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As one’s experience of cultural difference becomes more complex, one’s cultural competencies increase

Thie DAICE project was focused on older people, their social inclusion, digitalisation and culture.

DAICE, DIGITAL APPROACHES FOR INTERGENERATIONAL CULTURAL EDUCATION is an Erasmus+ K2 project focusing on (older) people, digitalisation and culture. The six partners in this project took part in transnational meetings and trainings in Ulm, Zagreb, Belgrade, and finally Timisoara. Visiting towns, attending transnational meetings were also study trips. They were devoted to deepening knowledge concerning digitalisation, overcoming generational divides, getting familiar with best practices in each country (in the field of culture and digitalisation, preferably related to older people).

Further, through informal learning partners and other participants in transnational meetings experienced intercultural learning (change in attitude, communication) and became more culturally sensitive. This was particularly true of the last meeting and visit to Timisoara where, after a short preparation at home, project partners, their staff, and their older students participated in a 5-day sojourn. While in Timisoara, they were exposed to different cultural aspects of the Banat region, which in itself is intercultural.

Getting closer to Romanian-Banat culture

The participants in the DIACE project took part in cultural conferences on ethnicities in the Banat region, their religions, solidarity, and mutual help, etc. They visited cultural institutions (National Art Museum of Banat, French Cultural Centre, Museum of Religions, Museum of Revolution), participated in debriefing sessions by representatives of the Council of the Timis region in charge of the preparation of the Timisoara European Capital of Culture 2023, and conducted ethnographic projects. The national project coordinator The Ligue of writers, Banat Branch and its vice-president Ana Žlibut had developed an organic programme for the DIACE participants’ sojourn in the Banat region. A National Museum of Banat’s project has become part of Europeana Foundation bringing to digitalised visibility quarters of the town, the old ways of living, seen through the eyes of unknown, invisible women (housewives), but also through descriptions in novels and purposively collected stories. All cultural institutions Ana Žlibut had selected for the occasion presented to the DAICE project participants their digitalised activities and projects involving digitalisation.

Methods/informal learning used to increase cultural sensitivity

The DAICE project partly developed the participants' ability to see from others’ perspectives and the ability to understand other worldviews. In a short time deep cultural knowledge going beyond the convetional knowledge of cuisine, greetings, customs, etc. cannot be gained, since it entails a more holistic, contextual understanding of culture, (historical, political, and social contexts). Moreover, any assessment of culture-specific knowledge needs understanding the data and the intricacies of these deeper contexts.

For some of the participants data consisted of field notes, a diary, creating a photo album, To illustrate this point, Slovenian U3A’s older students of architecture and urbanism, created an album of renovated interiors of pubs in Timisoira, facades, and buildings, as well as squares, etc. Older students of French made an album documenting the language of the urban signs, restaurant menus, book titles in bookstores, etc. They searched for similarities between Romanian and French language and were eager to know how long it would take them to learn basic Romanian. Moreover, the data came from the participants’ casual conversations with older people from Romania and other European countries concerning the way of living (accommodation, health, culture, education, transport, mobility, social welfare, active ageing, etc.). Informal learning also took place over common meals: learning about food, its preparation, similarities and dissimilarities between cuisines. Partners discovered the extraordinary culinary and wine tradition of Romania.

The participants’' findings supported the primary assumption as one’s experience of cultural difference becomes more complex and sophisticated, one’s competence in intercultural relations increase, though it is rather difficult to assess it.


From DAICE project towards a new project

In the DIACE project partners were thinking about older people, situation in European countries in terms of older peoples' access to digital technology, etc. It has become clear that in educational projects various degrees of older people’s aversion to digital technology and their fears, are to be considered. Older people are worried by “information overload”, losing control, losing the habit of reading, etc. “For education of older people to be successful the word digitalisation should be avoided and digitalisation should rather become a hidden agenda” emphasised the Croatian partner. The project should be focused on older people's latent knowledge to be brought to visibility through digitalisation. Thus, older people may softly get familiar with digital devices and applications while using them purposively as to reach their agreed purpose.

2023-02-09 08_52_5.


It can be argued that the participants in the DAICE project gained intercultural competencies while becoming more culturally sensitive. The project was also an opportunity for reflection on the intricacies between the older people's social value, their abilities, digital technologies and cultural competencies.


Pučko otvoreno sveučilište, Zagreb, Hrvaška (coordinator)

Zavod za proučavanje kulturnog razvitka (Beograd, Srbija)

Associata "Liga Scriitorilor" Filiala Timisoara Banat (Temišvar, Romunija)

Angel Kanchev University of Ruse (Ruse, Bolgarija)

Slovenska univerza za tretje življenjsko obdobje, združenje za izobraževanje in družbeno vključenost (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Universität Ulm Zentrum für Allgemeine Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung (Ulm, Nemčija)


Dr. Dušana  Findeisen is an adult educator, co-founder of Slovenian Third Age University, Head of the Research Institute of the Slovenian U3A and a former assistant professor of andragogy.

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