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    Chair of Special Education V - Education for People with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders

    Intercultural-Country-Specific Training in Germany for Trainees from Laos

    Developed in the Framework of the Course 'Intercultural Fields of Action (GSiK)' of the University of Würzburg in Cooperation with BHS Corrugated Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH

    Summer semester 2020

    Introduction/ online-article

    GSiK and the Speci:al Education: The Chair of Special Education for People with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders, headed by Prof. Dr. Roland Stein, has supported the project „Global Systems and Intercultural Competence“  for many years and thus has become an integral part of this project. A fundamental aim is to link (special) education and interculturality. Global learning and promotion of intercultural, transcultural and (special)educational skills are of central importance. One of the main goals is to lecture students of all subject degrees in basic skills like ambiguity tolerance, flexibility in thinking and acting, frankness und an optimistic basic attitude. These are aspects of an intercultural competence, which are more or less of an obvious, but in any case of central importance in times of progressive globalisation, internationalization and an increasing number of migrants and refugees in all areas of life and fields of professions. Besides the individual aspects mentioned above, the intercultural action competence comprises intercultural professional expertise as well as social and strategic skills.

    Idea and Cooperation: Also the BHS Corrugated Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH, Weiherhammer, recognizes the strenghts and advantages of an international cooperation and supports - in the context of an international training project in cooperation with the Lao-German Technical College in the Lao capital Vientiane - the qualification of young service technicians in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2020 in the framework of this project, trainees from Laos will once again have the opportunity to broaden their professional, individual, social and intercultural competences at their training location Weiherhammer/Oberpfalz. At the beginning of their time in Germany, the trainees are being prepatory trained in order to enable a good introduction to working life and to prepare them for social life and social structures of Germany. The number of - also available to the public - intercultural trainings has increased significantly in recent years. However, the main emphasis on these trainings is often put on the development of intercultural skills and addresses less explicitly people coming to Germany. There are a number of country-specific training courses, especially for the Arab region, too. However, a training for people who come from Asia to Germany was not open accessible. This resulted in the idea to resume the already existing cooperation between the Chair of Special Education for People with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders (represented by Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller) and the foundation 'Angels for Children' affiliated to BHS Corrugated Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH. Within a seminar with students of the University of Würzburg an intercultural-country-specific training course was developed; especially suited to the needs of BHS.

    Seminar 'Intercultural Fields of Action'': Within the framework of the seminar 'Intercultural fields of action' at the Chair of Special Education V students of different courses of study in summer 2020 dealt with the above mentioned competences and had the opportunity to test and apply the different aspects at the same time. Students acquired knowledge about politics, the country and its people, geographic conditions, traditions, hierarchy, religion, etc. with regard to Laos, too. Moreover, they analysed 'typical German' behaviour, habits, prejudices and attitudes.

    Concrete Development of the Training: The team of developers consisted of the students Maximilian Ament, Anitra Harbeke, Anna Kirschner und Anna Schwarzkopf. The students were supported by Johannes Zeck (BHS), Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller (Chair of Special Education for People with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders) and the seminar leader Miriam Lohrmann (subproject GSiK, Chair of Special Education for People with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders). The interdisciplinary team consisted of students from different degree subjects (economics, teaching degree for secondary school, political and social studies and teaching degree for grammar-school), that ensured a versatile view on the task.
    The seminar startet with an extensive phase of mutual acquaintance, which was intented to create the basis for a pleasant and effective working atmosphere with space for creative development, but also for constructive criticism and orientation of the needs. Besides that, theoretical and practical examination (via Zoom) with the definitions, terms and topics 'culture' and 'intercultural competence' are an important basis. The examination of one`s own cultural identity was part of the introduction phase of the seminar, too. Furthermore, dealing with the trainees' country of origin was a central component with respect to the preparation of training development. Especially Johannes Zeck from BHS Corrugated Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH was an important ressource. In the context of his tasks at BHS and his Master`s thesis he has already been able to gather several experiences in Laos and to deal theoretically with this topic at the same time. Due to these skills, Johannes Zeck is an important and helpful expert, who also functioned as a middlemen between Germany and Laos. In the next step the students examined aspects, that are important for a successful intercultural-country-specific training. Existing trainings were analysed and reflected also concerning the profitability for own objectives. Contents to be covered in the training were fixed together, tasks were distributed and a simple, direct and fast means of communication was sought and found. It was remarkable, how important it is to rely on the individual team members, how difficult it can be for some to meet the schedule and which impacts this may have on the entire group. The importance of clear and unambiguous communication within the team became clear (not only theoretical). This is also reflected in the content of the training, which focuses on the topic 'communication', too. Individual components were developed und fit together within individual work. There was a weekly exchange in which open questions were discussed, organisational issues clarified, new ideas integrated and, by means of diverse inputs in the form of exercises, reflections, stories and discussions, always worked on one's own intercultural competence at different levels. On the part of the students intercultural subject-, social- and action skills had been developed and broadened on diverse levels. At the same time, strategic and individual competences of the students were improved. Due to the online semester, the training was only discussed online, but hasn't been conducted in presence form yet.

    Rough goals of the available manual: The participants of the seminar shall get an overview about politics, geography, history, religion, 'culture' and family structures in Germany. This shall be realized, inter alias, by working out common ground and differences between Laos and Germany. Communication processes have to be analysed theoritically and practically, an awareness for linguistic challenges shall be created, communication differences between Laos and Germany will be demonstrated and thus, inter alia,  sources and causes, that are responsible for linguistic misunderstandings, will be identified and certainty for such situations established. These skills shall contribute to an uncomplicated resolution of a conflict and prevent possible misunderstandings and conflicts. The objective of the training is also to work out with the participants usual and unusual behaviour in Germany  and thus to facilitate the arrival in social and working life.

    In addition, an awareness of the handling of 'time' in Germany shall be created and fundamental manners in working life examined and discussed. A central objective of the training is the intercultural sensitization of all participants.

    Implementatin and Outlook: The first implementation was originally scheduled for August/September 2020. Due to the Corona-pandemic and the more complicated conditions for leaving as well as entering a country involved, the date for the implementation isn't currently fixed yet. If possible, the project will be conducted by the training developers with five trainees from Laos. This is followed by a critical reflection of the training programme as well as a reworking of the revised issues by the developers, the seminar leader and the cooperation partners. A future objective is the integration of the programme into the in-house training at BHS.

    The Chair of Special Education for People with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders would like to thank BHS Corrugated Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH for the constructive cooperation in this project and for the creation of a real field of application of the developed training, but also for the general opportunity to test and apply intercultural action competences.


    Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller, Chair of Special Education V - Education for People with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders

    Miriam Lohrmann, Chair of Special Education V - Education for People with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders; subproject GSiK: