Insights into Bridging Cultures Through Travel

Text by Mariana Oliveira and Siri Driessen

Photos by Fernanda Rodríguez

CultSense, in collaboration with ATLAS, had the pleasure of hosting an event putting together many of the stakeholders of the project. The event took place 14-15 June, in the vibrant city of Rotterdam, gathering over 90 participants from all over the world, from Brazil to New Zealand.

Throughout the event, we witnessed captivating talks, engaging discussions, an inspiring student-led workshop, a musical moment, and the announcement of the winner of the video competition. Students organised a session integrating games that stimulated self-reflection among the audience. We also applaud the creativity and effort put forth by all the participants in the video competition. The UNESCO chair of Cultural Policies & Creative Economy was also launched in Europe. There were many discussions around the topic of cultural sensitivity in its different perspectives and this conference came to show the diversity of angles in such a complex topic.

Reflections and Insights

This event prompted self-reflection, reminding us that tourism is not only about (educating) the Other but also about educating ourselves and reflecting on our role and the effect of our presence on local communities (and tourists).

Tourism is about encounters, which hold greater value when tourists and hosts can reflect on themselves and others, in particular when there are major cultural differences. We have seen a wide range of educational tools showcased to enhance this thinking – from placemaking to online interactions through COIL, as well as videos and games created by students.

We’ve seen inspiring examples of strategies to enhance students’ engagement and develop their cultural sensitivity. Co-creation with students and local communities was strongly emphasised, both online and offline, in collaborations with companies and residents. Ethical questions regarding tourism-host relationships were also raised.

We’ve seen different ways of developing student’s intercultural competencies, including challenge-based learning, tailored strategies for students with diverse backgrounds, and collaborations across universities.

Moving forward

Work on cultural sensitivity is only at the beginning. In education, research and industry the field is vast and open to further exploration.

Once again, we express our deepest gratitude to everyone involved in making this conference a remarkable success. May the knowledge and connections gained during this event continue to inspire positive transformations!