Seven students from the University of Economics – Varna successfully completed the third PROMINENCE Intensive Programme Practising Cultural Intelligence across Cultures (16-18 November 2020). This was the third and final student training under the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships PROMINENCE Project (Promoting Mindful Encounters through Intercultural Competence and Experience, 2017 -2020).
Over forty students from Europe, Africa, Northern and Southern America took part in this intensive programme (IP). Students from the partner universities: Aschaffenburg (Germany), University of Economics in Bratislava (Slovakia), Debrecen (Hungary), Katowice (Poland), Savoie (France), Seinäjoki (Finland) and the University of Economics - Varna (Bulgaria) worked on international marketing strategies in virtual cross-cultural teams, with the University of Mont Blanc Savoie hosting the event online.
Prior to the event, the students were assigned to do research and write reports. During the IP, the students had to develop marketing campaigns for focal brands in different European markets. Dr Stephane Ganassalie, Associate Professor at the University of Mont Blanc Savoie, summarised the objectives of this final IP:
"We wanted the students to experience all stages of product development in the beer market, within an intercultural context. Students’ task was to take into account cultural differences in two European countries and define their marketing mix accordingly. Students were assigned to international teams and were collaborating via online tools and they could enjoy a truе immersive cross-cultural situation."
Initially planned to take part in Annecy in March 2020, the third Intensive Program had to be held online in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet the shortened virtual version turned out to be a great success. Dr. Troy Wiwczaroski, Associate Professor at Debrecen University and the PROMINENCE Coordinator, commented:
"One of the unfortunate weaknesses of some EU projects has always been that partners team up to work on a common project task, but still often end up individually developing their own parts, which are then put together in a final, patchwork-type version. The current situation actually required the partners to work together more closely to ensure a seamless harmony in the program elements. The same applies to how the international student teams cooperated over the three days. What we witnessed transpiring was our project’s true goal coming to fruition: mindful, respectful and cooperative communication towards reaching a common goal, through openness, honesty and personal dedication to a task and especially to one’s team. I could not be prouder of my colleagues or the student participants."
PROMINENCE IPs were delivered to 150 students and were aimed at fostering international teamwork and learning about theories and practices of working across cultures. The University of Economics in Bratislava ran the First Intensive Programme Languages and Cultural Diversity in 2018 and, in 2019, Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences hosted the second IP, entitled Managing and Leading in Different Cultures, developed to foster cultural intelligence across cultures. Hyperlinks
In addition to the three intensive programmes, an online platform, PROMINENCE Interactive: www. prominenceproject.eu, was created as one of the project deliverables.
Through this EU project, all seven European university partners signed up to further develop their respective internationalisation strategies and deepen their bonds through respective Erasmus+ cooperation arrangements on student and staff mobility in place, within the EU-funded flagship programme Erasmus+.
The project ended with an international multiplier event Intercultural Competence at Work, hosted online by Seinäjoki University on 19 November 2020, seeking to share and disseminate central findings and engage stakeholders in academia and business in the discussion.
IP students from the University of Economics – Varna were happy to share some comments:
"The experience I had in this Programme was amazing! Everything was well-organized, the lectures that were presented during the 3 days were useful, and I was able to learn many new things that I could incorporate during the study process. Working in a team with people from other countries was really exciting. I made amazing new friends and we were able to create a whole brand from zero in only 3 days."
Mihaela Popazova, 4th-year International Business student
"I was excited to participate in the 3rd PROMINENCE Intensive Programme, even though initially I did not know what to expect as it was about to take place online. However, my spirit was high and I was not disappointed as the structure of the program was well-designed and tailor-made to offer a thrilling experience. Apart from the knowledge that we gained through the lectures, the new students that we met from different countries provided us with a unique opportunity to test our teamwork skills and forge new contacts. I would recommend taking part in similar events to anyone wanting to meet new people and work in an international environment. I hope I will have the chance to meet everyone in person one day!"
Stefan Filipov, 4th-year International Business student
"PROMINENCE IP3 has been one of the best projects I’ve ever taken part in my university studies. For my major it is especially important to have international experience. This project gave me the opportunity to put into practice what I’d already learnt about cultural differences and work with a brilliant team of inspiring young people with a lot of ideas to share. To be able to work together in such a short period of time is a hard task but a very rewarding one.
The event was very well-organized even in the uncertain situation of a global pandemic. We were able to gain the much needed experience of intercultural communication and team work. I believe this project has given me a better chance of understanding how intercultural differences could work for our benefit."
Gloria Atanasova, 4th-year International Economic Relations student
UE – Varna current interdisciplinary team: Dr Petar Petrov - team leader; Diana Miteva, senior lecturer – team member; Kristana Ivanova, senior lecturer – team member; Miroslava Ivanova – coordinator, Gergana Naneva – accountant.
Former co-workers: Boris Abrashev, senior lecturer – team leader; Assoc. Petia Dankova – team leader.
PROMINENCE Interactive: www. prominenceproject.eu
25 Nov 2020