Celebration of Super-diversity

international students

When people asked me why I chose Communication Management MA I had a very clear answer, since I had been reading a lot about this field and its importance in today’s life. But it is always “better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times”, because there are much more exciting and at the same time challenging things you have to experience.

Super-diversity, Intercultural Communication, Identity and Society, Models of Cultural Differences … this is a partial list of the core courses and themes we read about, have deep discussions about, and hold presentations during the lectures. Most importantly, this is the place where we can use our theoretical knowledge on daily basis, since we keep in touch with people who have different linguistic and cultural background. To make it short, we celebrate the difference every day. However, sometimes, university space and all the things I have mentioned above is not enough for our lectures and professors offer us new challenges in order to grow and learn about intercultural communication in different circumstances as much as possible.

Last semester I have been working on the project in the frame of the course “Super-diversity and Intercultural Communication” with the Master’s students from the Utrecht University. Yes, Utrecht, the Netherlands which is quite far from Estonia. Are you a bit confused? Okay, let me start from the very beginning … It was a new telecollaboration project between three universities: Tallinn University, University of Urbino "Carlo Bo" and Utrecht University.  The course was led by Prof. Anastassia Zabrodskaja, Prof. Claus Ehrhardt, Dr. Kristi Jauregi, and Dr. Annelies Messelink. In a telecollaboration project, Master’s students of Intercultural Communication from the three universities participated.

The teachers divided us into small groups. During the five-week period we were telecolaborating with each other through different technological tools, such as Skype, oovoo, BigBlueButton, What’s App. We had some individual tasks, as well as group assignments to do and had to work together on the final group report. Our main topic focused on refugees, which is very sensitive and relevant issue for research. Since we, researchers, were from different countries, we made a comparison of situations with refugees in Georgia and Netherlands. The research drew a clear picture of what the attitudes of Georgian and Dutch students towards refugees are and how the media influence them.

Every task required a lot of effort from us but without effort, it is impossible to do research, collect information, filter it and analyse, discuss with your team members, accomplish the project and meet the deadlines. We were not only doing our tasks, but were also reflecting weekly about the project, about the tools we had been using for communication.  Self-reflections were very important part of the telecollaboration course. When you see that professors from three universities do really care about what students think – this fact motivates you as a learner to contribute as much as you can.

To be honest, I was very skeptical about telecollaboration from the very beginning of the course. It seemed quite difficult, if not to say almost impossible for me to work from distance, but fortunately, I was wrong. Everything worked out well and smoothly. I have experienced how it is to work with people from different countries, with different backgrounds, values, beliefs, experiences, knowledge, ideas, personalities etc. It was a great opportunity to see the facts from other’s perspective, listen to other people’s opinions and respect the differences. I have learned a lot from my team members Vera and Philine. They have been supporting me during the whole course and now I am happy that the course was just a beginning of our communication. I could say that diversity has created a better performance in our case. I am looking forward to the next opportunity of working with people from culturally diverse backgrounds, because, for me, it was one of the most interesting and exciting experiences so far.

Text by Ani Kurashvili (Communication Management MA student).