social work we have worked with the concept of Belbin and his team role theory which is often an eye opener for our students when working together.
The difference with Diversity Icebreaker seems to be that the instrument was developed in a more socially constructed way, reflecting interaction patterns more than just personality and self knowledge issues. The real focus appears to be more on social construction processes that take place in and between groups, identifying both actor-observer attributions and prejudices as a natural part of this.
Filling out the questionnaire is only the starting point of it all. The actual focus is on learning about how such concepts are created and how participants’ perceptions of the other are shaped. The value lies in the collective reflection on these perceptions and the group’s ability to choose, revise and develop concepts of the other.
Reviewing the tool like this (based only on the information displayed on the website), I'm convinced that this is definitely a tool to be tried out and applied in our course programmes where much emphasis is on team work, and in year 2 in particular on multidisciplinary team work.
Another idea would be to introduce this tool in the EDDILI project where the RMA approach takes centre stage. It's especially the potential of opening up a dialogue on diversity and diversity processes that makes it worthwhile to apply in one of the RMA training sessions. After all, it makes participants reflect, listen, talk and act.

20 June, 2010

CMV visits Poland

Last April, from the 19th till the 23rd, our year 2 CMV students went on a study trip to Poland, to Jelenia Góra to be precise. Some year 3 and year 4 students joined them on the trip. As we have a bilateral agreement with the local university, Kolegium Karkonosze, we had also arranged a meeting between the Polish and the Dutch students, which was for all involved fun and educational at the same time.
On the one hand a number of cultural and social organisations were visited, such as an arts centre, the cultural centre, an ecological foundation, a day care centre providing art therapy for mentally handicapped people and a police station.
On the other hand, much effort had been put into arranging meetings between Dutch and Polish students where they could get to know each other. In order to let them work together students were split up into mixed sub groups of four to work on a number of assignments, such as interviewing a relative of the students' family.
The Jelenia Gora region, called Silesia, was hit by massive ethnic cleansing after world war II. By interviewing family members students automatically touched upon the topic of migration, a familiar issue for people from Rotterdam.
Last but not least, there was also a cultural programme. The beautiful Grodziec castle (dating back to 1155) was the venue where it all took place. To sample the atmosphere, just have a look at some of the pictures.

On one of the last days, a visit was paid to Wroclaw, the capital of Silesia. Some of the Polish students from Kolegium Karkonosze were willing to be our guides and showed us the museum island, the panorama of the battle of Racławice and the magnificent Rynek, Polish for the Main Square.
There was terrific cooperation on the part of Kolegium Karkonosze and its students. But we also got terrific cooperation from all the organisations we visited. The Poles know what it means to be great hosts and the Dutch were pleasant guests.
We intend to organise this study trip for all our year 2 students on an annual basis. Here some more pictures of the trip that was accompanied by Han Bakker, Hilde Koops and Hans Donders.