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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Thoughts inspired by summer academy 2023 



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KIRJALÄHTEET
KIRJA KIRJAILIJA
Älä jauha p*skaa
Gary John Bishop
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 4 minuuttia.

For my experience it happens really often at international events that you tend to hang out with people from your own country and well ofcourse, it is the easy way. In August I participated to summer academy which was a week of innovation with students of Proakatemia and the Swiss Innokick programme. During the week we were divided into multicultural groups and each group got a challenge from customer and they got few days to dig into it and innovate something that might interest the customer. Besides working hours, we also had some free time activities to discuss and to learn to know each other better. 

This wasn’t my first international working experience and I’ve seen the same formula many times that people easily end up discussing in their own language with their own people and won’t necessarily even notice that. It might be about hanging with your friends and have a nice trip together abroad, getting to know your own country people you didn’t know before, it might be about insecurities for language or other reasons. Even though you’d want to hang out also with foreigners it might be difficult to step into a group which is speaking their own language and just hoping them to switch into English. In summer academy context it has happened for sure in both language groups in Finnish and Swiss.  

It takes some time that people kind of blend with each other. There are always these few brave ones who straight from the beginning take contact to people “from other group” actively and during the week also others will start to talk more to each other. Since week is such a short time it always feels that it ends just when it only started to begin, and people were about to be a bit familiar with others. 

Let’s jump

Same phenomenon is also seen in the context of our teams even though we speak the same language. If there are already some kind of groups formed like with whom people tend to hang out with breaks or other times it can be quite difficult to decide to jump into different group than you usually do. It requires courage from you and also from the group you’re going into to accept you as a welcomed visitor to their conversation. In the end it’s always about the feeling of being accepted and also fear of being left outside. You might think beforehand: “if I stay at my comfort zone and won’t go into new group then at least I won’t be rejected”. In this case you make decision behalf of others and then you definitely don’t get in.  

But why do we do that? Decide to decline thing from ourselves. These are the things and models of thinking that we have learned along the way, and it can be strong thinking habit. Norms and beliefs of what will always happen or what won’t ever happen to me. But are these beliefs real or just bullsh*t and excuses? We need to catch these negative circles of thoughts and focus to change them. (Bishop 2021.) 

Learn how to swim

If changing your habits, e.g. jump into new group of people, is already difficult in our own language then isn’t it even harder with foreign language. Well, ofcourse it can be but in this case only way to ease the pain is to go straight towards it. You only learn to speak by speaking. When I was about 20 years old, I was really shy to speak in English (and shy in general) but I wanted to be better, so I volunteered for working in a Nordic youth camp which had 1200 participants around Nordic countries and I knew absolutely no one beforehand, what an experience for a shy person. And there I was one morning facing a group of 25 people and I had to have some ice breaking activities with them in English. I can tell it was horrible but I’m still alive. Next year I applied to another international event to practice more and few years later I found myself hosting a workshop in international seminar.  

My point is that if you want to develop in working with multicultural and international contexts then you need to push yourself to the deep end. Don’t worry, you’ll learn to swim eventually. If you do that it might help you in multicultural Proakatemia and also later on in working life. STTK (2022) has provided an research which shows that 79% of people who answered is working or has been working with people who has foreign background. Ofcourse there is many perspectives of what kind of skills might be needed when working multiculturally but let’s focus now mainly the language since it is quite a barrier for many. 80% of STTK (2022) research answers feels positively about working with colleagues who has foreign background and when there are negative feelings about it, reasons are often in language difficulties. 

Unfortunately, skills such as languages can be forgotten or kind of rusted if not used and you have to keep it up. That’s one reason I wanted to participate to summer academy: for refreshing my English and ofcourse to meet some new people from different countries. That always teach you something about other cultures but also about yours as well. My second action for keeping up language skills was to write this essay in English. I’ll challenge you to do the same, it won’t hurt you. Much. 

 

Sources

Bishop, G.J. 2021. Älä jauha p*skaa. Lopeta itsesi sabotointi ja tule oman elämäsi herraksi. Voicebook. WSOY. Requires access rights. https://www.bookbeat.fi/kirja/ala-jauha-p*skaa-266719  

STTK. 2022. STTK:n kysely: 80 prosentilla myönteisiä kokemuksia työskentelystä ulkomaalaistaustaisen kanssa. Website. Referred 12.10.2023.
https://www.sttk.fi/2022/06/06/sttkn-kysely-80-prosentilla-myonteisia-kokemuksia-tyoskentelysta-ulkomaalaistaustaisen-kanssa/ 

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