• 20 februari
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'Intercultural awareness' makes students and teachers feel at home at Fontys

Campus Venlo - photographer: Bas Gijsehart.

The Fontys campus in Venlo exudes an international atmosphere immediately upon entering due to the many foreign students walking around. Student coach Madeleine Goedhart works there at Fontys International Business and is actively committed to the theme of inclusion, of which 'intercultural awareness' is an important part. 'We try to promote that in all kinds of ways, it helps teachers and students.'

In the Venlo region, it is no surprise that many students come from Germany. 'We would like to be a sticky campus for them,' Madeleine explains. 'That's why it's important that we make those students feel at home. We are working hard on that.' There are also many different nationalities within the teaching team. 'My colleagues come from all over the world, like Germany, Canada, Romania or China.

Madeleine Goedhart
Madeleine Goedhart

'Working in an international team is enormously enriching for all of us. So the working language with us is simply English, we don't even think about it', says Madeleine. But just speaking the same language is not enough to be truly inclusive, she says.

Train teachers

So intercultural awareness must be increased, but how? In the first instance it is a matter of awareness, Madeleine believes. 'We started by training our teachers. They learned to ask themselves questions such as: where do I come from? What are my cultural norms and values? How do I learn best?'

As a result, the teachers gained the understanding that cultural awareness is more than just nationality. It involves numerous aspects, such as gender, age, religion or study. And as a result, they can better explain and learn to deal with students' behavior in certain situations.'

Culture of C's

Madeleine gives an example. 'Students from other countries are often taught in the traditional way, with a teacher in front of the class. He decides what happens. At FIBS, on the other hand, we work with projects, where students are allowed to figure out for themselves how they want to work on an assignment. And they are also allowed to address their coaches by their first name. That sometimes takes some getting used to for international students. Or look at the culture of C's among Dutch students; in Germany you go for an A.'

According to Madeleine, it is important to know these differences so that you can take them into account. 'Because,' she explains, 'also within the three FIBS programs, students and colleagues work together in projects. That's important, because in this field you can't do without good cooperation and communication.'

Personal development

What do students notice about the theme of intercultural awareness? 'We want to make it as familiar as possible for (international) students. That's why in our program you are assigned a mentor for the rest of your study career from the first semester. With us, this is called the Personal Professional Development coach (PPD coach).'

During the conversations with the coach, everything comes together: the student reflects not only on the project of the past semester, but also on his own personal development and intercultural cooperation with both fellow students and the professional field. 'This provides a lot of self-insight that comes in handy, for example, during the mandatory internship abroad.'

Merging students

In addition to teacher training and a PPD coach, the program also organizes after-school activities. 'With the Global Lounge, we bring international students together by organizing trips, karaoke nights and St. Nicholas celebrations. And soon we will start the Cultural Café, in cooperation with Fontys Academy of the Arts from Tilburg. We hope that international and Dutch students will eventually merge.'

According to Madeleine, it is necessary to increase attention to inclusion anyway. 'Listen to each other, engage in conversation and learn more about each other. That way you create understanding and mutual communication improves.'

Develop yourself

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Inclusive communication in teaching

This in-depth training course (four half days) provides practical tools to enhance your intercultural competences in a classroom or coaching situation with students from a different culture or background.

Four half days
22 april
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Author: TextVast