SkillsAct4Vet – Training

Module 1 - Before the mobility

Exercise 1

A multicultural self

Materials needed

Pen, print-out template (editable). The template can be either in the form of a simple word file that is editable online, or simply drawn on a piece of paper and directly filled out with a pen.

Estimated time needed

15 min. (guidelines and carrying out) + 15 min. discussion

Description and guidelines

Prepare a template and give a copy to the student. She/he writes her/his name in the middle of it. Then ask the student to think of some characteristics, traits, that he/she considers the most important. These characteristics could be anything, e.g.: gender, nationality, personality trait they think that is characteristic of them (e.g. clever, funny, introvert or extrovert, shy, talkative etc.) religious orientation, external characteristics (e.g. black, white, Asian etc.).

The student should choose the characteristics with which they identify to the highest extent. It is desired to prompt the student to include at least some of the cultural characteristics that many times are used as the basis for constructing stereotypes. That is, characteristics or cultural traits that refer to nationality, religion, values, attitudes and practices (like for example being vegetarian or being silent, talkative, speaking loud, using a lot of gesticulation, etc.)

The template for the students should look like this. You can easily prepare one yourself and add more satellite circles to host more characteristics, but it is advised to keep the number of them low, in order for the students to try to choose those which are most important for them:

Once the student completes the template, ask her/him to think of two different situations from her/his past experience:

  1. A time, a period, or even a situation or an instance when they were especially proud to identify themselves with one of the characteristics (the descriptors) they used in their template. Ask them to make some notes describing this experience and how they and the others (if involved) felt about it.
  2. A time, period, or even a situation or an instance when it was not pleasant, or even painful to be identified with one of the characteristics (the descriptors) they used in their template. Ask them again to make some notes describing this experience and how they and the others (if involved) felt about it.

Then, ask the students to write down (to the best of their knowledge either through own experience, or what they have heard from friends, parents, mass media, books, movies etc.) some stereotypes (generalizations) associated with one of the characteristics with which they have chosen to identify themselves, but which they think is not really consistent with who they are in reality.

They should use the following sentence pattern:

I am ____________, but I am NOT ______________.

Example:

I am Italian, but I am NOT speaking loud all the time, doing a lot of expressions by moving my hands when speaking with others. 

Assessment and discussion

Go through the characteristics the students have chosen. Discuss the notes they made about the times they felt proud or bad about them in the past. Ask them to share their thoughts about it in detail and the reasons for that.

The exercise prompts the students to reflect on cultural differences and understand the way stereotypes and invalid generalisations are constructed, while at the same time it helps them to acquire cultural empathy, awareness, tolerance and understanding of different habits and world views. This eventually will help them to better adjust to different cultural settings, while seeing their own cultural background not as distancing them from the others, but enriching their work environment with new ideas and solutions, possibly beneficial for the company.