Some European universities are much more pro-active about internationalisation than others and I have a feeling that German universities are in general more proactive in this than HE institutions in other EU countries. The Managing Cultural Diversity seminar which I have just returned from is just one prong in a palette of events and opportunities that the RAC students are exposed to during their time as students at the campus. In addition to the seminar, there are international weeks, international projects both local and abroad and a constant stream of Erasmus and other exchange students from the university’s partner institutions who are very visible on campus and also very well looked after. Having met many of these exchange students and also many of the home students who have already had a semester or internship abroad, I can vouch for the life-changing nature of these exchanges. Thank you to the organisers for inviting me to contribute and participate once again at this annual event at Rhein-Ahr Campus in Remagen.
Having attended the MCD seminar for a number of years now, I know that I will meet old friends and make new ones. The intense discussions that happen during the seminar make a vivid impression. The last couple of years I have been supported financially by a Erasmus+ mobility grant so the question is, what is the point of the EU subsidising me and the event generally?
Cross-cultural and professional development
This applies not just to me for application in my business but also to all the other students and staff who participate. This year, in particular, the need to emerge outside of our echo chambers to find out what is going on over the fence seemed particularly acute.
Although there were 23 nationalities represented in the seminar, including some local refugees, my session highlighted that there were some aspects of diversity missing from the gathering almost by definition, since this was an educated group. I hope that I managed to impress upon the group the critical importance of connecting with others outside their group so that results such as the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump does not come as such a surprise to them in the future. Their final task in my session was to write themselves an email through futureme.org that they would receive in six months or so to check how well they are doing in making contact with diverse groups. If these future managers use the diversity that they will inevitably meet in their jobs to increase potential and creativity, which much research shows to be the case, then the EU will have spent the money wisely.
Image credit: Elmar-Laurent Borgmann at Rhein Ahr Campus