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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Sanni Olasvuori: Aiming for mutual understanding across cultural boundaries

Language: EN
Document available also in: FI SV


In October 2018, I took part in a course called Intercultural Communication in Education organised by  DOREA, which was already familiar to me. A total of 12 participants from five countries met in Split, Croatia, under the theme of intercultural communication. The countries represented were Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Slovenia and Italy. Our instructor was Helen Callanan, who boasts a long international career and has worked all around the world as a consultant and instructor in intercultural communication, including in war zones and crisis situations.

Our world is growing increasingly international. Immigration and integration emphasise the need to understand people coming from widely different life situations and cultures. Organisational activities bring together a large number of people working to promote common values and achieve common objectives. Organisations play an important part in inspiring and involving various groups of people, such as volunteers. The goal should be to make organisational activities as easily accessible as possible and welcoming to new activists. The Erasmus+ course provided me with many resources and tools for grasping the complexity of intercultural communication also at my workplace, Sivis Study Centre, a nationwide adult education provider. I also gained many tools that will be useful in my role as a communication expert: the course content was not restricted to intercultural encounters but was equally useful when communicating with my colleagues or the customers of our organisation. It is important not to assume that the recipient will understand the message the way you intended. One of the most memorable tips I heard during the course is that you should explain your message in three different ways when interacting with others. By expressing the same idea in different forms and from different perspectives you can ensure that the recipient understands it more clearly.

Inspired by Helen Callanan’s stories, we learned about some very tricky as well as some extremely funny real-life situations. We discussed theory extensively during the course, but our active and enthusiastic group was at its best in group work and different types of exercises. Helen’s teaching methods were truly engaging and innovative. Never have I felt as inspired or part of such a great, discursive group in an educational setting. I have warm memories of our course and the new acquaintances and insights I gained.


Text and picture: Sanni Olasvuori

Sivis Study Centre

This article is part of a series of articles about learning experiences in the field of adult education in an European context. Our ERASMUS+ KA1 project is called “European Educational Know-how Supporting Civil Society”.




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