“A Mosaic of Cultures” was the theme of the conference I participated in in Seville, Spain. It is a conference for international educators, arranged by EAIE, European Association for International Education. It is annual conference, and in September 2018 it will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, and the year after, in 2019, in Helsinki. The conference is a great place to learn, to meet colleagues from other countries and look for new partners. EAIE’s goal is internationalization of higher education in Europe.
During the conference, I attended a session: “The science of happiness: positive psychology in international student guidance”
The speakers were: Frank Haber, Jacobs University Bremen GmbH, Germany, and Jessica Price, Culturally Sensitive Training & Psychotherapy Practice, Germany.
What is positive psychology?
According to Frank Haber, positive psychology focuses on what makes life worth living: positive emotions, character strengths and positive habit building. For higher education practitioners seeking to improve the student experience and quality of life on their campuses, this area of practice could be of great use.
In addition to acculturative stress, international students go through transition while on exchange: the next step in their lives is - adulthood. They process becoming more independent, they negotiate identity, dealing with such questions like “who am I” The transition may cause them anxiety, confusion, homesickness, among other distressing emotions.
Jessica Price delivers a course “Introduction to Positive Psychology. A Course for Non-Psychologists” for international students coming to the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen. The goal of the course is to present them with the core concepts that would be particularly helpful for those who struggle with acculturative stress and identity development. The course has four pillars:
You can read more on Jessica’s blog: http://culturallysensitivepsychotherapy.eu/the-science-of-happiness-and-cultural-adaptation/
Frank Haber gives five questions as a tip for international coordinators, who have a confused student in their office, wondering what decisions to make in their lives. Questions like: “Should I complete my placement abroad or should I stay at home?” Coordinators can help the students by asking five particular questions. The questions:
I actually practised this with my students already, and the results are amazing. The students feel more happy, and prepared to solve their problems and make their decisions. After all, it is the meaning to give the students the tools to find the solutions themselves, not to give them the right answers.