The University of Limerick as one of the European higher education institutions which is currently involved in an EU funded project SONETOR invited a number of participants from different cities across Ireland to become involved in the project. All of these proposed participants have expertise in dealing with immigrants and immigration communities/associations. Through the development of innovative Vocational Education Training content and programmes this project aims to enhance the knowledge, skills and competencies of people who are dealing with immigrants as Cultural Mediators. In addition to the formal modules the recognition of informal and non-formal learning will be a key element of the project.
The fourth SONETOR workshop which is conducted in Ireland was held in Galway city and 20 people who are dealing with immigrants and immigration communities were involved in the workshop. This workshop which was held on November 8th 2013 in Ballybane Enterprise Centre in Galway city was organized by University of Limerick as the national moderator of the SONETOR project in Ireland in cooperation with Galway County Council. Through this workshop which ran for more than 4 hours, the participants were introduced to the SONETOR project and its dimensions, the concept of cultural mediation was defined; and then, participants’ attention was drawn to some opportunities which are being provided for them through this project. The two broad areas were firstly for them to be part of a developing European-wide community of cultural mediators. Through the use of new and emerging social media they would develop access to a wide range of knowledge and through this develop their own skills and competencies. In addition through the development of guided and unguided learning scenarios they have the opportunity to benefit from these educational opportunities from their home and at their preferred and free time. In a very structured approach the participants were introduced to each element of the training platform and instructed as to how to use and engage with the various elements of the platform.
During the training participants were encouraged to give their views on the different elements and in small group sessions were encouraged to use the tool and discuss how they might develop material such as unguided scenarios for the platform. At the end of the workshop, participants were asked to review the platform and requested to make contribution into the platform. Another main purpose of this workshop was to receive feedback from the participants. Therefore, they took part in the discussions aimed at critically assessing the platform and to also develop their own networks and learning groups to facilitate ongoing engagement with the project. Further discussions took place both formally (within the workshop) and informally (at the lunch and coffee times) .
There was significant interest in all aspects of the project and the platform. In particular participants noted that as there were very few formal programmes available to them they wished to register for the elearning modules. Some have already registered and the programmes will commence in December. In addition those representing the health sector saw possibilities of taking the work of the project and to use it as part of their cultural awareness training programmes.