Employment Programme


Cultural Orientation Through Dialogue and Mutual Understanding

by Mario Gerada



Over the past year JRS Malta organized four employment orientation programmes. While we covered the basics of communication and helped participants prepare for a job interview and roleplay interviews during these programmes, the key component of our training courses was always dialogue. Inspired by the Paulo Freire method, facilitators met those participating in these training courses as people who already have knowledge and experience. The training course offered the opportunity for dialogue, discussion, exchange of information and knowledge, while also helping those participating become more aware of cultural differences and discuss how to negotiate these differences.

Adaptation was a word we often explored, discussing with those participants in what ways they feel ready or not, to adapt to their new social environments. A number of discussions took place around the questions: What do you like about Malta and what is it that you don’t like about us? What are you learning from the ‘Maltese culture’ and in what ways do you feel you can contribute? What new information or customs would you like to tell us about, for us to learn from your own cultural heritage?

 

One simple exercise we use, which is a lot of fun, is asking those participants (including JRS staff), to mention their favourite author or book, film director or film, musician or song and allow for some time to learn about that person or work. It is an incredibly enriching exercise which helps participants learn about each other, create friendship and exchange information. It is one of the most enriching exercises that we use, in which we are all learners.

Mahmud, a cultural mediator at JRS, says: “I find this programme very practical because it helps refugees better understand Malta and its culture they are living in. It was a good opportunity for them to learn many things like the law in Malta and what rights one is entitled to. The programme not only provides information regarding employment in Malta but also encourages participants to embrace the differences and similarity in cultural diversity.”


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