The Power of CI Workshops

I chose to study at the University of Greenwich because of its openness, diversity and its excellent quality of education and support for student. Also, the campus is one of the most beautiful sights in London! However, as a foreign student, it was quite daunting and scary jumping into student life. 

Through attending a variety of workshops and support from my teachers, I’ve gained the motivation to successfully overcome obstacles and find my place at the University. 


The cultural insight workshops:

They have taught me how to get out of my comfort zone, make new friends and overall made me feel very welcomed.

It was a great help for my personal growth: building my confidence and meeting new people, I otherwise would not have met.

Looking back to the beginning of the term, when these classes were introduced, I was very excited about them, and others in my group were also interested. However, not many people from my course have attended the workshops. Fast forward to where we are now, I can see what a tremendous help these classes have been to me. Now that I know more people at the campus and have the confidence to approach them, it is much easier for me to motivate them to join those types of workshops.


Looking back to the beginning of the term, when these classes were introduced, I was very excited about them, and others in my group were also interested. However, not many people from my course have attended the workshops. Fast forward to where we are now, I can see what a tremendous help these classes have been to me. Now that I know more people at the campus and have the confidence to approach them, it is much easier for me to motivate them to join those types of workshops.

Cultural Insight workshops were the most interactive and fun out of other workshops I have attended. They offered insightful information and tips on group work, building our self-esteem and student life dynamic in general. Also, each lesson came with a fun activity, which helped in remembering the details of the class itself.


Having gained so many new skills from these workshops, especially the interpersonal skills, I feel more prepared for the job market and working environment. The Cultural Insight workshops have helped me understand more about how to anticipate the needs of others. After reflecting on this experience, I noticed that I became more openminded, a better listener, and have more confidence. These skills make it easier for me to communicate with others.

I have also recognised that it is essential to take care of oneself and be mindful of other people. This brings great satisfaction, is very rewarding and can even create new relationships. Therefore, since, I have exercised my mind more in the angle of thoughtfulness and empathy. Sometimes it is harder than I thought it would be, but at the end of the day, it is absolutely worth it to take a moment and reflect.

If I had to describe the Cultural Insight project in just three words, they would be Inclusive, fun and mind-opening.

These workshops have been very educational and a lot of fun, so I would like to thank the Cultural Insight team for putting all of the materials together for us. I am looking forward to next year’s series of Cultural Insight Workshops.

Magdalena Rokosz, a student from a small town in Poland called Rzeszow who has just completed her 1st year of Human Resource Management. She has lived in many big cities but was charmed by London the most! She is excited about the endless opportunities the city has to offer and cannot wait to join the job market and further study a master’s degree. In her free time, she enjoys reading science fiction, watching documentaries and long walks.

My Student Life at the University of Greenwich

My name is Xingyu, a sophomore from China. My major is Politics & International Relations. As most Chinese students choose to major in business, there are no other Chinese students in my study circle.

I initially knew little about western singers, movies or food, and so I found it difficult for me to fit in with Europeans because of cultural and language differences.

I do have some other good international friends, but they are not from China. I have realised that they all have their own families and jobs, so we seldom get to communicate with each other except for study purposes. However, as our major has a Mandarin course option, I have been able to make some friends who have chosen to study Mandarin. I’ve also created a Mandarin Group on WhatsApp to assist those wishing to study and improve their Mandarin, and also to help learn about Chinese culture.

In terms of study, when I first entered university, the difference in language and learning methods was a big challenge to me. I found it difficult to take notes, look up materials in the library, and write references and so on, despite my English language skills. However, after a year’s study, I feel I have adapted and relaxed into the British way of learning pretty well.

However, perhaps due to my natural introversion, I still find there are some problems in my communications. For example, I was also quite afraid of creating and participating in presentations. However, these problems have much improved since taking part in the Cultural Insight Workshops.

Cultural Insight Workshops

By chance, I found the project Cultural Insight and decided to participate in their workshops, with the significant purpose of making friends.

The aim of the project is to help foreign students integrate into British culture and improve their personal skills in study, work or social interaction and I have now attended three workshops altogether.

The first workshop was structured to help students understand British culture and life.

After taking part in the first activity, I was able to share this learning with one of my Italian classmates.

She has told me that she also found the workshop both interesting and useful.

The second workshop was designed to help students understand how to fit into a genuinely multicultural community.

It also taught ways to make friends quickly in a multicultural society.

The workshop also taught how to use LinkedIn to create our own social circles.

The third workshop was structured to help students improve their communication skills and how to fully and better express ideas.

These workshops were all interspersed with some interesting activities, such as teamwork with Lego, to make the workshops more interesting and engaging.

The programme of Cultural Insight workshops has been limited, but they have still enabled me to gain a lot of knowledge that I could not easily assimilate. It has definitely helped me improve my interpersonal and personal skills and also equip me to better adapt to and integrate into British culture.

In short, I have enjoyed and benefitted from the workshops on Cultural Insight.

Xingyu Liu is a Chinese international student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations. She came to London after graduating from high school. She is taking beginners, Spanish classes. During her free time, she likes learning and practising Latin Dance and Ballroom Dance for dance competitions. She is a proud owner of two cats and enjoys taking care of them. She plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Chinese Studies upon graduation.

My experience with Cultural Insight Workshops

If I had to describe Cultural Insight workshops in three words I would definitely choose – interesting, exceptional and valued. I must say I signed-up because my classmates, who later became my good friends suggested that we go all together to get GEP points and meet new people. It was less than a month while I was studying at university, but I’ve heard of GEP points a lot and decided it would be really good for my future to try something like this. I signed up and kinda forgot about it so when I got the reminder, I thought I do not want to go but because of my responsibility I went and was not disappointed at all. 

Tina

First things first, when I came into the room where the first workshop took place, it instantly felt so warm, as if I was back home and then it became even better. I must say I love attention and when one of our workshop tutors was talking with me and about me it felt even more better. I believe that the topics for these workshops were amazingly suitable for students and their individualities. The first one called ‘Your voice – Your community’ was one of my favourites. The idea that you matter as an individual just as much as society in whole is really important. Some people forget that they have right and voice and I believe that workshops like that could be provided for more students to show them that they matter. 

My most favourite topic was ‘Global Dexterity’ and that is because of only one thing. We were reading poems in our native languages. This was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. Because I come from a small country, I could not hear many languages in my everyday life and there is it… You are sitting on a chair in a circle and people around you stand up and start reading some gorgeous pieces which are their favourites. You can understand them not even knowing the language.

Emotions, intonation, pauses, softer and louder moments, all this helps you truly understand the person on the whole new spiritual level. You understand that you live in this moment and it is beautiful.

Tina

The whole atmosphere of workshops was so good, and I could honestly see the interest of our tutors. It is exceptional when people are so interested in what they do. I want to thank them for making this project because I found a lot of new information and now can better understand myself and those people around me. It will definitely help me in achieving new amazing heights. Thank you!!! 

If I could return to October, I would probably tell everyone to come and join the Cultural Insight family. I found new people who became my friends, new information about different topics and new thoughts and views. If you read till the end, I strongly encourage you to sign up for all CI workshops in a new academic year, you will not regret it!

Kristina Pazekova (Tina) is from a small country Estonia. Her hometown is Tallinn and she always wanted to move to a bigger country.  This is the reason she chose London and the UK overall. Tina finished ballet school so she really enjoys dancing when she is free. Tina also enjoys cooking, reading and watching movies. Cinema world is her passion and this is why she and her classmate created a new society called ’Cinematheque’. Although Tina is studying Marketing management, she attempts to try herself as an actress in short movies. In the near future, she would love to create her personal Instagram blog and also try some modelling.

Cultural Insight 2018-19 project won an award!

The Cultural Insight team’s 18-19 project is highly commended for Paul Webley Award for Innovation in International Education!

Led by Dr Crystal Tsay, Dr Yang Yang, and Dr Jing Luo, and supported by two PhD students Jingwen Qu and Sen Wang, the Cultural Insight project team designed and delivered five bespoke workshops to develop Chinese Direct Entry (CDE) students’ psychological and social capital, enabling them to use personal and social resources to cope with cross-cultural learning challenges, such as learning the UK Higher Education (HE) system, homesickness, isolation, and social integration.

The review panel commented:

“I’d also like to give a highly recommended to the Greenwich project which I think for me was probably the best read but also had some brilliant outcomes and realisations. It challenges sector, and indeed their own, assumptions that Chinese students need ‘different’ support and actually transitioning to HE is difficult for many students, including those from the UK “In retrospect, what the project team offered to CDEs was actually support for learners who attend the UKHE for the first time without sufficient skills and confidence to develop resources to become independent and resilient learners.”

The project funder, UK Council for International Student Affairs said the project and the issues it dealt with is currently extremely relevant in the sector with the OfS, rightly, examining attainment and participation gaps between POLAR/IMD, BAME, disabled students and the importance of transition into HE. They were also delighted to see that the immediate impact of this project. That is, University of Greenwich supported the team this year to continue the bespoke workshop provision to a wider range of students, including students from all cultural backgrounds and at all HE levels.

The final report can be accessed from the UKCISA website.

Author: Dr Crystal Tsay

Cultural Insight 2019-20: Workshops to help you find success in Greenwich’s Global Village

  • Is this your first time studying at a University in the UK? 
  • Do you want to learn how to navigate yourself in a multicultural environment at the University of Greenwich? 
  • Would you like to meet and make international friends you might not have met?
  • Are you concerned about communicating effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds? 
  • Do you want to become a better version of yourself by getting out of the comfort zone? 

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, the workshops will be beneficial for you.

Each workshop will be delivered at least once at Avery Hill and Greenwich campus – see the events listings below for details of the workshops, where they are taking place and how to book. 

In the workshops, students from different backgrounds can learn about UK Higher Education and how to build communication confidence, gain skills to help improve their employability and develop cultural intelligence (CQ). More importantly, you will meet friends outside of your faculty and have fun! 

The Cultural Insight project team worked with Chinese International students last year and they endorsed the workshops saying:

There are several reasons that attracted me to this workshop. The first is the diversification of activities, including games, presentation, critical thinking and stories sharing.  Moreover, the staff in the workshop were excellent,  sharing their personal stories as incentives to us.

These workshops have helped freshers like me to integrate into English learning and life more quickly. The most useful help was to enhance my confidence in cross-cultural communications.

Rewards

Lunch or dinner is provided at the workshop.  On fulfilling set criteria, students are eligible for:

  • 10 Greenwich Employability Passport points for each workshop they attend
  • Endorsement on LinkedIn from the Cultural Insight project team
  • A certificate of completion from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

How to book a workshop

You can sign up to individual workshops using the links in the event listings below, or alternatively you can use this online form.

If you have any questions about these workshops please contact insight@gre.ac.uk

The Cultural Insight Team