About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6177-6185
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain

HOW TO USE STEREOTYPES TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CULTURAL INTERPRETATION AND ENCOURAGE INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE

S. Kanobana

Ghent University (BELGIUM)
As Ghent University is increasingly attracting international undergraduate and graduate students there is a growing need for special attention concerning intercultural issues. Besides the presence of international students the personal and student body has also been diversifying in the last decade. The diversity of cultures, linguistic backgrounds and religious affiliations within the same working force or among the students brings the need to tackle issues arising from intercultural encounters.

Ghent University’s established a Diversity and Gender Unit, this unit has been organizing workshops ‘Intercultural Communication’ for its personal and doctoral schools. PhD-students as well as teaching staff and administrative and technical staff can choose to participate to these workshops. These workshops ‘Intercultural Communication’ have attracted participants from all sections and departments of the university and are especially designed to tackle a wide set of problems, misunderstandings and issues related to multicultural settings in a limited time frame (3 hours).

To be interculturaly competent doesn’t mean you have to know all cultures, which is rather impossible. There are alternative ways to become an intercultural competent person. Hence, the workshops are going beyond informing people on other cultures. The workshops’ goal is to enhance its participants awareness of their own cultural interpretation mechanisms. Below I will give a short overview of what is been done to achieve this goal in a relatively short stretch of time.

First participants are motivated to discuss social themes such as migration, ethnocentrism and racism. Participants are encouraged to talk about their own experiences, expectations and culture, and to reflect upon terminology and cultural differences. The workshops emphasize that knowing your own culture is the only way to understand your own perspectives and thus understanding other cultures. Being self-conscience of your own cultural mechanisms becomes the key to appreciate other ways of thinking and doing things.

Secondly cultural self consciousness is achieved through an explicit discussion on stereotypes and their meaning. To reach this goal participants have self reflective discussions on negative and positive stereotypes concerning their own cultural group. Furthermore following questions are raised: How do stereotypes work? What is wrong with stereotypes? Can we avoid stereotype thinking? Are stereotypes useful? How so? Participants are stimulated to think about where stereotypes come from, what they tell us and how they can teach us something if handled with care.

Through this experience participants are engaged in critical thinking of several stereotypes they may have of others. They are taught how to apprehend what they don’t know as to learn more about others through sensitive questions concerning their own stereotypes.
@InProceedings{KANOBANA2012HOW,
author = {Kanobana, S.},
title = {HOW TO USE STEREOTYPES TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CULTURAL INTERPRETATION AND ENCOURAGE INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE},
series = {6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-5563-5},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {6177-6185}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Kanobana
TI - HOW TO USE STEREOTYPES TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CULTURAL INTERPRETATION AND ENCOURAGE INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE
SN - 978-84-615-5563-5/2340-1079
PY - 2012
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2012
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2012 Proceedings
SP - 6177
EP - 6185
ER -
S. Kanobana (2012) HOW TO USE STEREOTYPES TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CULTURAL INTERPRETATION AND ENCOURAGE INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE, INTED2012 Proceedings, pp. 6177-6185.
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