Have you ever been in a room where all people try to communicate, but nobody understands each other?
Intercultural competencies not only refer to speaking the same language as a person from another country but also to holding the key to opening the door to effective communication. Discover this power and how it can improve your interactions like never before.
Let’s break down the main six aspects of intercultural competencies, simple and practical tips and strategies for practicing them:
- Cultural Awareness: Understanding your cultural background and being open to learning about others. Tip: Learn about different cultures through books, videos, documentaries, cultural events, and interacting with individuals from various backgrounds.
- Effective Communication: Using respectful language and being aware of nonverbal communication. Tip: Watch videos of people doing various gestures and facial expressions, which can change across cultures.
- Empathy: Imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes. Tip: Practice understanding people perspectives by asking open-ended questions to your friends and relatives and try to guess their emotions when they tell you a story.
- Flexibility: Embracing change. Tip: Challenge yourself and try to practice a custom from another country that you have never done before. For example, eat a foreign dish or listen to traditional music.
- Conflict Resolution: Finding mutually acceptable solutions. Tip: Learn and practice a win-win negotiation strategy.
- Respect: Treating others with empathy. Tip: Include people from other countries while speaking. If you are in a new country, learn their language.
In addition to the previous components, UNESCO (2020) suggests promoting listening skills, attitudes of curiosity, and critical cultural awareness to deepen knowledge of cultures.
This month, our Global Education initiative is dedicated to fostering the development of intercultural competencies through our engaging summer camps at YWCA. Participants will dive into stories that highlight cultural essential elements, such as cultivating self-awareness, fostering respect, nurturing reflexivity skills, building empathy, and promoting awareness of others. In addition, a variety of activities will be offered to encourage both individual and group reflection, providing students with valuable opportunities to apply and strengthen their intercultural skills.
Moreover, Global Education students enhance their intercultural competencies through activities such as story circles or talkative circles. These circles bring individuals from diverse backgrounds together to share their personal experiences and explore both similarities and differences. In story circles, participants can engage in different creative expressions, including writing, painting, and drawing. We encourage children to take their time to reflect before responding to the activities. Additionally, we promote strategies such as creating, matching, and identifying images to facilitate sharing ideas and experiences.
Story circles are not limited to just teachers and students or discussions among children. They can also involve adults such as administrators, parents, and members of the community. These circles recognize everyone has relevant aspects to contribute and reflect upon. Furthermore, cultural awareness begins with recognizing and respecting the inherent dignity of everyone.
Through participation in these activities and the understanding of inner dignity, students at YWCA develop and strengthen their intercultural competencies. By engaging in meaningful exchanges and embracing diverse perspectives, they can broaden their understanding of different cultures and foster mutual respect and appreciation.
Remember, developing intercultural competencies requires consistent effort and a commitment to lifelong learning. Embrace the opportunity to learn from others, celebrate diversity, and continue to expand your knowledge through active engagement and reflection.
How you can practice:
Watch these videos:
- Developing Intercultural Competencies through Story Circles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQcA-FKWqg&t=19s
- Identity and values for Kids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om3INBWfoxY&t=74s
Play this Interactive activity about intercultural sensitivity: https://create.kahoot.it/details/af031935-2934-4ae6-a2ec-513008f49e1e
- Discuss with your family and friends and create and implement an action plan: https://www.casieonline.org/post/creating-caring-cultures-part-2-actions-for-nurturing-intercultural-understanding
By Andrea Clavijo
Learn more about our Global Education Program today!