night view of Bruges

A reflection on cultural competence through taking part in DLAB 

A reflection on cultural competence through taking part in DLAB 

With Covid-19 pausing all non-essential international travel, my cultural competence was not as advanced as I would like. This Digital Learning Across Boundaries (DLAB) event week in Bruges was an opportunity for all countries including, England, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, and Spain to collaborate and bring their individual research results to a collective workspace.

night view of Bruges

This DLAB trip to Bruges gave me the opportunity to expand my skills in multiple ways, a few skills I have improved are, learning to speak in front of new people, working with students in a different culture and workspace, and participating ethically in personal intercultural settings.

A quick flashback of the start of the trip includes a drinks reception, this event on the night of arrival supported us to introduce ourselves, learn a bit about each other and all the countries involved. This provided us with the opportunities to discus our expectations and prospects for the rest of the event. Often when in new situations and meeting new people, I lose confidence and will often let other people speak for me. So, this event was an opportunity for me to expand my cultural competence and interact more confidently with a range of different people.

a pic collage of scenes from a visit to Bruges

Another example of an opportunity to advance cultural competence was a boat trip that we took on the Tuesday morning. This excursion took as around the Bruges cannel, the arteries of the city, we saw an array of cultural locations and buildings of importance. The boat had a tour guide, who explained the cultural aspects of the place, spoke in two languages to make the trip as culturally diverse as possible. On reflection, this displayed how we should improve our inclusion and diversity skills to become more accessible and culturally competence. This also provided us with the opportunity to get to know each other as an England student team as we are not from the same courses.

One barrier to learning and international working is a language difference, as English students we are not able to fluently speak any of the languages from the countries listed above. On reflection of this barrier, we were expecting all students to speak English, on arrival this was the expectation from all countries. However, as students attending an international event, we should have been more open-minded and ready to learn new languages and communication skills.

When meeting all the countries for the first time in Howest University, it was rather overwhelming however all the other students were very welcoming and open to meeting new people. This event is an incredible opportunity to expand my knowledge on DLAB, work as part of an international research group and meet new people.

Thank you for this opportunity, Hannah May.

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