Business researchers have been continuously pointing out that employers need graduates who can compete in global marketplaces and function in multicultural environment (See Intercultural Competence in Business). Following this trend, higher educational institutions, for instance in Thailand, offer international programs, students exchange programs, partnership with other universities across the globe to prepare their students to meet the challenges of living and working in a diverse and globalized world.
Locally speaking, in 2012, over 24,490 Thai tertiary level students were studying abroad. The top four destination countries were The U.S., U.K., Australia, and Japan. In the same year, 20,309 foreign tertiary level students were studying in Thai higher institutions. The top four countries of origin were China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, and Vietnam. The top four Thai University destinations were Assumption University, Mahachulalongkornvidyalaya University, Mahidol University, and Ramkhamhaeng University  (Table 2). The phenomenon of student mobility across this region is expected to grow if the ASEAN University Network is taken into account making our campuses much more culturally diverse.
IC-21 Intercultural program profile
Our institution, IC-21, provides intercultural trainings and seminars aiming at developing competency among our trainees.
IC-21 assumes that functioning in cultures different than our own is much more complex than just knowing about their food, music, heroes, and so forth. Hence, all IC-21 intercultural trainings are built on the constructivism and developmental approach of intercultural communication.
Therefore, it explores Subjective culture instead of Objective Cultures in order to boost a new patterns of perception, assumption, understanding, and evaluation, that is, a new mindset, heartset and skillset .
Subjective culture enables our trainees to experience and understand the world from the others perspective, to see culture as a system which has borders and limits. Besides, Subjective culture, Bennett contends, provides a base for defining "diversity" in a way that includes both international and domestic cultures at different levels of abstractions .
Intercultural mindset explores such concepts as cultural self-awareness, understanding of cultural adaptation, culture etic categories, ethnocentrism, structural change and process, uncertainty, multiple causality, relativity, probability, non-symmetrical relationships, degrees of difference, incongruity, and assumptions, to name just few of them.
Intercultural skillset contemplates mainly empathy, communication styles, nonverbal behavior, listening skills, and anxiety management skills.
Finally, intercultural heartset delves into cognitive flexibility, open-mindedness, non-judgment attitudes, respect for others values and beliefs, and flexibility.
Where are the IC-21 intercultural trainings conducted?
For the educational sector, IC-21 provides three kind of intercultural trainings: predeparture, sojourning, and reentry. Those are specially designed to address cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. In doing so, the training techniques to develop the mindset, skillset and heartset are lecture/discussion techniques, role playing, case studies, critical incidents, culture-general simulations, culture-specific simulations, movies, and didactic games.
For the sake of comfort, our trainings and seminars can be also conducted in-house in your institution.
IC-21 Predeparture, sojourning, and reentry intercultural training for both international and domestic students in Thailand
|1) Predeparture||0ne-day Training
|Four-day Training in a month
|2) Sojourning||0ne-day Training
|Four-day Training in a month
|3) Reentry||0ne-day Training
|Four-day Training in a month
Who can take our intercultural training and seminars?
- Scientists who conduct their research in international teams;
- Technical and administrative staff who come in contact with international students or employees;
- Foreign and domestic students; and,
- Employees of universities.
- Undergraduate and graduate students;
The IC-21 intercultural trainings and seminars are built on three assumptions:
IC-21 main assumptions
|1) You live in a globalized age in which all people on earth, regardless of the culture, are interconnected. Some of this connection might be obvious as when you interact with someone who might speak a strange language. Others connection might be more subtle such as others' unfamiliar and weird reactions to a very familiar and "normal" event, or countries' programs or issues having direct impact on global economy and security.|
|2) Culture does not mean nation. You yourself hold multiple cultural membership: hence the term co-culture (i.e., your religion, economic status, ethnic background, age, gender, sexual preference, professional background, and so forth). Ergo, even if you do not interact with people from other countries, you do with others from co-cultures who speak the same language but belong to cultures that are different from yours.|
|3) Today the concern is not whether you will have intercultural interaction, but whether you will do it competently or not. There is no another option!|
Is objective culture good enough to promote better understanding among cultural groups?
During the last two years, Thai universities in Bangkok were deeply engaged in spreading information to their students, faculty and administrators about the upcoming ASEAN community through means of lectures, conference and school fair inside the campuses.
However, as can be seen in the pictures below, most of the information intended to promote either mutual understanding between culturally diverse peers, or to reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations, and to easy historical intergroup tension was mainly focused through Objective Culture.
Research evidence in the intercultural field during the last five decades rejects the long-standing assumption that objective culture, that is, knowing about the host culture's music, food, dress, heroes, holidays, geography, history, and architecture does translate into intercultural competence. That is, objective culture does not enable people to reduce misunderstanding nor help to improve intergroup relations.
Objective culture still plays a pervasive role when promoting better understanding among the ASEAN countries. Photos taken at Chulalongkorn University.
Lack of interaction between international and domestic students
Contrasting the increasing number of international students in Thailand and worldwide, research evidence in, for instance, Scotland , in the UK , in the United States , Australia , New Zealand , Japan , and Thailand  indicates that the amount of interaction between culturally different students i.e., international and domestic students, is generally low.
In line with this finding, literature on the sojourn experience converges on the premise that culturally different students do not readily mix; rather, they prefer to network with people from a similar cultural background . Taking into account this patron, it is unlikely that the higher education institutions will achieve their major education aim of preparing students to meet the challenges of living and working in an intercultural context and globalized world  unless intervention is made.
That is why our institution, IC-21, holds predeparture, sojourning, and reentry training for intercultural competency to both domestic and international students in Thailand.
During the last five decades, interculturalists have developed trainings so that the intercultural interaction could be less hostile, more effective and meaningful for both sides. Today, we do know more about what and how to improve intercultural contact. The more we know the way to make a person effective in an intercultural setting, the more evident the need for intercultural training appears to be for all universities' employees.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you need more detailed information.
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