Published on March 16, 2009
emanate ISSUE 01 February 2008 The Magazine of the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association Fast Forward! The Rocky Road Photo-Competition The First General To Cultural Images of Assembly of the EMA Understanding Interculturalism Between Cultures Connecting Cultures Through Education
Introduction Students and alumni, EMA: here’s your new magazine! An Important Welcome to the ﬁrst edition of “Emanate” – the new in the Puzzle magazine for students and alumni from Erasmus Mundus programmes. The Emanate team is proud to say that this magazine is almost entirely written and produced by stu- dents and alumni. Since the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association (EMA) ﬁrst had the idea of start- ing a member magazine it’s been a high priority that the I am very happy to introduce this ﬁrst magazine should focus on the things that students and issue of “Emanate”. This is the evidence alumni care about. And what is a better way to ensure this that the Erasmus Mundus Students and than to invite Erasmus Mundus students and graduates to Alumni Association - EMA for short - write themselves? A big “thanks!” goes to all our contribu- has come a long way in building a strong tors for their efforts! network for its members. Almost all ar- ticles and photos come from students The theme of this issue of Emanate is “between cultures”. and alumni themselves, really making Since studying in other cultures is what Erasmus Mundus this new magazine their own forum. is all about we thought this would be the perfect theme for the ﬁrst edition. So did other members of EMA – people I am pleased by the fact that this maga- have been very creative in the ways they have interpreted zine and other EMA activities are in line the theme. Find the articles on “between cultures” from with the European Commission’s visions for Erasmus Mun- page 8 – we hope you will enjoy reading them! dus. In the second phase of the programme - which we are about to launch - we try to marry continuity and innovation, On page 22 you will ﬁnd the ﬁrst EMA photo competi- seeking at once to promote excellence, the attractiveness of tion. In October last year EMA announced a photo compe- European higher education and inter-university cooperation tition and now you get the chance to help pick the winner! with third country universities. Solidarity and excellence can Have a look at the photos and go to www.em-a.eu, log- live together and positively inﬂuence each other. We want in and vote for the one you think should win. Thanks to to honour the „Mundus“ dimension of the programme by everyone who sent in their photos. We are grateful for all grouping, under the Erasmus label, all the European Com- the interest that students and alumni have shown in the mission‘s initiatives linked to the mobility of EU and non-EU competition. graduate students and doctoral candidates worldwide. We chose the name “Emanate” for two reasons. Firstly, One of the main aims of the programme has been to create it includes the name EMA and secondly, “emanate” means strong and long-lasting bonds between Europe and the rest to “send forth” or to “ﬂow”. Together with the website of the world. The establishment of a network of students www.em-a.eu and the EMA Newsletter we would like the and alumni is without doubt an important piece in the puz- magazine to keep information ﬂowing between members zle. From the many contributions students and alumni have of EMA. EMA is a forum for Erasmus Mundus students and made to the magazine it is clear that there is an interest graduates to meet – for networking, for help and for fun. – and a need – for initiatives of this sort. In the production of the magazine at hand we have shared Last year in October the ﬁrst EMA General Assembly took this vision. We hope that you will enjoy the outcome. place, another example that the association is growing and The Emanate Team The Emanate Team are (from left to right) Rikke Skovgaard Andersen, EMA Magazine Communicator, Denmark | Michael Eshiemokhai, Nigeria | Angela Johnston, Canada | Jasmine Kang, India | Gregor Lichtfuss, Germany | Zachary Rothstein, US | Mario Pardo Segovia, Spain | Valentina Villoria, Venezuela | Luca Zanaica, Italy 2 emanate | ISSUE 01
Table of Contents Table of Contents Piece News from EMA reaching more and more students and Idealist and Realist: Hanneke Luth, President of EMA ...................................................... 4 alumni from Erasmus Mundus courses. The First General Assembly of the EMA: Fast Forward! .................................................... 5 I was present at this event and had So What Could Be the Next Step? Some advice from the EMA Jobs Team ............... 6 the opportunity to witness the elec- Erasmus Mundus Takes off in China....................................................................................... 7 tion of the association’s ﬁrst president and steering committee and to talk to Between Cultures students and alumni, who have become ambassadors of the programme in their own countries. It was inspiring to ex- Living in-between - One student’s personal perceptions of culture ............................. 8 perience the enthusiasm of everyone Serendipity in a Multicultural World - Short surprising moments................................ 9 present. Many great ideas were brought Two years of Ambition: Europe in Asian Eyes ...................................................................10 forward at the General Assembly and I Camembert with Chopsticks: The Rocky Road to Cultural Understanding ...............12 look forward to following the progress The Many Shades of Erasmus Mundus ..............................................................................13 of the EMA as the Commission contin- Culture Is an Iceberg .................................................................................................................14 ues to support interesting projects. Oslo to Tampere to Aveiro .......................................................................................................16 The Internationalisation of Higher Education ...................................................................18 The magazine that you now hold in What It Means to Be “Trini” - A new look at the Caribbean .........................................19 your hands, with its articles and photos The Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 .............................................................................20 sent in by people from all continents, is truly a part of Erasmus Mundus life. I Photo Competition wish all readers an enjoyable time div- ing into “Emanate”. The First EMA Photo Competition - Images of Interculturalism ..................................22 Sincerely, Higher Education News A New Round of Erasmus Mundus Begins - An interview with Programme Man- ager Vito Borrelli ........................................................................................................................24 Ján Figel‘ Success Stories Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth Addressing the World - Students deliver their message about Conservation and Mutual Respect to delegates from 172 countries....................................................25 Your Say Steps toward Ending Discrimination in India ....................................................................27 Globalisation in Education ......................................................................................................28 Literacy - More than Reading and Writing .......................................................................30 Working toward Academic and Personal Growth in EUROAQUAE ..............................31 3
News from EMA Idealist and Realist: Hanneke Luth, President of EMA By Tyler Henderson, member of the EMA Newsletter Team In October 2007, the ﬁrst EMA Gen- a lot of freedom and ﬂexibility. But, she eral Assembly elected Hanneke Luth to says, it is also a lot of hard work, “no a two-year term as its ﬁrst president. doubt about that.“ Hanneke, a 2005 graduate of the Eras- mus Mundus European Master in Law During her ﬁrst degree programme, and Economics, spent periods of study Hanneke decided to take a year off to at Erasmus University Rotterdam (the live and work in Asia. For six months she Netherlands), the University of Bologna was involved with Jagran, an organisa- (Italy) and Ghent University (Belgium). tion that raises awareness about social While at Erasmus University, Hanneke issues like drugs, dowries, hygiene and (who is Dutch) also spent two months at religious tolerance in New Delhi through the University of California at Berkeley pantomime theatre. She then travelled (USA) during research for her master’s throughout India, Thailand, Laos and thesis. Japan, meeting interesting people and On her experience at three different Eu- seeing amazing architecture, art and ropean universities Hanneke reﬂected nature. She enjoyed being a tourist, but that, “universities are bureaucratic in- could not outweigh her work experience stitutions, that does not change when in New Delhi. As a European she realised you cross a border. Making a change, she could “never fully be part of Indian Hanneke Luth getting things done fast, all that is dif- culture, but working in the slums was ﬁcult. However, academia is a forum as close as I could come to it.“ Han- where people come together to expand neke feels that her nine months in Asia lot of things will prove difﬁcult. We are a young and very knowledge and skills, discuss, broaden changed both how she sees the world ambitious organisation with little expertise. However, we are their views and meet people. All univer- and its inhabitants and her personal intelligent and highly skilled people, committed to the EMA. sities in Europe perform that function. priorities, making her mature more than The EMA is an organisation with a huge potential, bringing People in academia, especially in Eras- ﬁve years at university. together very interesting, intelligent and motivated young mus Mundus, are all opinionated peo- people, determined to fulﬁl their goals in life and make the ple. They are not easily pushed around. Hanneke has been involved with the EMA work. It’s great to be part of that group. I really am hon- The participants are not superﬁcial; they EMA from the start, serving as commu- oured to be able to represent this organisation, and facilitate all have their views and want to share nicator for the EMA Jobs Team on the its processes. These next years of the EMA are critical. I am them. Spending a year with these in- EMA Launch Committee. She ran for convinced that we can set the EMA off to a good start!“ teresting and stimulating people is the President of the EMA because she saw most amazing thing about doing an Er- that the organisation needed someone In her free time, Hanneke enjoys theatre, a passion of hers asmus Mundus course.“ to chair meetings and keep track of de- since age twelve. Hanneke has acted in, directed and pro- velopments, as well as to have a face duced plays, and helped organise theatre festivals. She likes Hanneke is now a Ph.D. candidate in to serve as representative and contact cycling and once cycled 1800 km from Rotterdam to Huesca, the European Doctorate in Law and Eco- person for the EMA. She felt she could a small Spanish town just south of the Pyrenees. She also nomics, a multiple degree programme be effective in the role because she is a swims regularly, runs and goes spinning. In general, she likes between Erasmus University Rotter- person who focuses on the big picture to undertake new things and explore. She is not interested dam (the Netherlands), the University rather than on details, while still recog- in holiday resorts and says she would prefer to climb Mount of Bologna (Italy) and the University of nising that details are important. Kenya. South America, Australia and New Zealand are next on Hamburg (Germany). Her research fo- her travel wish list. With her vast international experience and cuses on the economic effects of con- Hanneke is both a realist and a dream- ambition to know the world, Erasmus Mundus alumni around sumer protection. Hanneke enjoys being er. About her term as President she says, the globe might be sharing coffee with Hanneke at their fa- a Ph.D. candidate because it allows her “I want to be honest; I am convinced a vourite local café some time soon. 4 emanate | ISSUE 01
News from EMA The First General Assembly of the EMA: Fast Forward! By Hanneke Luth, President of the EMA On October 12, 2007, in Brussels, a long-anticipated event allow the EMA to make great progress plenary session. Five nominees had ex- took place: the ﬁrst General Assembly (GA) of the Erasmus in the year to come. pressed their interest in the position by Mundus Students and Alumni Association. The majority of the The members of the GA were also asked responding to a call on the EMA website Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses were represented at the to elect a Steering Committee and Pres- placed on August 1st 2007. GA by current students and alumni from inside and outside ident of the EMA, and to vote on the As a result of these elections, the ﬁrst Europe. Since June 2006, following the launch of the EMA, Statute that has been developed over Steering Committee of the EMA is about 27 people have been working hard at helping the EMA the last year. After distributing the Stat- now composed of: grow and develop. Several initiatives have been set up that ute in hard copy so that everyone was • Jennifer Lenhart, Promotion promote the interests of all EM students and alumni. While able to read it, there were several criti- • Sandra Oberhollenzer, Jobs more needs to be done and perfected, all EMA members agree: cisms of the content. The Steering Com- • Chunyu Liang, Conferences the EMA has great potential. mittee agreed to take all criticism into • Rikke Skovgaard Andersen, Magazine As designated by the Statute, the GA represents the parlia- account when proposing changes and • Ross Zhongliang Hu, Newsletter mentary power over the EMA; it is the most important organ amendments to the Statute in the next • Matthias Herkt, Policy of the EMA. At the GA, which is to be held yearly, representa- GA, with the help of the Policy Team. • Taghi Paksima, IT tives of EM courses can express their opinions, criticism and After that, the Statute was adopted by a • Hanneke Luth, President approval, vote, elect, change and add to policy. The represent- large majority. The Steering Committee wishes to ex- atives that formed this year’s GA took this responsibility seri- The Steering Committee is composed press their gratitude to all GA members. ously. Contributing to lively discussions and expressing their of seven Team Coordinators and a Representatives that are so eager and opinions, both positive and negative, the GA members pro- President. The Team Coordinators were enthusiastic, actively working together vided important insights on improving the EMA. And as deeds elected by the respective teams in team to promote the interests of all students speak louder than words, most of the GA representatives also parallel sessions. Every active team and alumni of EM, hold a great promise decided to play an even more active role in the advancement member could participate in the elec- for the future! of the EMA by joining a Service Team. The EMA Service Teams tions as either a nominee or voter. The EMA, fast forward! now consist of over 80 active members, a number that will presidential elections took place in a 5
News from EMA So What Could Be the Next Step? Some advice from the EMA Jobs Team By Sandra Oberhollenzer, Jobs Team Communicator Getting what you want 3. Remember, we live in a culturally di- verse place: The way in which a cov- Taking the ﬁrst step to ﬁnd your dream er letter, resume or similar is written job, internship, PhD or other position varies from country to country. Talk can seem daunting without a little to a local about what is considered The EMA Jobs Team is guidance: Here are some hints to help standard information and format here to provide the means you out! (or even better, ask for an example!) before completing your application. to increasing education And remember that not all countries 1. Use resources available at your uni- will be happy with (or even accept) and employment opportu- versity: Career advisers at your uni- an application written in English. versity are able to give invaluable nities worldwide to EMA information to you - from how to Helping you look act in an interview to the when and members and expand where of career fairs within your For a step in the right direction, check ﬁeld or even contacts in the place out the “Helping you look” section on knowledge within indus- you wish to apply to and more. the EMA website”s Jobs section at: try and higher education www.em-a.eu/job-vacancies-and-phd- scholarships.html . institutes about EMA. 2. Apply speciﬁcally for the position: Remember that three well-written The EMA Jobs Team is also interested We are not a recruitment job-speciﬁc applications is worth in how you feel we could help you as more than 100 photo copies. Im- an EMA member. If you have any com- agency, but we can help in portant things to remember are to ments, information or opportunities research the company or research available that you would be of interest other ways. institute you are applying for: show to EMA members with respect to em- that you are interested in what they ployment or further studies placements are doing and give speciﬁc exam- please contact us at: ples. firstname.lastname@example.org. 6 emanate | ISSUE 01
News from EMA Erasmus Mundus Takes off in China Chinese EM alumni promote the programme in Beijing / First EMA regional chapter successfully launched By Sebastian Popp, ICUnet.AG, EMA Service Provider The Europe Higher Education Fair (EHEF) in Beijing, October 20th-21st, received valuable ﬁrst-hand support: Chinese EMA members actively partici- pated in the exhibition and helped to promote Erasmus Mundus. The two-day Beijing Europe Higher Edu- cation Fair was held as a special guest event of the China Education Expo at the International Trade Exhibit Centre in China‘s capital. An initiative of the Eu- ropean Union, the event was carried out by a consortium composed of Campus- France, DAAD, Nufﬁc and British Council. More than 150 European universities and several national institutions and agencies presented themselves at the EHEF. Fifteen EMA members from China par- ticipated in the fair, assisting the Euro- pean Commission in promoting Erasmus Mundus. They shared their experiences studying in Europe with fair visitors (prospective students and parents) and answered questions directed at students at the Commission‘s Erasmus Mundus presentations. Chinese EM alumni and representa- tives of the European Commission’s Executive Agency, who took part in Moreover, the EMA, its structure and The EMA regional event was held on October 21st in Beijing the Beijing event. its objectives were introduced to pro- with a get-together and a banquet dinner. 19 Erasmus Mun- spective students in a presentation dus alumni and representatives of the European Commission‘s and EMA promotion materials were Executive Agency joined the meeting which saw the founda- distributed among fair visitors. The ap- tion of the EMA Chinese Chapter. proach to supporting Higher Education The new institution wants to provide a platform for network- promotional activities by letting alumni ing among Chinese Erasmus Mundus alumni under the um- present their experiences turned out brella of EMA. In the meeting, different tasks working toward to be a promising model that might be this goal were assigned among the participants. successfully applied in future activities. The establishment of the Chinese Chapter marks an important Coinciding with the Beijing EHEF, EMA step in the development of the association and is likely to established its Chinese Chapter thus serve as a successful example for future regional EMA institu- founding the ﬁrst regional institution tions. Participants agreed that regional events will bring sub- under the umbrella of EMA. stantial beneﬁts to the entire EMA community. 7
Between Cultures Between Cultures: Living in-between One student’s personal perceptions of culture Despite the broad popularity of the word culture and the endless list of en- tries in any number of dictionaries and encyclopaedias, it is still difﬁcult to de- ﬁne such a ubiquitous and all-inclusive phenomenon precisely. I am not going to go into detail and ponder on culture as such. We can easily take any of the tons of books grappling with the ques- tion and ﬁnd thousands of answers and we will still have no fewer questions. I would rather share my personal percep- tions of culture and how these percep- tions change, if ever, when I encounter other cultures. What does culture mean, how does it inﬂuence us and is there a way out of the in-between cultural space? First of all, only through the encounter Yuliya Yurchuk enjoys in the experience of moving “in-between“ cultures dur- with a new culture do I become aware other countries I have been able to see the difference on a ing her Erasmus Mundus experience. of the culture as a whole. I can even multilevel scale. But I do not face only differences, I also ﬁnd feel the culture, I can hear its dialect, I many similarities. While communicating with my friends from can see its hues and I can taste its dif- Poland, India or Germany I can see that we share more com- ference. An abstract notion of culture mon interests and common views than I have with my fellow takes a palpable shape with distinctive countrymen. A distanced view of my own country allows me features and characters. Some of them to see some of the problems in my country from a different are so alluring that I want to make them standpoint and to shape a new unbiased opinion, however my own. Sometimes I do so, through difﬁcult this had seemed before. I can add that after becoming aware of learning a language, through reading your feet you cannot pretend you do not the literature, through friendships with No doubt, new cultures inﬂuence your identity and change have them. In building your patchwork people I care about. In this way I create your personality. You never stay the same after encountering identity in a rapidly changing world you my own space in a new culture. The new new cultures; this always brings new experiences, positive or will also change. Once you start you culture becomes partly mine. In some not. The fact remains the same: you change. You are con- will never quit. It seems impossible to cultures my “space” is large, in others stantly moving to the space in-between, where you belong come back from the in-between space. it is very moderate, but still it is there. to several cultures simultaneously. The mobility between cul- You will be craving more rags for your Everything depends on communicative tures becomes your life-style. Your identity transforms into patchwork. The end result is never clear, and cultural skills and a feeling of per- a “collage of fragments” as Richard Sennett called it or into but the game is still worth playing. sonal attachment to the culture. a “patchwork”, putting it in Heiner Keupp’s words. It is thus Secondly, encountering a new culture no surprise that after living in foreign countries and experi- gives you a perfect perspective for encing new cultures you feel lonely and misunderstood upon viewing both your “own innate” culture returning home, where only a few people can share the same About the author: and the “other” one. While living in my experience with you. You will surely need time to reintegrate. Yuliya Yurchuk is a student of EURO- homeland (the Ukraine) I perceived my After living between cultures or rather living with/in cultures, CULTURE at the University of Gottingen, difference on the individual level only. I can agree with Flemming Christensen, who wrote that in our Germany and the University of Deusto, While travelling, studying and living in postmodern society we do not have roots, we have feet. And Spain. 8 emanate | ISSUE 01
Between Cultures Serendipity in a Multicultural World Short surprising moments during my years in Erasmus Mundus Berlin – Treptower Park – May 2007 – Green, grafﬁti, the Berlin – Students‘ residence kitchen – September 2007 – Spree river, boat-houses, many, very many trees, a forest with- the daily ritual of having tea among friends: Mexican, Bolivi- in the city. There is a band playing in a clearing between the an, Iranian and Indian. Today, I informally interview an Iranian bushes, the sun comes and goes; they are playing saxophones, guy. How do they feel about war? Is it possible to go to Iran trumpets, and percussion to a rhythm that my body follows as a tourist? Is Teheran dangerous? Can he tell me some use- and that brings me to Istanbul, where I have never been. And ful words in Persian? How do people ﬂirt?… My former vision while they play and I listen to three roasting pigs endlessly of Iran: war; my present vision: interesting people, ancient spinning over a grill in front of the scene. culture, rich folklore, beautiful landscape. The Middle East is veeery far away from Mexico and my hometown… well… on Córdoba – Valderrama 12 – June 2006 – How can I take the other hand, Guantanamo is not that far. with me the emotions triggered by a walk in the mosque, the omnipresent smell of jasmine and orange blossom in May, the Europe – train – some days between 2005 – 2007 – I bor- ﬂamenco mood from a worker song or from inside a house row the childhood memories of two of my very good friends, or from the clock of the main square?… labyrinthine and ul- Nury and Marga. Children drawing their surroundings. One, tra narrow streets ﬁlled with the trafﬁc of dogs, people, cars, Chilean, draws a little house with the mountain range behind baby trolleys, bicycles, wheelchairs, and a couple of other it, trees, a river, and a happy smiling girl. The other one, Span- types of vehicles. ish, Andalusian to be speciﬁc, draws thousands of green dots The murmur of people speaking at midnight, having olives and (olive trees) and a happy smiling girl. Myself, Mexican, from beer, still leaves room to remember the history of three cul- Mexico City, draw a couple of mountains linked by a rainbow, tures living at the same time in the same place, a cathedral a car, a dog, a little house and a happy smiling girl. inside the mosque in the Jewish neighbourhood. The Roman bridge crossing the waters of Guadalquivir river and the walls I have found many surprises in a serendipitous way, without of the ancient medina remain the same. expecting to: a Bulgarian who is a master of salsa dancing, the endless differences in Spanish among Spanish-speak- Rabat – Random tea place – December 2005 – Jumping ing countries, the rapid and usual solidarity among cultural from Europe to Africa is a big jump. It is December; Europe is groups (Indians, Chinese, Latins, etc)…. and so on. An exciting lit up, Christmas trees, sales!, Christmas songs, presents!, and trip among cultures, and a corroboration of a legend clandes- Christmas postcards going home; Santa Claus is coming to tinely written on a library desk: ignorance is cured by reading, town, one can feel it… Arrival in Morocco: no special lights, intolerance is cured by travelling. no Christmas trees, no Christmas at all. The call to prayer. A lesson for a Westerner: do not think that the Christmas spirit invades the whole world in December; actually an increasing population does not care about it. About the author: Adi Estela Lazos Ruíz is an alumna of International Master of Sci- ence in Rural Development (IMRD) and will start her PhD in Spain and Mexico in January 2008. 9
Between Cultures Two Years of Ambition: Europe in Asian Eyes A journey of a mountain girl from the rocky roads of the Himalayas to the Alps of Austria Barajas Airport, Madrid: The Gateway to La Vida Loca. Sweet Symphony. The formative years. October 26, 2007. Vienna, Austria. Ktm, Nepal. The October sky was low and forbid- She was a typical tropical child who ding, an expressionless grey with not grew up in the late eighties and early the slightest variation in colour. She nineties in the dusty roads, disorderly headed towards the Heldenplatz to ob- streets and dimly lit homes of a third serve Austria‘s national day celebration, world country. She ate mangos in sum- the day in history when the last foreign mer and savoured the citruses in win- soldier left the country. The ﬁrst drop of ter and grooved to the beat of Michael rain hit her face. She shivered a bit in Jackson. A typical nineties teen, she hid the cold, damp, wind. There were many her emotions, never expressed her feel- people waiting for the train at the sta- ings and cried in the bathroom. She tion; few did anything but look down satisﬁed her curiosity with the “tell me the curve in the track, anxious to hear why” series of books since there were no the sound of steel wheels screeching to inexpensive personal computers or lap- take them to their destinations. tops, no internet, no mighty Google and Amidst the big crowd and the drizzle the know-it-all wikipedia. The window the orchestra played a Beethoven sym- to the world was provided by either the phony. Once the ceremony was over, she low-priced books, cable television which escaped to the nearby park overlooking broadcast many international channels, the house of parliament, sat on a bench, or slow dialup connections. But if one stared at the dull Viennese sky and soft- had a mind and was willing to use it, ly smiled to herself thinking “welcome no obstacle could dampen one‘s enthu- to the country of ‘The Sound of Music’.” siasm. She nurtured ambitions, most of It was her second year as an Erasmus which were realised. Things happened by student at the Technical University of design as well as by default and ﬁnally Vienna and the city was going to be her there she was, a noisy bubble, swim- home for another year. ming in the sea of knowledge. Thanks to the ERASMUS MUNDUS programme. 10 emanate | ISSUE 01
Between Cultures Living La Vida Loca. Madrid, Spain, 2006. The aircraft touched down on the run- way of Barajas airport and slowly turned lifeless. The captain made his ﬁnal an- nouncement as she began her journey to the land of “living la vida loca.” At the ﬁrst ﬂat party her jet black hair, brown complexion, tanned body and strange features raised many eyebrows, most of the European Erasmuses being oblivious of the ERASMUS MUNDUS programme. Do you have universities in your coun- try? “Do you have Internet access?” She was bombarded with questions the students genuinely wanted answers to. Some even asked her if they had Yeti in the neighbourhood or if yak was the only mode of transportation. Europe is one continent but every coun- try in it is so very different, something she realised living with different circles of friends. Distance from home was a From her homeland in the distant Himalayas, Prerana Dahal Sharma brought her own special contribution to shimmering rainbow to her where she the cultural mix of Erasmus students in Europe. did not have to meet any curfews. With a newly-found freedom amidst people from the different corners of the world, she learned to communicate, to get real with them, to set boundaries, to make requests and to ask for things and to They explained the reason voluntarily and all of them would About the author: listen to what people really wanted. try to come to a scientiﬁc conclusion, focusing on why it is Prerana Dahal Sharma is a second year Slowly, she started seeing people as so rather than who made it so. Young people have always student of European Masters Programme human beings irrespective of their hair played a key role in social reforms and transformation. They in Computational Logic (EMPCL) at the colour, the shape of their eyes and their all believed in different creeds and belonged to different com- Technical University of Vienna, Austria. accents. She partied till the early hours munities, religion hovering behind them, but nobody felt the of the morning and attended the morn- need to be cowed, or converted, or condemned or killed. They ing lessons. Then one ﬁne summer day sat right next to each other, standing shoulder to shoulder, a she bid farewell to Spain‘s sun and living most unlikely bunch of people united by the single thread of la vida loca and headed for the country their interest in their studies and working collectively for the of “The Sound of Music.” dream of a common life together. They had a vision of a new world: a world of one universal religion, humanity and intense interaction. They shared views, discussed ideas and tried to develop a mutually enriching culture rather than a mutually Romance with the exclusive one. Erasmus Religion. This is not just her story; each Erasmus Mundus student has a story of a generation of young people standing at the cross- In her ﬁrst year, the group she ate lunch roads of inheritance and a divided world, trying to look both with included an eclectic mix of Jews, ways at once, and ﬁnding the strong connection in a sense Christians, Orthodox, Moslems, Chi- of inner coherence. In the period of two years, they not only nese and Hindus, most of them from have the opportunity to understand people they previously religiously volatile parts of the world, considered as aliens but they also get a crash course taught all of them devout to a degree in their outside the university that breeds a new brand of ambas- respective religions. More often than sadors as citizens of the world instead of the foot soldiers of not, one of them would announce that one country. Buddha may have chosen the path of solitude to he was fasting, or he could not eat a reach enlightenment but in modern day interaction and har- certain food prepared in a certain way, monious intermingling deﬁnitely awakes the Buddha inside or any food at all, for a period of time. each of us. 11
Between Cultures Camembert with Chopsticks: The Rocky Road to Cultural Understanding How three different cultures forge common goals What did we expect from this Erasmus started on time, but different students arrived at different The three of us come from three com- Mundus programme? We certainly all times. For some this was normal, for others it was disrespect- pletely different ethnic and cultural had our own ideas. However, most of ful. We even had a debate about banning the entrance to class backgrounds: China, France and Peru. us got lots more than we bargained for. after 10 minutes. This however did not lead to any concrete We got through our ﬁrst year of ad- This article addresses both the expecta- result due to “cultural differences”. The expression “cultural aptation and are now hopefully better tions we had before starting the course differences” highlights a very important lesson we learnt in equipped for making the second year a less shocking and more easy-going and the experiences we lived and learned the ﬁrst year: how to adapt to a new culture. At the begin- experience. But coping with a new en- through. Both aspects have great rele- vironment, a new city, new people and vance for both our personal and profes- new courses still remains a challenge. In sional future in public health. our case it could be a help that we have already spent time together and learned We all knew it was not going to be easy to accept the fact that each of us is studying in a different language, but different, so the process of adapting in perhaps we did not expect that inter- the second year has not been so tough. acting with our classmates would be The fact that we are living in France potentially more energy-consuming and that one of us is French has helped than reading Foucault or Berger. We the other two to better and more eas- spent the ﬁrst year in Shefﬁeld, England ily understand the culture, but on the in a course of approximately 60 people other hand it has also been a process for and around 25 nationalities from Eu- the French student of readapting to her rope, Asia, Africa, the Americas and the own culture after spending almost 18 Caribbean. Sharing a classroom with all months abroad. Sharing our differences these students turned out to be both and explaining them to each other has a very fruitful and a fairly traumatic become a valuable way of learning from adventure. Trying to understand differ- each other, which we do not look on ent accents, the way others formulate negatively but rather enjoy. One activ- questions and perform debates about Elsa Dufay, César Eduardo Wong Alcázar, and Ying Wu experienced ﬁrst-hand both the challenges and enrichments ity we enjoy doing is cooking and eat- social and cultural aspects can be quite of intercultural collaboration. ing together. This can lead to interesting disconcerting at the beginning. Step by novelties: using chopsticks to eat cam- step, we learned that there is no ideal or embert (a typical French cheese) could unique answer to some issues; it might become an interesting way of spending be possible in mathematics, where two an evening! While we eat we learn and plus two equals four in every corner of ning we needed to “deal” with other students and with be- talk about our differences and home the world, but a child or woman‘s status ing surprised about their clothes, their way of speaking and cultures. We learn something new every in Nigeria might not necessarily be the pronunciation, the way they said hello and introduced them- day. “Cultural differences” still exist, but same in Korea. selves. After one year of obtaining “cultural skills”, two groups we have been much better at taking of Europubhealth (Shefﬁeld and Granada) came together and them on board this time. There are numerous anecdotes to illus- took part in an integrative module for one month in Krakow. The question is how we can take advan- trate this general point, but let‘s look Here we worked and lived together and managed to get along tage of what we have lived through and at the question of punctuality. Classes well with each other. 12 emanate | ISSUE 01
Between Cultures The Many Shades of Erasmus Mundus An opportunity for many unique life-lessons Having spent a year in the Erasmus Mundus programme I would say that Erasmus Mundus has several meanings for me. As a student from a devel- oping country, I would give the following answers to the question “what is Erasmus Mundus?”: experienced and how we should apply it in our future private and professional lives. Firstly in the personal area, we have learnt to be more open and not judge other people‘s actions A group of Masters courses, which the Euro, in most countries of the and behaviour too quickly. We need to accept others the way cut across various disciplines rang- European Union. they are, and not be too eager to change them so that they ing from engineering and sciences think like us or believe in what we believe. While working in to humanities and arts. A time to learn just a bit more public health even in our own countries, we will need to come about banking terms involved in the to terms with different groups and their needs. We need to A chance to study and live in at transfer of money across countries, understand populations and communities, and it is vital to least two different countries in Eu- such as the SWIFT and IBAN codes. take into consideration their beliefs, needs and expectations rope. whenever we implement or design a project. Over and above A time to learn a little bit more the valuable academic and professional input from course A chance to gain an international about shipping services and logistic work and lectures this is perhaps one of the most crucial in- degree as well as skills and knowl- ﬁrms that ship luggage around Eu- sights we can take home with us from Europubhealth. edge which propel one to greater rope. heights career-wise. After all we have been through, it may sound easy and may A time to gain exposure and seem that from now on we could live, work and adapt easily to A chance to meet and interact broaden your way of thinking. any new situation, but in fact this is not the case. Yes, we have with peers from diverse backgrounds become better and more easy-going people in many respects, and cultures. A chance to hear from And certainly a time to make but cultural adaptation is a never-ending process. Neverthe- „the horse‘s mouth” about other friends! Friendships that cut across less we can say that the more one is exposed to other cultures, countries you have formerly only the bounds of nationality, language, the easier it seems to become to adapt to them. So we would read or heard about. ethnicity and religion. recommend you all to take advantage of all situations where you may learn from others. Open your minds and learn even A chance to enhance interper- I have no doubt that several other the smallest thing from your classmates and colleagues. You sonal skills. Erasmus Mundus students would will not be surprised anymore if one day you end up having have one or more items to add to dinner sitting on the ﬂoor with your legs crossed, eating with A chance to visit popular cities in the list above because we have all your hands while watching a bunch of “giant human apes” in Europe. had diverse experiences. And the list a strange pile ﬁghting over an oval shaped object and being goes on and on ….. cheered for it (Rugby World Cup, 2007). Just enjoy it. A chance to learn at least two foreign languages, and observe new customs and cultures. A time to commit at least one About the author: faux pas. Ifeoma Uwadia is a student of Eu- About the authors: ropean Master in Informatics (EuMI) A time to be most grateful that Elsa Dufay, César Eduardo Wong Alcázar at the RWTH Aachen University, Ger- there is a single currency, namely and Ying Wu are second year students many. of European Public Health Master at the University of Rennes 1, France. 13
Between Cultures Culture Is an Iceberg Do we need special competence in dealing with different cultures for an Erasmus Mundus programme to be successful? Being in an Erasmus Mundus pro- of intercultural sensitivity, which means Erasmus Mundus and intercultural issues gramme is certainly a valuable op- we are aware of differences and are able portunity for learning and growth. The to cope with them without hurting oth- mobility that the programme provides is er people‘s (or even our own) feelings. Although more than 70% of the students surveyed conﬁrmed one of its most important characteris- There are also different levels of inter- that they became integrated in the local setting, there are tics. Students gain educational experi- cultural sensitivity that signify the way, also cases where periods of stay in a country produce negative ence in different countries with differ- in which we see our cultural proﬁle in feelings. The reasons for this vary. Some universities offer op- ing teaching and learning traditions and relation to the ones we are faced with. portunities to learn about the other student‘s culture, to get also live in culturally diverse settings. According to Milton Bennett, these to know the local people and enjoy the difference. But some In a student survey mobility was also perceptions range from ethnocentric are lacking in this area. Another reason could be that in some rated as highly important academically. dispositions (where one, usually one‘s cases Erasmus Mundus students move through a high number The students of Erasmus Mundus have own, culture is perceived as superior) to of countries with not enough time to learn to appreciate the the opportunity to work in intercultural ethnorelative ones with integration be- local cultures, lacking the competence to do so. And overall environments. However, having to both ing the highest level (meaning that one satisfaction with a particular location also inﬂuences the aca- work and live in diverse contexts can is able to understand and incorporate demic success of the programme. also be a challenge. In order to take full different cultural behaviour patterns). advantage of the situation, intercultural Secondly, it is important to recognise There may also be problems working with such diversity. Al- competence is both a prerequisite and a the intercultural learning potential this though most students have had experience working in in- quality that can be improved while in an diversity provides. Knowledge and skills ternational teams, there may still be misunderstandings and Erasmus Mundus programme. could be present in the different cul- challenges. This is especially due to the “iceberg” nature of tural domains of the diverse people and culture, meaning many elements are actually hidden under the societal structures we encounter. surface. It is extremely important to create a learning com- What do we mean by Students of an Erasmus Mundus pro- munity within the programme, so that no one is left out. And gramme are exposed to intercultural here we are not talking merely about being culturally sensi- intercultural competence? domains in two respects. Firstly, they tive and being able to work together, but about being able to live in at least two countries during the foster intercultural learning. The diversity of fellow students programme and thus are placed in a cul- The concept has gained importance es- can be a great resource for learning and seeing things from a turally different context 24 hours a day. pecially lately as changes in societies different perspective as well as a great joy. Secondly, their colleagues come from undergoing a process of globalization, In these ways the concept of intercultural competence is of various parts of the world with differ- bring increasing diversity with possible key importance for the success of an Erasmus Mundus pro- ent life biographies and work and study culture clashes (not only of national cul- gramme. Not only can it minimise negative experiences while backgrounds. The experience is valuable tures). In various new policy documents living abroad and studying on intercultural teams, but also and inspiring. However, problems might intercultural competence is deemed a can help recognise the intercultural learning possibilities and arise in both areas. Integration might necessary component for life and work fully realise the potential of the programme and our experi- pose a problem for students living in a in a new and ever-changing society. In- ence. The intercultural competence that can develop within foreign country. tercultural competence consists ﬁrstly Erasmus Mundus is also a key characteristic needed both for 14
emanate ISSUE 01 The Magazine of the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association February 2008 ... EMAnate Issue 01.indd Author: Mac 1 Created Date:
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