An intercultural bout between UCT, Finland and partners

31 Oct 2017 - 11:45

The Patient Partner Programme, which was reported on in the UCT news, is one of three projects funded by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union as part of the Caring Society 3.0 (CASO) consortium. The CASO consortium is a working partnership between two other South African universities, the University of the Western Cape and the Cape Peninsular University of Technology, and three European universities; Avans University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, Karel de Grote in Belgium and Lahti University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

Dr Rachel Weiss (project manager), Dr Busayo Ige, Ms Elmi Badenhorst and Dr Natashia Muna all recently had the privilege to travel to Finland for the October 2017 CASO staff meeting, hosted by Lahti University.

Natashia, Busayo, Rachel and Elmi attending the Lahti Pelicans ice hockey game.

The purpose of these staff meetings is to provide CASO members with an important opportunity to sit down face-to-face and engage with partners from the other side of the world. Staff weeks include progress reports, reviews and feedback, collaborative planning and development, team building activities, field trips and presentations.  For the Patient Partner Programme this was a particularly important week, as we had the opportunity to present on one of our project outcomes; an Intercultural Communication workshop.

The first iteration of the workshop was presented by Dr Ige and Naeema Parker to our patient and student partners at UCT in August 2017. The workshop, which had an applied approach to it, was very well-received and played a pivotal role in the formation of relationships among the patient partner group and between the patient and student partners.

Busayo presenting  Busayo facilitating a small group discussion

 This second iteration of the workshop, again led by Dr Ige, was presented to the CASO staff members and a large group of international nursing students studying at Lahti University. In response to the changing audience, the workshop offered a much deeper theoretical perspective on the concepts of culture, high and low cultural context, face and politeness, while still providing participants with the opportunity to engage in practical activities and discussion in small groups.  However, it was the moving and personal stories shared by Dr Ige, Ms Badenhorst, Dr Weiss and Mr Teunissen (CASO manager) that stole the show. Participant feedback indicated that these stories, above all else, has the most profound effect upon their notions of ‘otherness’ and the different ways that our communicative practices can alienate or include people.

Rachel and Rene sharing their stories    Elmi telling the story of her raincoat

Moving forward, Dr Ige and Ms Badenhorst will be working closely with Dr Soraya Maart, head of Physiotherapy at UCT, Tuula Hypponen, from Lahti, and Bart Paaimans, from Avans, to develop the Intercultural Communication workshop into an extended curriculum module. The goal is to design an educational experience for students within healthcare and allied professions, that will raise their awareness and develop their capacity for respectful and constructive communication with patients, clients and service users within a social and healthcare context.

Tuula, Elmi and Busay