CGrow, how to overcome cultural barriers!

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On the 23rd of January, two CGrow facilitators run a workshop in Chambray les Tours, France with 22 participants. The group was composed by students aged between 18 and 22 years old, studying International Business. Their teacher wanted them to face and discuss about what they could feel with a ‘cultural shock’.

When we were contacting different actors interested in the CGrow project, we met this International Business teacher who was very keen to implement a workshop within her classroom, to give her students the right opportunity to deal with intercultural aspects.

The workshop was about intercultural communication. We divided the class in two groups, each of them having to learn ‘rules’ about their own culture. Twenty minutes after, the two groups met and had to ‘build a bridge’ together. Students tried to find ways to communicate despite the differences between their cultural backgrounds.

After this activity, we planned a dynamic debriefing. Students started sharing their feelings about the activity, speaking about their frustrations and inability to understand, but also highlighting the solutions they found to solve difficult situations. Most of the students laughed, reminding some cultural rules they could not get during the simulation; but others were ill-at-ease and quite uncomfortable with a situation they could not have a grasp on.

During the second part of the debriefing, students spoke about the work experience they had to do in a foreign country. Most of them stayed in Europe (Spain – Great Britain – Germany – The Netherlands), however a few crossed the ocean to the USA, Mexico and China. They could make a link between the workshop they did with us and the experience they lived abroad.

This ‘link’ made them thinking about both positive and negative aspects of such experience, thinking about possible solutions they could have found in order to overcome cultural barriers. As one participant clearly summed it up: we have to take into consideration other people’s culture!

Certainly, we are going to meet again this class in March, to work even more on cultural and identity matters. Furthermore, we are very glad to see that other teachers from the same school are considering to organise similar workshops with their students, firstly on discrimination and prejudice. Teachers want their students to learn about tolerance and how to live with others, being able to accept and live with different cultures.

Written by Amélie Dupont Sauvagère, YFU France Pedagogical Assistant