Marina: AFS NZ Global Competence Certificate (March 2021)

The AFS: Global Competence Certificate was delivered in virtual modules that would prepare us for the online sessions, where we would discuss specific topics. Regarding the modules, we would watch videos or read texts, and then we would post our experiences/thoughts on forums, where we could interact with each other over the weeks, and the more effort you put into them, the more you get out of the discussions. I enjoyed the format of the discussions, which were often in breakout rooms on Zoom and every time with different people from the group, so that over time you got to know everyone. The discussions were exciting and engaging, and session by session, everyone would feel more comfortable expressing themselves. Also, I found that most of the topics resonated with me.

What I loved about the GCC was the possibility of getting in contact with people from other Universities across New Zealand who are undertaking different programmes. At university, we sometimes only interact with people from our programme and/or campus, and I found that this diversity enriched the discussions. There were also international students in the GCC, which brings different perspectives to the topics we discussed. A challenge that I faced was that as a non-native English speaker, I am usually self-conscious and shy about online discussions. After the GCC and primarily because of the virtual meetings where I had to participate, I feel more confident in situations where I need to interact virtually.

Being self-assured in online discussions is an important skill to develop since many things are performed online nowadays, and GCC was a good start for me to overcome this obstacle. A skill that I believe is essential and that the GCC programme helped me with is cultural competence. This skill is also one of the principles in the Code of Ethical Conduct for my profession. As a future health care provider, especially in a multicultural country such as New Zealand, it is essential that I learn how to improve this skill. Differently from what I thought initially, we can learn how to be culturally competent.

The GCC enhanced previous experiences I have had to reflect on them and improve my cultural competency. Another skill that I consider essential and that we touched on that a few times is active listening. The modules provided us with examples of what kind of listeners we might be, and although I always considered myself a good listener, I was surprised to realize that was not the case. From that moment on, I have been trying to apply what I learned in the modules and discussions to be a better listener. To any student who might be interested in virtual programmes, I would definitely encourage them. It is an excellent opportunity to get to know interesting people and to broaden your horizons and perspectives.

Global Competence Certificate (GCC) | AFS Intercultural Programs

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