Intercultural training improves international experience for staff and students
A new training project at the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) is aimed at improving the way QUIC staff members support and interact with international students here in Canada and Queen’s students planning to study abroad. The project is also intended to prepare staff to support the Queen’s community as the campus becomes more internationalized.
“A fish only knows it’s in water when it is out of water. Part of this training is to take ourselves out of the water and start thinking about what it means to be in a cultural setting,” says QUIC director Wayne Myles. “The hope is that this training will help staff see how they and others interact in the world with a whole bunch of assumptions.”
Mr. Myles believes QUIC staff can operate more effectively with a better understanding of intercultural communications.
“A person who understands what dialogue between cultures means will be better prepared to see the world from the other person’s point of view. And they can also step back in a time of difficulty and ask, ‘what’s going on here culturally?’” he says.
The new training project ensures that all QUIC staff have basic intercultural training, such as that offered by QUIC’s International Educators Training Program (IETP). It also ensures that QUIC program coordinators receive presentation skills training, and receive instruction in the areas of intercultural communication and training.
In addition QUIC offers intercultural training for Queen’s students and staff and hosts staff from across Canada at an annual Summer Institute for international educators.
“Our sense is that under the new vision for Queen’s, intercultural training will become increasingly important as a dimension of internationalization both at home and abroad,” says Mr. Myles.
Recent surveys show that outbound and incoming students often struggle adjusting to new cultures. Various training sessions should help with their adjustment process. New online pre-departure training for outbound Queen’s students includes six modules on intercultural competence. Incoming international students can take part in orientation programs, socio-cultural competency training, and sessions that focus on the cultural transition to a Canadian workplace, all of which help with their adjustment to Queen’s and to Canada.