The Massey Kiwi Friend Program: Transforming Attitudes through a Community of Practice
HRD professionals increasingly need to develop skills to work within multi-cultural settings. This often requires a fundamental shift in World View. We might hope this shift would happen naturally with internationalization of campuses and increasing numbers of courses on Diversity. The nature of academic life often means that it does not. Paradoxically, students taking courses on diversity resist working in diverse groups themselves, because of perceived increased workload and threat to their grades. The 'Community of Practice' concept suggests that social context is central to learning. Transformational learning can occur when people seek to develop relationships with others in a community of shared interest. The Massey Kiwi Friend Program (MKFP) is an initiative designed to create a community of practice in which future managers have high-intensity cross-cultural experiences and engage in a variety of reflective exercises aimed at transforming world views. At the same time, MKFP provides international students with an induction to life and study in New Zealand. This paper will describe the innovative design of the MKFP and examines whether the program is having a transformational impact on those involved. Data from reflective exercises indicates that the program has shifted attitudes of domestic students in the areas of: appreciation for the challenges of teaching and facilitation; sensitivity to learning needs of international students; awareness of international students as individuals; recognition of peculiarities of home culture; personal growth.
Keywords: Community of Practice, Cross-Cultural competence, Transformational learning, International students
Dr Phil Ramsey
Department of Human Resource Management, Massey University
Ms Deb Ramsey
Lecturer, Human Resource Management, Massey University