Guiding Foreign Students in Practical Placement – Sharing Ideas and Good Practices

Piloting of Soulbus is starting

eCoach pilot_a

Following the presentation of Soulbus eLearning at the 3rd kickoff meeting held in Zagreb, our WP3 partners have directed the consortium to get everything ready for the 1st pilot. It is one of the two pilots that are planned throughout the project with the goal of refining the content that has been designed so that it meets the needs of teachers and mentors and delivers what is promised: multicultural competencies for teachers and mentors training professionals working or planning to work in a multicultural environment.

Where did the content design start?

Teachers at higher education institutions and mentors in working life partners were asked to answer a series of questions back in January of 2014, the answers were summarized and our WP2 partners produced a case study repository that was given to WP3 partners to use as guidelines to develop the content. The WP3 partners presented their initial plan for content design at the 2nd kick off meeting held in Tartu (Estonia) in April of 2014. The finalized content was brought for presentation to Zagreb and is now ready to be studied and refined.

How do we refine the content?

30 teachers and mentors have been selected to study the developed content in detail during the 1st (of the 2 planned) pilot(s). They will go through the pages of text, pictures, diagrams, movie clips, articles on the web as well as scientific journals that have been included or referenced in the content. They will observe and look for clues what is clear and done well, what is vague and needs polishing as well as where the marks have been missed and need to be rethought and redesigned in order to clearly teach multicultural competencies. All of these will be given in written form and used as basis to refine the content.

Why are the pilots so important?

More than a 100 professionals are planned to participate in the 2 pilots. This is especially important as each one of these professionals will be providing impressions from their own point of view as a professional as well as an individual, covering teaching at the higher education institution and mentoring in the working life partner institution for a range of professions – education, rehabilitation, health and social care. By piloting and redesigning content, e-Coach will offer content that relates to these professions, deals with contemporary issues in multiculturalism and addresses challenges that professionals will meet in multicultural environments.

Ready, steady, LogIn!

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Merry Christmas


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Christmas special: Cultural awareness in Christmas time

Merry Christmas! It’s a common sentence in December. But what is a “merry Christmas”? Is it about the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ, is it about Santa Claus and the presents he brings, about the decorated Christmas tree, about a big dinner together with family, is it a combination or is it about something else I didn’t mention yet?

To get an more extensive (Western or American) view about the meaning of Christmas you can click on this article. There you will find a collection of research done by several authors who observed different aspects of Christmas and how it reflects on different levels of society, behaviors, social and material bonds that are shared between individuals. Holiday depression is mentioned too.

What does Christmas mean to you? What pops up in your mind when you think about Christmas?

Within different cultures, there are many points of view about the meaning of Christmas and how to celebrate. Some examples are given to make you more aware that Christmas is not a definite concept, neither is the imagery that is present. Can you imagine Jesus being depicted as a colored baby?

If you would like to know more, please click on this article and read more about Christmas in Africa.

If you would like to see some more examples of how Christmas is celebrated around the world, click here.

In the well known (mostly American) Christmas movies, such as Home Alone, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Christmas is associated with cold weather and snow. But in the other half of the world, 25th of December is summer time as you can see from the picture below. You can also try it out by planning your next Christmas holidays Down Under!

christmas in summer

Read this article about a child’s Christmas in America[1]. To give you an perspective on the modern American Christmas celebration.

Some countries are worried about the widespread of this American Christmas[2] : ‘This article centers on the celebration of Christmas, the most important western festival, in the Chinese mainland to reflect cultural invasion from the west and provide approaches to cultural protection in China with the acceleration of globalization in 21st century.’

Can you imagine these worries?

Another example of globalisation of Christmas can be found in this article about Christmas in Japan[3]. A mix of KFC, Christmas ideology and Japanese cake together make another unique Christmas.

Hopefully, after reading the literature and watching the websites, you have a broader view on the celebration and meaning of Christmas. Now let’s quit this little lecture, go celebrate Christmas in the way you like the most (not celebrating, but happy with the free days included) and let’s respect the different opinions upon this subject. Be flexible and open-minded, keep it peaceful. If you want to know some more about strengthening your flexibility and open-mindedness, do not hesitate to check out our e-Coach Multicultural Competencies. More information on this blog.


[1] Belk, R.W (2004) A Child’s Christmas in America: Santa Claus as Deity, Consumption as Religion. Journal of American Culture 10 (1) pp. 87-100.

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3rd Kick-off meeting concluded in Zagreb

The 3rd Soulbus kick-off meeting was held in Croatia, on the 19. and 20. of November. The meeting was organized by the partner from the University of Zagreb and hosted at the Faculty for Education and Rehabilitation.


A detail, the abbreviation of the Faculty name ERF in the Slavic alphabet from the 9th century

This is a scheduled meeting so representatives from their respective packages come together and update in person each other on how the work is progressing. A major event on the meeting was unveiling of Part A part of the e-Coach platform which is delivering the Multicultural course by our partners from the Netherlands who have been working on it since the multicultural case repository was introduced in Tartu! The WP3 partners presented the content as well as tell the story behind the development to what we have today. Our USA partners joined in to provide insight and their expertise on the topic.

The new e-Coaching looks wonderful! It is a product of creative minds that found interesting and entertaining ways to deal with the challenges that teachers and mentors working in multicultural environments face today. The content is filled with texts, stories, pictures and movie clips. And to give you a hint, here is a little preview!




Here is a clip on how Culture is perceived by different people. Enjoy learning!

what is cutlure youtube

After the presentation of the eCoaching programme and the Communication and Dissemination as well as the Exploitation plans, the HEIs and WLPs turned to their group meetings where the discussion reflected on what was heard during the two day meeting as well as how to proceed in further developing our project.

eCoach! Soon to be on a LogIn screen near you!

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Meeting in Zagreb, Croatia


Starting Wednesday, the 19th of November, begins the 3rd Kick off meeting of the Soulbus consortium. The meeting takes place halfway through the project at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences located in Zagreb, Croatia.

Over the course of two days, the completed leg of this project will be summarized and the WP leaders will give the rest of the team an overview of the activities that have been done. To recap, Soulbus consortium is a collection of 13 higher education institutions and working life partners working together to provide a multicultural coaching programme and course for teachers and mentors. Each partner pair is based in their own country and has access to a virtual sharing platform and meetings via Skype allows for sharing of information. These face-to-face meetings offer the chance to present details and other interesting findings in the project. These meetings were held at Saxion University in Enschede (the Netherlands) and another at the Tartu Health Care College (Estonia).

The agenda for this meeting is concerned with taking a closer look at A part of Multicultural coaching programme the WP3 team has prepared based on the results of the Multicultural case repository. The programme itself is divided into parts A and B; part A focuses on the general multicultural contents and competencies while part B is more country and HEI’s professional field specific. The head of WP3 will present and explain the development process of the six indicators and how these are operationalized into charts of specific knowledge and skills to be used as evaluation criteria to tell if one has become competent. Finally, everyone will give their impressions and suggestions on how the content might be improved.

The meeting will close with the steering group and peer group meetings where partners reflect and share their experiences, feelings and thoughts on the project.

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Multicultural coaching programme design


Our activities are slowly taking shape in the form of a coaching programme that will enable you to become multiculturally competent!

In January of 2014, our WP2 partners and San Jose University designed and carried out a questionnaire. The collected information was analysed and summarized and distributed to partners in February for review. Following an analysis by each partner and taking into account the suggestions, our WP3 partners started working on building a multicultural coaching programme for the modern professional. They presented their initial thoughts at the 2nd kick-off meeting held in Tartu Health Care College in Estonia in April of 2014.

Based on the Case study repository designed in WP2,  our WP3 partners went further with research in an effort to come up with the most relevant and up to date findings. They found that Green et al. (2005) emphasized importance of cultural literacy, cross-cultural knowledge and skill in direct practice as well as knowledge about personal limitation. Campinha-Bacote (1999) defined four major elements of cultural competence: cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural skill and cultural encounters. Drabble et al. (2012) included five interrelated but distinct dimensions of diversity, two already familiar (cultural knowledge and competency) and brining something new: dynamics of power, privilege and oppression; positionality and self-reflexivity and respectful partnership. Finally, their research was rounded up by Kosteljik et al. (2006) and their description of international competencies:

  • cultural empathy the ability to emphasize with the feelings, thoughts and behaviors of members of groups with a different cultural background
  • open mindedness having an open and unbiased attitude towards members of a group with other cultural norms and values
  • social initiative: The ability to make contact with people from other cultures
  • flexibility: to switch from one mode to another, depending on what is desired in a particular or appropriate context
  • self-efficacy: represents the level of confidence, which is operationalized by looking at the extent to which you ‘dare’ to lecture one hour in the English language
  • emotional stability: the ability to deal with psychological stress. In an intercultural context one is indeed confronted with different cultural and interpersonal situations that must be coped with

Cultural awareness rounds it all up; it is being aware of how your own cultural background, experiences and attitudes, values and biases influence interaction with others in your environment.

These aspects have been further developed into competence/indicator charts with categories: description, occupational roles, context, tasks and activities and results. These help in defining the indicators  and competences. This is necessary as they show the context in which these are performed as well as the necessary abilities, knowledge and skill sets. Criteria are also defined and serve for developing tests. Personal features are also included to steer and guide performance of an individual. All these put together serve to assist in developing the content for the programme.

You can see we are approaching this topic from all angles. Try something different, try multicultural competencies!


Campinha-Bacote J. A model and instrument doe, addressing cultural competence in healthcare? Journal of Nursing Education 1999; 38: 181–84.

Drabble L, Sen S, Oppenheimer S Y. Integrating a Transcultural Perspective into the Social Work Curriculum: A descriptive and Exploratory Study. Journal of Teaching in Social work 2012; 32 (2).

Green, R.G., Kiernan-Stern, M., Balley, K., Chambers, K., Claridge, R., Jones, G., Kitson, G., Leek, S., Leisey, M., Vadas, K., & Walker, K. The Multicultural Counseling Inventory: A measure for evaluating social work student and practitioner self-perceptions of their multicultural competence. Journal of Social Work Education, 41(2), 191-208.

Kostelijk E, Julsing M, Versteeg A. Onderzoek Internationalisering docenten HanzeHogeschool Groningen. Groningen: Hanze Connect, 2006.

van der Woning René JA. International Competencies. A quantitative study to explore if lecturers of the Faculty of Social Work and the Faculty of Health are familiar with “International competencies” and use those competencies while lecturing. Birmingham City University / Birmingham, Saxion University / Enschede – Deventer. Master Thesis, 2013.

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Activities, developments, articles and presentations of the project


The goal of the Soulbus project is to provide multicultural competencies teachers, mentors and finally students. To achieve this we examined muticultural experiences and expectations which were summarized and analyzed to build a eLearning course that will be piloted and updated. Along with the aforementioned activities, project partners have undertaken a series of activities to further the idea and goals of Soulbus to the academic as well as the general community to convey the benefits of the project.

All partners held meetings in their individual institutions as well as joined meetings to work out further details as each partner pair is responsible for managing a working package to contribute to the project.

For  two months now our partners in the Netherlands have been working on the Work Package 3, The Multicultural Coaching Programme. The professional roles with focus on multiculturalism have been defined. Professional competencies are described and serve to identify the criteria that indicate a candidate has acquired the competency; in other words “the pass mark” are known. These will be evaluated through a test that will be taken at the end of the course. Their working life partner institution is busy preparing cases that will make it all the more practical and interesting. And eLearning is in the works too!

Articles on international students experiences during their stay at partner institutions were also published. Students discussed their understanding of the necessity of cultural diversity in their professional environment. It also discussed the amount of exposure they received in their academic and practical work to compare and contrast levels of services to those of their own home. An added benefit is learning to find a solution to work around the language barrier. The students point out that all of this was possible through the support of teachers and tutors.  They left their unforgettable exchange experience as stronger, more confident individuals better prepared to meet challenges in their work. We also have one story available on YouTube

Finally, the project was presented on the international level to other professionals. The 1st presentation was held at the 7th international scientific conference: Knowledge, values, beliefs and evidence in developing quality health care: the place and the role of nursing. The 2nd presentation was give at the 10th Congress: Encouraging environment for lifelong learning. Both of these were a success! Professionals from Spain, USA, England, Scotland and Bosnia met the presentation with enthusiasm and professionals with extensive interest in multicultural issues inquired further where and when to learn about the project progress and when the multicultural coaching programme will be finished.

We made a list, we are ticking off completed tasks and we will keep you posted!

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The first quarter is up

20140605aThe Soulbus project is well under way. During the past several months we have been active and below is a summary of our activities.

2013 started with partners putting forward the Soulbus application which was approved in August. The next several months were spent on brainstorming, analysing and putting good ideas on paper. These were then summarised into work packages and presented in December at the 1st kick off meeting held at Saxion University of Applied Science in Enschede, the Netherlands. The goal of Soulbus is to seek out and meet future challenges in multiculturalism.

A case study method was proposed by the Slovenian partners for gathering data. A questionnaire on multiculturalism was prepared with special attention given to several areas (mentioned in the case repository article). The completed questionnaire was circulated to all partners by the end of January. Interviews (based on the questionnaire) of mentors, teachers and students were carried out in February and served to record the experiences, views and expectations of the interviewees. These were then collected and summarised into national reports which were sent off to the College of Nursing Jesenice, responsible for preparing the case repository. The first mile was completed here.

During this time, all partners carried out activities of spreading the word about the project. Online articles confirming participation were published on the homepage of each partner. In-house meetings were held to inform colleagues about the project (aims, duration and benefits) as well as other activities to provide information to interested parties.

The Case Repository was finalised by College of Nursing Jesenice and provided to all partners in March. It served to provide insights and opinions on the direction which should be followed in designing the Multicultural Coaching Programme which represents the 2nd milestone of this project.

A 2nd kick-off meeting was held in April at the Tartu Health Care College in Tartu, Estonia. The partners prepared detailed schedules with expectations of each partner for the following months and discussed the Case Repository. The partners also discussed current project activities giving opinions on how to improve on them as well as agreeing on how to proceed:

  • the design and platform for the multicultural coaching programme
  • recruitment of teachers and mentors for the piloting of the Multicultural Coaching Programme
  • agreeing on the next meeting to follow up on activities.
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The Case Repository


An increasing number of English degree programmes are available at various universities in Europe attracting foreign applicants. Along with them, a great number of Erasmus students choose to do a period or exchange study, increasing the scope of their education providing knowledge and skills required of graduated professionals in the field. However, the guidance skills of teachers and mentors vary between countries together with the amount of experience the HEI’s have with foreign students.

The Soulbus project considered this issue and decided to study the case further. To that end, a case study method of partner countries was done to collect more information on the matter. A semi-structured interview was carried out in January 2014.; 43 participants were included consisting of teachers (15), mentors (14), international students (5) and home-country students (9). These facts were then summarized by each HEI and sent to the leader of WP2, Faculty of Health Care Jesenice for analysis. Based on the information, FHCJ produced a case repository which represents the 1st milestone in our project. The case repository is a collection of experiences described by teachers, mentors and students (international and home-country) grouped into categories listed below (followed by a brief description of the terms):

  • cultural awareness is described by Campinha-Bacote (1999) as being aware of how your own cultural background and experiences and attitudes, values, and biases influence interactions with others.
  • cultural empathy means having the ability to be empathic with the feelings, thoughts and behaviours of members of groups with a different cultural background. (van der Woning, 2013; Kosteijk et al., 2006)
  • open-mindedness entails having an open and unbiased attitude towards members of a group with other cultural norms and values. (van der Woning, 2013; Kosteijk et al., 2006)
  • cultural knowledge and skills: Cultural knowledge is the process by which you seek out and obtain education about various worldviews of different cultures. Cultural skill, involves learning how to do a competent cultural assessment. (Campinha-Bacote, 1999)
  • communication and self-efficacy:  Edgecombe et al. (2013) explain that the focus on English as a second laguage in the literature about international students stresses the vital role clear communication plays in socialisation. Self-efficacy represents the level of confidence which is operationalized by looking at the extent to which you “dare” to lecture one hour in the English language etc.(van der Woning, 2013; Kosteijk et al., 2006)
  • social initiative is best described as the ability to make contact with people from other cultures (van der Woning, 2013; Kosteijk et al., 2006)
  • emotional stability is described by Van der Woning (2013) and Kosteijk et al. (2006) as  the ability to deal with psychological stress in an intercultural context, one is indeed confronted with different cultural and interpersonal situations that must be coped with.

This repository is a stepping stone to producing the Multicultural coaching programme; next, an eLearning module will be designed based on the programme and submitted to a virtual platform. The module will be evaluated and modified accordingly and then be piloted for further use and development. You will be informed in due time, just follow us!


Campinha-Bacote J. A model and instrument doe, addressing cultural competence in healthcare? Journal of Nursing Education 1999; 38: 181–84.

Kostelijk E, Julsing M, Versteeg A. Onderzoek Internationalisering docenten HanzeHogeschool Groningen. Groningen: Hanze Connect, 2006.

van der Woning René JA. International Competencies. A quantitative study to explore if lecturers of the Faculty of Social Work and the Faculty of Health are familiar with “International competencies” and use those competencies while lecturing. Birmingham City University / Birmingham, Saxion University / Enschede – Deventer. Master Thesis, 2013.


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Meeting in Tartu, Estonia


Today, 1.4.2014, starts the 2nd Kick off meeting of the Soulbus consortium in Tartu Health Care College, located in Tartu, Estonia. Partner representatives are joined with USA partners from San Jose University who will be providing their valuable support in designing a Multicultural coaching programme for our European colleagues for the benefit of our students and future professionals in the fields of education, rehabilitation, health and social care. This programme should help teachers and mentors relate better to students coming from other countries and cultures when teaching academia and mentoring in practical placement.

The meeting is scheduled to take place on the 1st and 2nd of April where partners will discuss the activities so far as well as provide further insight to other partners regarding action plans for work packages that follow. Also, the case study repository will be analysed in a panel discussion with every partner contributing their thoughts on what content should be emphasized in the online coaching programme. We are one step closer to our ultimate goal, providing multiculutural competencies to teachers and mentors for the benefit of our students and future professionals. It’s no joke! (regarding April fool’s day!)

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