Act Global was privileged to host the final part of a long term training course called Does Culture Matter. The course brought together 35 participants from 6 countries, Sweden, Romania, Turkey, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan and Indonesia.
The course was an evaluation of the project, which took place over the last year. Participants first met in Romania in July where they learned about 4 elements of intercultural Communication Competence: Values and Ethics, Intercultural Competence, Conflict management and Facilitation. (Read more about this course here). Following the course participants went back home where they followed an online coaching module, implementing own projects around these 4 elements. The aim of the home projects was to put the theory into practice, identifying how to foster cultural communication, building bridges and bonds between communities and individuals
Participants’ realities were very different. Some worked in
education and others in the business sector. However, it seemed that the skills were transferable. Many of the participants developed workshops or sessions around these elements, for others this was a personal reflection. This part of the course supported reflection of the topic, and for some this was challenging. To support this, coaching was put into place. Participants were allocated a coach to discuss together about the different elements and how this would be relevant to projects in their reality. Participants shared their reflections on the Does Culture Matter website. We created a blog page for these, which can be read here. The blog reflected participants’ personal journeys and understanding of the topic; the practice is based very much on their own cultural reality.
Coming to Bali, Indonesia, this part of the course had a number of elements of its own to achieve. As well as evaluation and reflection on the process of the course in Romania, the home projects and coaching, it also wanted to support further cultural
understanding. The course was held in Bali as the island has a very unique culture. Bali has cultivated a culture in isolation rooted in Hinduism. Due to geographical isolation Balinese traditions and ceremonies are unlike any other. Working with local communities Act Global was able to support a cultural emersion experience for participants. Participants went to Pura Tirta Empul where they engaged in a traditional bathing ceremony. The aim was for participants to observe and/or experience a very local ceremony. Through this process we wanted participants to reflect and empathise on what the ceremony was about, what they gained from that, and why they felt the ceremony was important to local Balinese. Participants also had the opportunities to discuss openly and honestly about the process with each other and with local Balinese.
On the course we discussed and shared about the process of culture shock and adaptation. Again bringing some theory to support the understanding of the process they may be experiencing or have experienced before. Understanding culture shock allowed participants to contextualise the experience, seeing how this played a part in their working / volunteering reality.
Over the course of the week participants shared and learned from each other, supporting all to have much higher cultural
understanding and knowledge. We concluded the week with a visit to Uluwatu temple to see the mystical Kacak dance, then to Jimbaran where we finished with a fish meal on the beach with a closing ceremony.
For Act Global as a host and partner it’s been an incredible journey and we have truly enjoyed supporting the project and seeing how the project has benefited all participants. We give a big thanks to Addo Consult for leading on this project and securing funding from the European Commission. Thank you to all the partners that supported the project and all the participants that put time and effort into making the course what it was. We hope to continue to develop Does Culture Matter and support more and more people in developing their cultural competency.