Good communication is essential in a globalized world. It needs an understanding of people with different cultural, societal, economic, religious, linguistic, and lifestyle backgrounds. That’s why the Friede Springer endowed professorship of Global Child Health and the International Office recently conducted the first StuFu course, “Intercultural pre-departure training", to prepare students for travelling abroad.
What is an “Intercultural pre-departure training"? And why is it necessary?
Intercultural awareness and competence are foundational to communication in a globalised world. Intercultural awareness results from the "Knowledge of others; knowledge of self; skills to interpret and relate; skills to discover and/or to interact; valuing others' values, beliefs, and behaviors; and relativizing one's self", according to Michael Byram. Effective communication needs a respectful understanding of the people with different cultural, societal, economic, religious, linguistic, and lifestyle backgrounds. It involves the awareness of one's own culture and another culture, which is very important in the current growing demand for global electives. Students’ behavior and actions during international electives matter. They represent their university and society. Hosts expect that guests respect other institutional and societal norms and cultures. Knowing norms and cultures can be particularly relevant when visiting countries from the Global South. Structured pre-departure/ pre-elective also often improve the educational outcomes of electives.
However, pre-elective practice beyond self-study is rarely available in German universities and therefore, many students lack formal preparation before global electives. In addition, many people with different cultural backgrounds live in Germany. In 2019, 19.2% of the German population had an immigration background (first and second generation, including mixed heritage and ethnic German repatriates and their descendants). The training improves knowledge, understanding, and skills for meeting the needs of the increasingly diverse population in Germany. As it improves provider-patient communication, intercultural awareness training can be particularly valuable for the Faculty of Health students.
Which aspects did the provided training include?
By the end of the training, students will be able to:
1) understand globalization and global health in the context of historical connections between colonization and colonial continuities
2) reflect on their role and intentions in the context of global power differentials and recognize ethical responsibilities
3) learn the importance of being aware of the ‘Reflective Self’ and how to perceive bias in dealing with other people
4) understand culture as a dynamic concept and learn strategies in dealing with people from a culture that is foreign to them; and
d) develop a critical-reflexive attitude and establish learning goals appropriate to their training following the expectations of the host institution.
Will the training be offered in the near future again?
In the future, Stufu will offer pre-departure and post-return training sessions each semester. Each training accommodates up to 15 students to ensure individual support and to facilitate group discussion. In addition, students can collect two ECTS points when they complete an additional assignment. Since Global Health is a central theme, Faculty of Health students are encouraged to apply but all other students are invited also.
Questions? For more information on the course, feel free to get in touch with the International Office via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. med. Farzana Yasmin,
Friede Springer Stiftungsprofessur für Globale Kindergesundheit
Die Universität Witten/Herdecke ist durch das NRW-Wissenschaftsministerium unbefristet staatlich anerkannt und wird – sowohl als Institution wie auch für ihre einzelnen Studiengänge – regelmäßig akkreditiert durch: