Bilingual community reflection
Kirjoittanut: Thais Santos Araujo - tiimistä SYNTRE.
Communities that are multicultural and multi-lingual, like ours, can either succeed or fail. It depends on how well we understand our differences, negotiate and manage them and share some values to build trust. I think the tool that has worked the best in Proakatemia, in general, is empathy. We as teams go to mökkipajas (2-3 days team meeting in an external environment) and are open about our past, present, and future. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and through empathy, we trust each other.
As a community, it’s hard to create these same ties, and it might not even be the idea. Although, the sense of belonging and being respected should be equal for all the students in the community. My first year In Proakatemia was not like that. Imagine starting to study in a new country: All around you are people who don’t fully understand you or the culture you’re coming from. You need to communicate with them and convince them your thoughts are valuable and that your loudness and cultural behaviors are not disrespectful, but they don’t know your background, and you don’t know theirs. This is the case with many students joining the community in international teams. Of course, if you are an extrovert and you can dedicate full-time of your day to the community, not working, for example, you most likely can quickly find your way around the Proakatemia corners. We can’t assume this availability as default because we would limit our community’s diversity and creativity.
There’s normally a defensive response to pointed-out issues. That’s understandable because no one is excited about changes. Changes can be bothering. Building a bilingual community that used to be only Finnish speaking will have many changes to be pointed out and worked on. We need to be open to discussions. At the beginning of this semester, I noticed that English-speaking teams’ essays are not shown on the main page of the Proakatemia essay bank. I pointed it out to Jory, and it was a very welcomed comment. I hope we keep this positive attitude towards the points we need to change. By doing it, step-by-step, we will have a connected and multicultural community.
If we want everyone to get together and work for the good of all, we need to treat one another with respect and accept each other’s differences. At the very least, we must acknowledge the different cultural backgrounds and avoid repeating the mistakes already pointed out that prevented our community from developing in the past.