In October 2018, I went to Italy with my 9-month-old baby and took part in the training “Facing Diversity: Intercultural Classroom Management”. Since I myself am an adult educator, I was, in addition to the content of the training, also interested in the arrangement of the learning process as well as the choice and implementation of training methodology.
I drew the following main conclusions for my own work:
- An Erasmus+ learning mobility project is more than just a training: the whole learning experience (the travelling itself, finding your way in the town, discovering the culture and communicating with the local people) enriches and changes the participant’s world view.
- Since people come from different countries and get to know the organisers’ culture through the training, more attention should be paid to hospitality and supporting the learners during the training (the receiving organisation was unfortunately not a good role model in that respect).
- Regardless of the topic and quality of the training, a lot of new and interesting knowledge can also be gained from the other participants – in my case, from ten educators who came from different countries.
- It was marvellous to feel like a student again, who, a coffee cup in hand and a backpack on her back, hurried to her study session through the historical streets of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
- Since as an educator I work with students from very different backgrounds, I realised once again how important it is to follow the learner-centred approach and to choose such methodologies as project work and other collaborative techniques in order to ensure effective learning and achieve the learning outcomes.
- Since we had to compose a roadmap for our own culture during the training, it made me think about which culture influences my outlook on life, my decisions, and my life as a whole more – Russian or Estonian culture? I realised that neither of them separately, but rather a combination of both of them. It came as a surprise to me.
- A little reminder I put on my wall after I got home:
How to avoid misunderstandings and be open to different cultures?
What did I learn from my tiny daughter? The world offers many interesting experiences. If you approach it with an open heart, trust life, are friendly towards other people and curious, then big and small miracles happen every day.
Jelena Lohmatova is a qualified adult educator (level VII), member of the board of Estonian Association of Adult Educators (ANDRAS), EPALE ambassador in Estonia, the best adult educator of Ida-Virumaa and the best adult educator of Estonia in 2014. She has a Master's Degree in educational sciences (Tallinn University, Andragogy department). She has been organising courses for adult educators since 2012. Jelena is leading two organisations: Vestifex Adult Education Centre and Non-formal learning centre VitaTiim.