This weekend, I volunteer as a uOGlobal Facilitator. ICYMI, the uOGlobal Recognition Program is a new initiative at the University of Ottawa that strives to provide domestic and international students with an opportunity to develop the skills needed to succeed in today’s global marketplace. You can learn more about uOGlobal and its program requirement here.
I first heard of the uOGlobal program in an email from the International Office which announced that they were seeking volunteer facilitators. I’ve completed two international internships – one in Jerusalem, working with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, and one in Geneva, with UNAIDS – in addition to an international study program, and firmly believe that these experiences allowed me to grow and gain new, valuable skills. I’m also very passionate about volunteering, community service and giving back to the community and knew that uOGlobal was a good fit for me!
After receiving in-depth training several weeks prior to the workshop, I felt prepared going into the workshop. I had learned several new techniques to encourage discussion and sharing between students, and even incorporated some elements of the group activity into a micro-teaching activity that I led this week. My job as a facilitator was to co-lead an experiential learning activity related to intercultural communication (I won’t share specific details about the activity here; I thought it worked exceptionally well and don’t want to spoil it for future uOGlobal participants).
What I learned as a co-facilitator is to expected the unexpected! I have teaching experience and have done countless group presentations throughout the pursuit of my academic studies, however co-facilitation is an art! I enjoyed working with my co-facilitator, but we definitely had different facilitation styles. One example was how we tried to encourage student participation: I left it more open-ended whereas my colleague took a more Socratic-like approach. As a team, we also had to adapt to the students – their level of engagement ebbed and flowed depending on the question and we needed to think on our feet, to incorporate and reformulate elements of the discussion into our questions in order to keep the conversation flowing.
I also tremendously enjoyed participating in uOGlobal following the completion of the group activity. It was wonderful to see so many students interested in intercultural skill development, willing to add to their undergraduate course load and sit in a non-required class on a Saturday morning.