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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!!!

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