Practica: Real world collaboration

Hands-on learning is being increasingly researched and promoted in academic circles. For those of us in the intercultural professions, there are now many more opportunities for creative collaboration with faculty and students around the globe. Of course, we enjoy being invited as lecturers to various courses related to our specialties, but today the time is ripe for ongoing involvement in which we share knowledge and technologies, while we coach and mentor students and encourage their projects.

This year I have the privilege and the pleasure of being engaged with students at two different universities in the development of significant learning tools for the intercultural field.

The first was at JAMK University of Applied Sciences where students in International Business Management classes undertook the challenge of creating a multilingual intercultural learning tool, using the technology of our diversophy® games. Their aim was to assist migrants and newcomers to Finland along with their Finnish hosts and neighbors to acculturate to each other. Once their New Horizons game was completed, they proceeded to market it and even facilitate events with it in schools and community groups, as well as distributing it free of cost online to interested users. Most recently they have also packaged it in a sturdier professional version.

Simultaneously this year, I was invited to work with and coach a smaller team of Intercultural Management Masters students from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. Four students from four different countries fulfilled their wish to create an up-to-date game aimed at both instructing and reducing confusion and fear around the issues of Gender & Sexual Identity, which are being loudly addressed and often contested around the world. Within the semester they were able to produce one of the largest games (300 cards) we have ever published. This entire project was conducted virtually and I met the students face-to-face towards the very end of the project.

The point of this post is not to promote the games – we and they are doing that in a variety of places – but to encourage my colleagues to engage the present generation with opportunities for them to exercise their fresh insights, skills, and energies to produce what is needed in their environments and ours. In other words, real-world learning with real-world impact. Many in academia are hungry for new strategies for hands-on learning. What many of us are doing in our consulting, training, and coaching with daily in a matter-of-fact way might open doors for such discovery. As one who has now enjoyed interns from 17 different countries in a score of years, I am constantly delighted with the now millennial life I am privileged to share.

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