KSG Apeldoorn High School Visits Wittenborg University with Cultural Diversity the Key Theme of Discussion.
During the presentation, staff focused on 3 different aspects: diversity, culture and cultural differences. To break the ice, the high-school pupils were tasked with guessing the origins of Wittenborg's facilitators. This exercise proved to be a little tricky, since it was hard to pinpoint the exact origins. However, in a second exercise and with the support of a world map, students immediately recognised the countries. Staff member Nadia commented: “I was positively surprised how quickly the students reacted once we showed them the map”. The facilitators then proceeded to take the students on a journey of their own personal lives.
Sinan, a Turkish staff member in the admissions department, mentioned a few culture shocks since he moved to Europe. For instance, he recalls how impressed he was, that cars stop at a zebra crossing. He argues “In Turkey this is impossible, cars don’t stop for you and you have to be very careful when crossing the street." Through a video, students could experience the different ways of tackling zebra crossings. Sinan then explained how culture comes in every shape and form and can be seen in individual clothes, religion and food. Students were then asked about dinner times. Since most of the students were Dutch the answer was 6 or 5 PM, but when Sinan asked the Algerian and Malaysian staff members, the students were surprised that dinner would start at 8 or even 9 PM.
Dutch students were asked to explain the Dutch culture to the presenters - then there was silence in the room. What is culture and how do you define it? It is not easy to define one’s culture, since it usually involves routines that seem normal to the individual but could be interpreted as odd for an outsider.
The group was curious about the facilitators' most irritating cultural experience in the Netherlands: “rain” and how often people speak about the weather. The students were intrigued by the stories the presenters shared and were very curious about cultural differences, especially that we have over 80 nationalities at Wittenborg - a truly global environment for the high-school pupils to learn from.
The KSG Apeldoorn Dutch students hardly needed to travel very far to learn about Malaysian, Algerian and Turkish culture combined in one session, just a short walk. Here at Wittenborg the global setting is truly amazing, where students learn how to approach cultural differences and avoid stereotypes.
by Romeissa Laib
©Wittenborg University Press