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Intercultural Exchange: A Useful Tool for Honing Critical Thinking Skills

Eight weeks ago, teachers Dr. Smita Raman-Gyetvai and Laura Syms, together with 24 students from five of ENLIGHT’s partner universities, representing at least 13 different cultures, embarked on a journey.The first six weeks were spent interacting online, with participants getting to know each other—starting from the basics of everyone's studies, to addressing hard questions such as defining the most pressing issues of our time. Throughout this process, the students formed genuine bonds as they researched and discovered information about the world through a myriad of lenses.

This experience culminated in an on-site week at the University of Göttingen where students solidified their online friendships face-to-face and worked on techniques to make their voices heard. The final course project, the symposium “ENLIGHT Intellect: The NextGen Symposium on Critical Thinking in Tackling Global Issues" required each student to give a talk showcasing a novel idea stemming from their group’s research. The talks were impressive, and the forum for a comfortable and honest exchange of ideas was possible due to the atmosphere of familiarity that had been built starting with the first online meeting.

Throughout the entire process, students underwent critical thinking—revising their views, analyzing and synthesizing information, applying reasoning, and more. In the end, both the students and the educators walked away empowered, having expanded their own lenses about the discussed topics and honed their skills on how to broadcast their ideas to the world effectively.

Here is the experience from the eyes of students, who would also like to encourage you to participate in future courses:

This fruitful course will let you learn many new insights, facts and also new words in different languages that you have never heard before. Online discussions will spark your interest and you will get to think about your project with your team members. During onsite week, you will learn how to present in a TED talk style and how to think more critically. Aside from learning and improving your soft skills (4C - critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity), you will also have a lot of fun and nice memories from the on-site week, when you meet everyone in person. Teachers are very nice and friendly, always eager to help. They prepared a flawless programme and the organisation of the week was balanced - we had enough time for the course, enough free time after school and they also took us on a beautiful trip to a small medieval town! If you like travelling, practising your English, learning new facts, discussing current topics and meeting nice people from all around the world, don't wait and join this course!

2023 UGOE BIP Fostering International Online Interaction to Enhance Critical Thinking Skills

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