Laurea Univerisity of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 6663-6669
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
How do you create an environment where immigrants and students feel comfortable working together and learning from each others?

In my presentation I will describe the experiences of the pedagogical development project at Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Finland. The project is realized by Laurea in co-operation with various municipalities and NGOs. The aim is to develop cultural sensitivity pedagogy as well as to develop new methods for supporting the cultural identity of immigrants. In 2009-2010 the project was granted funding from The European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals.

The basis of the project is “The Multisensory Space”, which means an easily modified space, where visitors can experience landscape, sounds and objects of a different cultural environment. Landscapes are not authentic; they are mostly suggestive, provoking memories and feelings. The space provides the immigrants with an opportunity to “return momentarily” into the familiar home environment as well as being able to invite others into their “home space”. It is during the process of creating and building the multisensory cultural environments together that the Finnish students and immigrants have the opportunity to learn about each other’s cultural values.

Each year since 2008 more than 100 students have been involved in the project. My presentation will include the project -feedback and self assessment of 86 first-year students in Social Services. In addition I´ll summarize the learning diaries of eight Finnish and foreign students who were the project coordinators. According to students´ feedback, the project provided new insights concerning intercultural communication. Students were happy to actively participate in the project and to have meaningful interaction with immigrants. However, it is sometimes challenging to coordinate the needs and timetables of the students and the cooperating institutions.
Multicultural education, intercultural understanding, cultural identity, multisensory.