Senior Professional Training at the Children's Village

23.03.2016 - 11:59 | Martina Schmid

Already for the third time, the «Senior Professional Training» takes place in the Children's Village in Trogen. The program offers a platform for global exchange of knowledge and experience to leading persons from the partner organisations of the Pestalozzi Children's Foundation. Monika Veljanoska from Macedonia gives a report.

Group picture with the participants of the «Senior Professional Training» © Stiftung Kinderdorf Pestalozzi

I came in Pestalozzi village as a representative of Macedonian non-governmental organization called Association for democratic initiatives (ADI) from Gostivar, a multicultural town located in Western Macedonia. During the Senior Professional Training with the theme «Running educational projects in a multi-cultural and multi-religious country» I had the unique opportunity to learn a lot of new things as well as to interact and live with people coming from diverse cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds, coming from Thailand, Serbia, Moldova, El Salvador and Macedonia.

A country of diversity

Macedonia is a country of a multicultural, multiethnic and multireligious structure of population. The integration of all ethnic communities and the achievement of good, working and collaborative interethnic relations are very high on state political agenda. In achieving that agenda, Macedonia has developed policies and legislations directed towards inclusiveness of communities and interethnic cohesion, but their implementation is still questionable and remains a great challenge. The civil sector in Macedonia is very active in that field. The organisation I work for has a lot of experience in the implementation of projects which, in a direct or indirect manner, have a lot to do with multicultural policies, strengthening interethnic coexistence, youth education in intercultural communications and so on. This is where I find my motivation to be participant in this training.

«I had the unique opportunity to learn a lot of new things as well as to interact and live with people coming from diverse cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds.»

Monika Veljanoska – Participant of the «Senior Professional Training»

Adapting to other cultures

Working in a culturally different environment is always a challenge. Learning about cultures, becoming aware of cultural differences and having competences in cross-cultural communication are a must for this contemporary world with increasing economic globalization. It is also compulsory for civil society activists, teachers, managers etc., so they can adjust to a new (or not well known) cultural environment and carry out successful assignments. In order to be functional in a different culture, we need to appreciate its values, norms, beliefs, and behaviour patterns and learn to adjust to them as much as possible.

Inside the Senior Professional Training

The Senior Professional Training started in a very interactive manner with the presentation of different conceptualizations about culture and its manifestations. Then we saw that there are numerous attempts to define the meaning of culture in literature, too. One of the various models using to define culture is the «Iceberg» model. It’s a metaphor used to describe the visible and non-visible features of culture and to identify its behavioural, emotional and cognitive components. Culture also includes material and symbolic artefacts and their meaning differ from one culture to another. After clarifying the importance of nonverbal and verbal communication we came to define what a multicultural team is and what advantages it brings. But operating a team with genuinely different people also comes with a number of challenges that must be overcome to create a productive work environment. Managing a diverse team is an on-going, continuing, process that needs various intercultural skills. It’s important to create an inclusive environment, which is «safe for differences» and maximizes the full potential of all, in a context where everyone benefits.

Professional and personal enrichment

The Senior Professional Training was a great opportunity for my professional development and an excellent experience. As an added value of the training were the new friendships, exploring other cultures (for example some aspects of Moldavian traditions, showing respect in Thailand and hospitality in Serbia, Macedonia and El Salvador) and visiting places in Switzerland. Also, the Pestalozzi team showed great professionalism in organising and managing the whole training and the trainer of the programme was rich with experience, comprehension and patience. Now I am looking forward to the new challenges that this Senior Professional Training brings and share my experiences in my working place.