Novel initiative hopes to spark dialogue with monthly ‘Intercultural Conversations’
2017-10-15 11:55:10 -
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By Chinedu Onyejelem

 

A new intercultural initiative “designed to promote respect, interaction, and exchange between people of different cultures” is to take place in Dublin.

 

Metro Éireann has learned that Intercultural Conversations aims to bring together people to share knowledge about “culture, diversity, and interculturalism in Dublin and Ireland” at free informal gatherings open to the public each month.

 

The project is an initiative of Sietar Ireland, a non-profit comprising people “who recognise the significance of an intercultural society”. 

 

Members are also involved in intercultural communication, education, training and research, and working to make people more aware of how culture affects us all.

 

“Our goal is to share stories and knowledge to increase our intercultural competence,” says Tamara Thorpe, interim board member of Sietar Ireland. “Topics we will discuss include different cultural dimensions such as time, communication styles, identity, hierarchy and so on. 

 

“We also want to discuss Irish business culture, cultural adjustment, culture shock, and re-entry.”

 

Thorpe says that a direct result of Ireland’s rise in immigration since the turn of the century is that “individuals, communities, social services, and businesses are exposed to a greater diversity of cultural practices and preferences. Understanding difference is not a natural ability, it has to be taught and learned.”

 

Thorpe explains: “It is important that we are all equipped to accept difference, and even adjust our own preferences to foster effective intercultural relationships. 

 

“Since Ireland is in the early stages of forming a multicultural society, it is imperative that these discussions are happening now, and individuals and leaders in communities and organisations are developing the necessary skills to build these intercultural bridges.”

 

For those who cannot attend the monthly Intercultural Conversations, Thorpe says they can still play a part in supporting a diverse Ireland. 

 

“In our everyday lives we encounter people who are different from us, and we encourage people to be curious. Be willing to ask questions and learn how people from other places see and engage with the world,” she says. “It is our hope that the conversations begin with us and continue in homes, communities and the workplace.”

 

The first of Sietar Ireland’s Intercultural Conversations will be held on Sunday 29 October from 4pm-6pm at Hogans Bar on South Great Georges Street in Dublin from 4pm to 6pm.

 

For further information or to register, find Sietar Ireland on Facebook.

 

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