So it is time for those New year resolutions which we don’t tend to stick to. Maybe we have too many? Maybe we don’t share them with anyone so that makes them easier to break? In this show I am going to be exploring just one idea. Maybe, just maybe, if we stick to one idea then we have a better chance of succeeding. And that one idea is about being a good neighbour. How about it? Worth a try?
Of course I am thinking about the massive refugee movements in 2015 but I and a small group of people from Canada, Australia and Lithuania worked on this towards the end of 2015 and we quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn’t just about refugees but about connecting with other people in your immediate surroundings no matter who they are or where they come from.
If you are listening to this podcast then maybe you are interested in making your class or training room more culturally responsive. You can read more about the 5-day residential course we offer in Denmark and elsewhere on this website. This could be funded as professional development courses under Erasmus+ mobility in Europe. You can find out more by signing up for the Teaching Culture newsletter .
In fact you don’t have to specify the exact course your colleagues will attend in the Erasmus+ application. You only need to have an idea about where it will be geographically so that the proposed budget covers the expenses. The deadline for applications is February 2nd. So not much time left! Do get in touch if you have any questions about that.
Social learning for Social Impact was a free course offered by McGill University in Montreal. The topic was social enterprise and the idea was not just to learn about it in the abstract but to actually work in a group on a real project at the same time as going through the course materials. Of course, I suggested a project around the idea of teaching culture but when the members of the group started discussing ideas we realised that we wanted to work with the stage before someone steps into a classroom; that is when you first arrive in a new area and how you are received.
absolutely sewn up
One of the group was Indre from Lithuania who had been in the original Teaching Culture project back in 2006. Another was Monique in Montreal in Canada and the final member of the group was Rose in Australia who was already working on an interesting new project focusing on refugee women by trying to include them in the local community by giving them sewing skills. Let’s hear more how learning to sew could help housebound women. Our fingers are tightly crossed that Rose gets the funding that she has applied for in Australia as this sounds like a really worthwhile project.
Back at the McGill course, what we ended up with was a short game where you can either be the new neighbour or the old-established neighbour and then you have a series of choices about how much you get in contact with each other.
In the game we included some short videos that Monique recorded with colleagues who had migrated to Canada about their first impressions.
Listen to Haytham, a Syrian who arrived in Canada over 20 years ago and Laurentia who arrived from Romania 12 years ago as they talk about some aspects of being absolutely new.
Meanwhile Monique had been to TEDX Montreal and told us about a very interesting talk about communication without words. There are some really good ideas about how to communicate effectively so listen carefully! You can watch the whole talk on YouTube.
One of the things which may be a barrier for newcomers in a western culture such as Australia is the issue of looking people in the eye. During one of our meetings Rose told us what she had experienced with Asian people coming to Australia.
Monique talks about why it is mainly churches which sponsor refugees to come to live in Canada.
So Rose produced a leaflet giving some ideas on making the first steps to getting in contact with your neighbour and Monique interviewed some of her foreign colleagues while Indre found some interesting videos and I put them altogether into a game called Good Neighbours.
Thank you to Indre, Rose and Monique for working with me over the last three months on the topic of being a good neighbour.
One of the best results of our project came during our last meeting when Rose talked about seeing an elderly woman while out walking her dog. Apparently Rose often sees this woman while dog walking but that particular evening the woman seemed upset so Rose stopped and asked if there was anything she could do to help. And Rose told us that if she had not been working on our good neighbour project she would not even have considered stopping!
So how about it? How many people do you know in your immediate neighbourhood? Anybody who could do with a welcoming word? A helping hand? If we have motivated even one person to get in contact with a new neighbour then we will be very happy.
All the best for 2016! Don’t forget to sign up to the Teaching Culture newsletter full of tips, latest news and other developments So that’s it for this show! We’ll be posting on the Facebook page. The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on 5th February. So until then stay tuned and don’t forget to listen very carefully!