This post is part of a series about teaching in the International Business Bachelor’s Programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences from 2015-2020.
In 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, I was one of the lecturers involved in the ICP Week (Intercultural Project Week) at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This fun 4 day programme introduced International Business Bachelor students to the concept of culture.
Coming from very diverse backgrounds, many of the students are already of culture, but this week aimed to help them to be better aware of the importance and understand applications in a business context.
The first day started with students meeting their classmates, and with some fun activities to get to know each other. We also watched part of a documentary – Meet the Natives – and discussed what it means to be a native, what culture means, and how cultural differences are dealt with. A reflection report asked what role culture played in interaction and collaboration with classmates.
The TED Talk “The danger of a single story” was shown and students reflected on what this “danger” is.
Business Case study assignment
T-mobile was one of the companies that came to talk about the effect of culture in business, and students were challenged to make a short video for a campaign which explored the visible and invisible cultural layers that characterised the target group including:
- understanding the culture of the target group
- avoiding stereotypes
- cultural dimensions (do’s and don’ts)
Developing Cultural Awareness
Students played a “serious game” called Diversophy to continue looking at the many aspect of culture in a professional as well as broader setting.
Next was an intercultural pursuit through the building, where lecturers were stationed in various locations, and teams needed to collect and solve clues.
Discussing identity and diversity
This session was about zooming into our own cultural identity and remembering that cultural differences don’t only occur amongst people from different countries, but also among people in the same country or company or school. However we focussed on similarities that unite us.
The Hague University of Applied Sciences is fortunate to have an increadibly diverse student base from around the world. This activity grouped students together from a similar national background. They then gave a presentation to other students who may be going on a study abroad or internship in their home country. They were given the tip to try to avoid generalisations and stereotypes, but still prepare a foreigner to better understand appropriate manners and behaviours for example. Some guidelines were given including:
- Concepts of time
- Clothes and food
- Ethics, values and laws
- Festivals & Holidays
- Body language, gestures and eye contact
- Personal space
- Families and raising children
- Concept of fairness
- Religious beliefs
Real life stories from those who have worked in multicultural business environments always adds depth to the understanding. One example was Manuela Damant from Shell.
Experiencing Culture: International Food Court
The final day of the Intercultural Project week is always fun – an international food court. Many of us are already familiar with a range of dishes from around the world, but it’s even better to experience them with those who grew up in that country. We also talked about the role of food within a culture.
I greatly enjoyed being part of these Intercultural project weeks. They deepened my own understanding of myself as well as my students from all around the world.