You are only as strong as the people who support you: this was proved true on 28 March 2017, when Webster Vienna Private University hosted a cross-cultural workshop titled “Cultural Speed Dating & Mashup”… The event was organized by Webster Alumni´s newly established non-governmental organization, the International Cultural Diversity Organization (ICDO) and took place in the atrium of the beautiful Palais Wenkheim. The workshop was supported by the Webster Vienna Alumni Association, the Student Government Association (SGA), and was observed by distinguished ICDO adviser Dr. Anthony Loewstedt.
The interactive workshop brought together people from different nationalities to discuss national and other stereotypes, with the aim of encouraging deeper cross-cultural understanding. Many students joined our international guests on the Webster Campus to be part of the event and to help further encourage cultural interaction among migrants in Vienna.
The event was opened by the NGO´s president, Josipa Palac, who encouraged participants to take an active role in the workshop. In the first part, the so-called “Mashup”, participants were divided into groups according to their nationality. They were then asked different questions, such as “Who likes Wiener Schnitzel?”, “Who is a single child?” or “Who fears failure?”, which resulted in the nationality-based groups splitting along different lines. This exercise encouraged participants to ponder presumed national and other stereotypes, and the fact that these do not necessarily define a certain group of people or culture. As the questions got more interesting and participants became more relaxed, some individuals showed great courage by stepping alone into categories outside any group. The second part of the workshop continued with all participants taking part in a speed dating dialogue on five specific topics, with two minutes per topic. It all ended with participants sharing their own cultural experiences and agreeing to forge links to develop the acceptance of cultural differences and eliminate cultural gaps.
The ICDO was founded by three Webster alumni, Ms Josipa Palac (Graduate 2011), Mr Toni Pehar (Graduate 2010) and Ms Monika Zarucka (Graduate 2013). Its vision is to provide a forum for like-minded people living in Vienna to get to know each other, exchange stories that could lead to building new friendships, challenge stereotypes and learn more about the cultural differences among us.
Through projects such as “Cultural Speed Dating & Mashup”, the ICDO aims to raise awareness of different cultural expressions and values. The ICDO shares the core value for which Webster Vienna Private University stands, which is the belief that diversity and cross-cultural interaction make our society stronger in every aspect.