Exploring Global Citizenship: Exchanging Experiences with different cultures

Report: Exploring Global Citizenship – Exchanging Experiences with different Cultures

2nd June 2012, Seidengasse, Vienna

After our first successful panel discussion on Exploring Global Citizenship, the “Youth” UPF Austria in Cooperation with AIESEC – the worldwide largest student organization, organized a Youth Workshop with the topic “Exchanging Experiences with different Cultures” on the 2nd of June 2012. Around 20 “Youth” participated at the WS and a good and comfortable atmosphere could be formed.

In the beginning, we had a short introduction about UPF and AIESEC to get an understanding about the key values of the organizations. This was followed by an ice breaker game, the “Worldgame” by Elisabeth Napetschnig. The participants represented the whole world population and their task was dividing themselves in the different continents, for example how the population is divided, as well as the wealth and energy consumption.

Next, Stefan Ossman, who studied international development and is involved in the “buddy” project since 2006, a project to help students who come from abroad to study in Austria, gave the first interactive input. The task was to write on the paper on the back of another person what we think the answer to different questions is, for example, what type of music the person likes to listen to, with which famous person he/she would like to spend an evening with, etc. The aim was to show that we judge people how they look, how they dress, etc. but sometimes we judge wrongly. Therefore we need to understand that culture and values is something we learned through our parents, teachers, peers, etc. and for intercultural communication it’s important to look over those boundaries. On the other hand he mentioned, “It’s possible to take an Austrian out of Austria but it’s impossible totake Austria out of an Austrian.”

The second lecture on the topic “Becoming a Global Citizen” was given by Emma Sawatzky and by Sakunika Wewalaarachchi, interns by AIESEC for the project “Colors of the World”. Emma lives right now in Canada, but she grew up as well in Japan and Germany. She talked about some key terms such as Globalization. Respect, understanding, Identity and believes as well as putting yourself in a multicultural environment are keys for becoming a global citizen. The main points for her for a becoming a global citizen is: thirst of knowledge, understanding the importance of socialization and an active desire to make a positive impact on society. Another point she mentioned was, “Don’t judge the book by its cover”, as well as we shouldn’t apply stereotype or prejudices about others, even when some of them are true.

Saku continued by saying that we have different values and believes and that will influence our thoughts about the world. She gave some examples about Singapore, as it is a country of many different cultures. Moreover in her opinion a Global Citizen should respect diversity and shouldn’t judge about other cultures and need actual interaction with people to get to know a culture, “You can’t Google a culture”. Last but not least she said that one needs passion and curiosity for the world and then integrate the experience in oneself otherwise we will lose them again.

We continued with a World Café discussion, led by Ewald Schenkermayr, with the following topics: Which skills and abilities are needed for a Global Citizen/Obstacles/Pros and Cons of a multicultural society and if a Global Culture possible is and how to build it. Lots of ideas and opinions were collected and were presented in the end of the WS. During the intercultural buffet and breaks it was possible to get to know each other better and to discuss even more about the topics.

The evening came to a close by cultural presentation about Canada, Tunisia by Houda Balti, Bosnia by Dženana Baščelija and Singapore and last but not least, a Japanese music piece was played by Harue Peham and Yoshiko Naguchi.

Though the interaction from the participants and the input of the lecturer, one can assume that everyone could gain something through this WS and understand their role as a citizen of this world. To sum it up it was enriching for everyone and a step forward and the goal is to take action steps for further events like that.

Thanks to everyone who made a contribution.

Marlies Haider


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