Multicultural work environment

Polish workers are present in every corner of the world, doing their jobs in a various cultural and exotic places. They are forced to find themselves in a new reality, functioning (often after work) in a different culture. We are used to live in a culturally homogeneous environment, which is typical for Poland.

According to intercultural psychology, the word culture “has been understood as a system of values, norms and behavior scripts, which are characteristic for particular groups and nations, going on from generation to generation. In this case, values stand for what is commonly considered as important and valuable, whereas norms suggest direction of taken actions and decisions.”[1]

The experience of meeting another culture does not always lead to the situation of mutual cognition. Multicultural approach refers to “explaining the truth and rules of human behavior. It relies on the analysis of these types of behavior in a various cultural contexts.”[2]

Many shop floors hire workers from various cultural environments. If you want to find yourself in a different cultural condition, first of all, you have to get rid of the cultural egocentrism. It is a common phenomenon, not really dangerous. Noticing the beauty of your country and culture is not problematic but this kind of attitude does not lead to knowing new cultures.

All participants of the European project called “The model of vocational training in Władysław Sikorski Upper Secondary School in Sulechów basing on the experience of the Spanish Partner”, took their first step to toss the cultural egocentrism while participating in the cultural workshops. Their aim was to near different cultures, especially the Spanish one. It was a chance to realize that there are other cultures too. Among our young generation, there is a tendency to leave the old country. When asking about the cultural knowledge of other country, we can usually hear a very poor answer. People who want to leave their homeland usually do not prepare themselves in this matter. They say that they will manage somehow and that it is enough to read something before the arrival.

This kind of attitude leads to cultural shock which naturally affects the future job of particular worker. He or she might not gain any new cultural experience and develop properly. People who are close, immature and not self-conscious are very prone to experience already mentioned cultural shock. The most frequent effects of this phenomenon can lead to the nervous breakdown, fast return and job resignation. In general, every person, leaving his/her country is liable to suffer from the cultural shock but its strength depends on the character of the previous experience and the level of exodus preparation.

While taking part in the cultural workshops, our participants worked on developing the acceptance, openness and not judging attitude. The process of eliminating the attachment towards other people, especially while using very common phrases like “it is stupid”,  “it is strange”, “he does not understand anything” led to the conclusion that what is strange is also good.

Looking at this kind of alterity helps to regard other culture in a wider perspective. It motivates to explore our knowledge in order to understand it. Many researches prove that multicultural workers are more efficient, communicative and open.

After finishing vocational practices in Spain , most of our students admitted that they managed to eradicate their weaknesses, limits and prejudice. The same opinion came from the Spanish students, undergoing their training in Poland. They also said that they gained knowledge about Poland which was quite different before they arrival.

Taking part in the foreign vocational training did not only help to gain new experience and skills but also gave a chance to find yourself in a multicultural workplace. For many our students, it was their first chance to learn so much about some different culture and life.

Ewa Helińska- Project coordinator

Martyna Mospan-translation

[1] red. M. Lipińska, Warsztaty kompetencji międzykulturowych- podręcznik dla trenerów, Warszawa 2008, s.183.

[2] op. cit. s. 183.


In 2009, when a small group of people (2 teachers and 21 students) representing the IES PEDRO JIMENEZ MONTOYA of Baza travelled to Sulechow for the first time, they couldn’t realize how this simple fact was going to change our lives in such an amazing way. Our story started when they met miss Aneta Graczyk and all the lovely people who were interested in having an exchange with a Spanish partner. Fortunately, ZSP trusted us since the beginning and, step by step, our common project was taking shape.

Nowadays, almost 7 years after that memorable moment, all the people enrolled in Vocational Education and Training, both students and teachers from Poland and Spain, agree it has been such a nice experience, has reached our expectations and that it is necessary to keep on working in the same direction, together, solving problems, tackling walls, learning form each other and improving our student’s skills.

There have been so many memories that it is impossible to summarize them in hardly a few of lines. This is not our intention, because we are aware of the difficulty of the task. Therefore, we want to apologize to all of you who had not been mentioned in these posts but your help, effort, devotion and affection will keep in our hearts, forever and ever. Thanks to everybody for making possible this project!


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Summarizing the project

The five W’s and H

Polish Group (May 2015)


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Farewell party (May 2015)

When we embarked on the project in 2013, people who were going to take the plunge in it though it would take a long time. A cooperation of 3 years could be considered good enough to share experiences, to endorse each other (both students and managers), to change our minds, to improve our skills, to overcome the difficulties, to deep in historical and cultural heritage… and, in the meantime, to enjoy spending spare time… Nevertheless, time has unfortunately gone «in a flash» and our project is nearly to be finished.

The best way to explain what this project has meant for all of us is letting students, managers and teachers have the floor:

«This experience has been amazing because I´ve learnt about my vocational training, moreover, I´ve learnt about Spanish culture and Spanish way of life in High Schools.

When I started this experience I was a bit frightened, but when I was in my working centre I felt delighted with my teachers and partners. The time was running out and I felt better in the company I was working for, so I didn´t want to leave Spain, I thought «I wish I could stay here more time», because for me, this experience has been unforgettable» (Polish apprentice).

«I strongly believe that this experience has been wonderful for me and for my company, because the students who have been working with me, have been really friendly, easy-going and hard-working people, so this made the work easier.

At the beginning I felt a bit nervous because I didn´t know if the students would be comfortable here, but when I saw their reaction I felt happy, grateful and proud of them, so I hope to have this experience again and have more Polish students, they are really good workers and they´ve helped my company a lot» (Spanish manager).

«In my opinion, this experience has been very important for me and for the High School, because it´s a way to share experiences with foreing High Schools, so it´s an «open door» so that students can meet other cultures an «VET experiences».
The experience with Polish students has been really exciting and I´m grateful with the project because I´ve learnt with them and with the managers, they´ve been a big example for the students and I hope that this experience carries on in order to get better results» (Spanish teacher).

By this point, we don’t want to have to say goodbye, because it is sad… Instead of it, «see you soon, our dear friends and good luck in your professional and personal lives». We look forward to seeing all of you again and WE WILL MISS YOU, FOLKS!!!

Polish Group (May 2014)

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Polish group (October 2013)

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The first step…

«Sulechów, dn. 18 maja 2013r

My name is Ewa Helinska, I served as the coordinator of the project “The model of vocational trainings in Zespół Szkół Ponadgimnazjalnych w Sulechowie worked out on the basis of the Spanish partner school.” The contacts with you in English will suit Mr. John Kostyszak acting as an assistant of a coordinator.

We both hope that together we will develop a new approach to students’ vocational trainings in secondary schools, which will be implemented by a wide range of Polish schools.

To achieve objectives of the project, which is pointing to improve the quality of vocational trainings of students in the Lubuskie Province on the example of the organization of practical training in Sulechów- following the solutions used in your school, we should have a good understanding in our cooperation.

The agreement of the Project was signed by our Marshal’s Office on 16th April 2013. Then came a selection of Project Management. Therefore, it was necessary to make some changes in the schedule of the implementation of some activities. For elaboration of our cooperation I am going to remind you our common actions:

1.- During the duration of the project the exchange of information and experience between project partners will be provided (till 15.06.2015).

2.- October 2013. A study visit of three Polish teachers for 4 days is scheduled (4 days with arrival and departure day). The purpose of the visit will be to know the solutions used by you at your organization of vocational training for students, such as meeting with the employer, which is implemented in practice.

3.- October 2013. Traineeship by eight students and one tutor for four weeks in the competition: hotelier, tourism and catering service. According to the requirements of the ESF Office, the practice must begin and end in October 2013.

4.- In the second quarter of 2014, internship with your employer for a group of 10 students from Poland and two teachers is scheduled. Participants will be from the following professions: hotelier 4 persons, catering 6.

5.- In the second quarter of 2014, study visit of four Polish vocational teachers for four days to explore the knowledge of the ways of organizing and conducting professional practices at your place . Please suggest the term, it can be the same dates as for practical training by the Polish youth, in May 2014.

6.- Third quarter of 2014 – We will provide apprenticeships for students from Spain in Poland. Please suggest a month and indicate the number of persons in each profession.

7.- 2015 first quarter, trainee for 8 pupils with one teacher from Poland in Spain.

8 / May 2015: conference in Sulechów summarizing the project. Participation is provided for four people from your school.

We will be very grateful for any information concerning the organization and the progress of the implementation of apprenticeships for students . We want to improve the way they are organized in our school, and developed model widely promoted in other schools. So please send a multimedia presentation about your school, any brochures , folders-all possible handouts. If possible, please send copies of documents which students have to fill out for the practice and your documentation which shall be fill out by tutors.
All the planned activities are expected to contribute to the improvement of our vocational training, and thus help young people to achieve a good start in their adult life.

I hope very much to have a fruitful cooperation between our schools for the benefit of the Polish and Spanish youth, who thanks to this project will be able to experience an unique adventure, to know the partner’s country, culture and gain new experiences.

Yours sincerely,»

Candidates’ selection procedure

One of the most important aspect to consider from the moment our school decides to enroll in an international project under the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP has been designed to enable people, at any stage of their life, to take part in stimulating learning experiences, as well as developing education and training across Europe) is, without a shadow of a doubt, to select the appropriate students who are taking part in it. The number of applications they have filled since we started to offer the opportunity of developing the professional module of vocational training with enterprises abroad (far away from the Spanish border) have been increasing year by year, wether they are deeply interesting in living the experience or they have heard the previous year student’s comments about that.

Regardless of their thoughts, the people responsible of the VET projects, supported by the Foreign Language Departments, must take the final decision about who and who not can participate focusing in the student’s ability to take advantage of the learning outcomes (LO) they are supposed to reach.

They are in charge of developing informative activities addressed to the school community, promoting the internationalization of vocational education and training, besides raising the quantity and quality of learning mobility, selecting the most suitable candidates to take part in these European projects, as well as motivating them, approving and monitoring interinstitutional agreements for study mobility and learning agreements…

According to this, our School has established a formal procedure of acting which includes:

– to fill in the following form, in order to get general information about the candidates

Applicant’s questionnaire

– to request to student’s professional field teachers their opinion about his/her skills by means of a report that will be signed by the Head of Department.

Visto bueno FCT departamentos

– to have a personal interview with the candidates in which we gather more information about their mental maturity, their abilities to live alone, their way of facing and solving the problems in different hypothetical situations they can live abroad and so on.

Apart from that, we are permanently being supervised by the European Project Coordinator, Miss Ángeles Gabella Barro and her team members, from the General Directorate of Vocational Education and Training, in order to assure the quality of the selection procedure.

The Vocational Education and Training in the IES Pedro Jiménez Montoya

Commited to proving the best possible learning environment, IES Pedro Jimenez Montoya takes part in several European initiatives, including Leonardo and Erasmus programs, both related to offer our Vocational Education and Training students the possibility of developing their professional traineeship abroad, focusing on improving their Learning Outcomes.

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