Activity: Building inclusive communities in culturally diverse societies through intercultural contact
Name of the Organization: Cultural Infusion
Geographical reach: Global (Australia, Cambodia, South Africa, India, Egypt, Brazil, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia)
Number of beneficiaries: Over 300,000 students annually in Australia and 3,000 students abroad
Project Representative: Mr. Peter Mousaferiadis
About the Project
Cultural Infusion delivers education programs that build acceptance and intercultural understanding among children and youth in culturally diverse societies. In a globalizing world, the ability to respect and move between different cultures is a critical condition for community harmony. Cultural Infusion delivers programs in Australia, India, South Africa, Egypt, Cambodia, and Brazil, to over 300,000 students annually in Australia and approximately 3,000 students abroad. The interactive in-school programs named ‘Discovering Diversity’ are school incursions, day programs, digital learning tools such as the award winning Sound Infusion Web 2.0 platform, tours and artist-in residencies where presenters from over 50 different cultures present their culture and convey its importance.
Australia is among the world’s most diverse countries but, as shown by the disadvantages faced by groups such as Indigenous Australians, insensitivity towards cultural issues continues to contribute to discrimination and conflict. As globalization draws communities across national boundaries, interculturalism must also be built as a core value of global citizenship.
Cultural Infusion recognizes that harmony and development in national and global communities depends on youth competences in forging cross-cultural relationships. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority now recognizes ‘Intercultural Understanding’ as a General Capability as important as Numeracy and Literacy for student development. However, there currently does not exist a culturally sensitive national curriculum mandated to see this need met across Australia. Many young Australians still lack awareness of social issues facing their communities, and appreciation for cultural acceptance.
To tackle this issue, Cultural Infusion’s Discovering Diversity utilizes the hands-on interaction of the arts to engage students in important social issues in contrast to teaching methods where students passively listen. The arts promote intercultural understanding and inclusivity in communities by 1) exploring diverse traditions, 2) enhancing empathy by learning through new cultural perspectives, and 3) contributing to other key learning competences such as history, geography and language. The programs draw upon a network of more than 2,500 artists and cultural presenters from over 158 ethnic groups.
Cultural Infusion has complemented in-school programs with the Web 2.0 learning platform Sound Infusion, which was awarded the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Intercultural Innovation Award in 2013. Sound Infusion is a free online application where students create their own music tracks from thousands of cultural music loops, accompanied by an extensive library of information about cultural traditions behind this music. Sound Infusion also access an online forum where students, teachers and cultural artists hold discussions in real time. Cultural Infusion’s use of Web 2.0 allows students to build cultural literacy through processes of artistic creation, embedding appreciations for cultural diversity through inquisitive learning.
With Discovering Diversity annually reaching 1,300 schools in Australia alone, Cultural Infusion ensures a culturally sensitive curriculum in schools where there would not be otherwise. During extensive piloting and program evaluations that include direct feedback from participants, students overwhelmingly agree that the programs empower them to tackle social issues such as racism, and to confidently communicate and collaborate across cultures.
Cultural Infusion consults extensively with peak government and youth bodies to ensure the effectiveness of the programs. In India, South Africa, Egypt, Cambodia and Brazil, the education programs also incorporate ‘life-skills’ workshops framed around contemporary issues like discrimination, mental health and substance abuse.
In 2015, Cultural Infusion plans to establish at least 7 new in-school or community programs in Australia, South Africa, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Sri-Lanka, which combine the performance arts with a culturally sensitive curriculum.