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Self-Identity & Intercultural/intergenerational Learning

COVID-19 needs to be addressed

Due to the impact of Covid-19 we had to move the entire course online, including the community component, which originally was planned to take place at the community centre in the form of art & reminiscence workshops with older adults. Because the Pensioners Centre was closed during lockdown, in agreement with the centre leadership, the planned workshops were transformed into phone conversations with older adults on the impact Covid-19 had/has on their lives.

The phone conversations (three for each participant) were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed. The findings will contribute to a bank of oral stories in relation to the impact Covid-19 had on the community of older adults in South London, where the Community Centre is based.

Country: United Kingdom

Year: 2020-2021

Institution: King’s College London

# of students: 9

Person in charge: Donata Puntil & Patricia Zunszain

Email: donata.puntil@kcl.ac.uk

Interaction with beneficiaries: Virtual

Academic Degree: Master

Discipline(s): Psychology | Medicine and health | Arts

Community Service Area & ODS: Good health and well-being | Cultural diversity | Partnership for the goals

Brief description

This module intends to introduce postgraduate students in Mental Health Studies to ways to apply positive psychology and intercultural awareness to their own lives as students and beyond their university experience, and also put these into practice through engaging with older adults in the community. The module will allow students to reflect on their own identity and that of the older adults they interact with. As loneliness amongst student populations and older adults is well-documented, this module aims to address this issue, by bringing the groups together in a structured, academic and yet informal, way. As PGT students may only spend a year in London, and many come from overseas, the module aims to allow them to exhibit a greater understanding of and involvement in their local London community as a result of participation in this module. We expect that this intergenerational exchange intervention will benefit both generations with a sense of belonging and enhanced levels of wellbeing.

The module also offers students the opportunity to engage with a wider non-academic community outside their students’ peer group and will put them in contact with a variety of social and cultural backgrounds, exposing them to multicultural and multigenerational learning experiences that might otherwise be difficult to encounter within university life. A key educational aim of this module is the intercultural component supported by a guided and gradual awareness and reflectivity of students’ own perception of what it means to be “other”, in terms of age, cultural and social differences.
This module aims to introduce students to the fundamental principles of intercultural competence and ethnographic research. It proposes to develop perception and appreciation of different cultural perspectives and values. It will prepare students to carry out a small-scale ethnographic project by guiding and preparing students for the challenges of intercultural and cross-cultural experiences and of conflict resolution by developing practical tools to be applied in a diverse cultural environment.

This is the first year this module was delivered and, as mentioned above it had to be delivered entirely online, including the community component. Despite this challenging change of delivery and of contact with the older adults in the community (Southwark Community Centre), the course was highly successful and students’ evaluation was extremely positive, highlighting what we hope to achieve wit this module. They described how meeting people from a different generation, race, gender and social class made them reflect on their identity and on their notion of belonging and of service to the community. The self-reflective component of the module (students had to complete a self-reflective diary and a final self-reflective report as part of the assessment) seemed to have been well-received by students who contributed to the module with high levels of insight and of reflexivity in relation to their overall participation to the course and to their contact with older adults.

We hope to be able to run the module again for next academic year.