A Competence Kaleidoscope course is just being held in the premises of the Public Defender of Rights. The course aims to help disadvantaged people to find their way back to the labour market. When looking around, I have the impression that lecturers in contrast to participants abound in calmness and confidence. The lecturers had recently tested the method with a group of secondary school students and so they will be able to use the gained experience with a new group of participants.
The course participants involve women and men of different nationalities. Some ran away from the war and others wanted to start a new life. Each of them carries his or her own story. Some stories are sad and others are full of hope. However all the participants share one thing, they wish to find work in the Czech Republic. To reach this aim, they are supported by lecturers Kateřina Hodická, Kateřina Kelarová and Barbara Dobešová.
As there are people from different countries, cultures and with various customs, I really wonder what the course will look like. There is, for example, a woman from Mexico. She would like to open her own café. Thanks to the course she should realize whether she has the right abilities and skills to reach the predetermined goal. Other course participants are e.g. a woman from India, Syrian family, Nigerian man who with his robust figure calls for an appropriate respect. I would like to know what his story is about.
An introduction is going on. A man from Nigeria introduces himself first. His name is Akintola. He has a big smile on his lips. I find out that he is a very friendly and sociable person who, like me, loves cats. He was forced to leave his home country and his family due to his dangerous work and applied for asylum in the Czech Republic.
Gradually other participants are introducing themselves. Their initial nervousness is slowly fading away as the entire course is run in a friendly and informal atmosphere. My early worries and concerns regarding a cultural heterogeneity of the group appear to be useless.
It is not surprising for me that in one of the following activities Akintola chooses a kangaroo as an animal he would like to be. Similarly to kangaroos he feels the need to protect his children. As most course participants are parents, sometimes their playful offspring run around me. Just now they are sitting in front of me on the carpet and drawing. Though each child speaks a different language, painting unites them. When this activity stops to entertain them, they use crayons as building blocks for the construction of houses. Who knows, perhaps children will discover hidden talents for architecture or painting during the course.
Meanwhile one of the lecturers is telling a story about a bowman and his arrow written by Jorge Bucay. The story´s purpose is to explain to participants that it is always important to set first a goal one wants to achieve. Having the goal in mind one will be able to find a job that fulfils him or her.
During the course participants also try practical things. Course participants are also instructed on how to behave at a job interview. Then they are divided into groups and play the role model of an employer looking for ideal employees. In this context they should think of key characteristics that will be required for a particular job. Later on they all try the role of an interviewee.
And how do participants themselves assess the whole programme? At the end of the course they all look happy and are smiling in front of a camera. They also receive an evaluation form from lecturers. The feedback given by the participants is largely positive and comments that the participants make can help lecturers to improve the course further. Some participants mention in the questionnaire that the course was truly beneficial and express that similar courses should run in the future. Nothing can please lecturers more than praise for a well performed and sensible work.
Author: Robin Stejskal