Monday, 23 September 2013

Omani students learnt entrepreneurship skills at TAMK

Joy, inspiration and friendly words!

A summer course offer TAMK made for Oman brought 36 young Omani higher education students to study entrepreneurship skills at TAMK. We had the chance to work with glad and friendly Omani students during the summer.

The group of the best Omani higher education students arrived in Finland after Midsummer for a one-month study trip. The education included idea generation methods, project management, development of self-marketing, development of personal business ideas, and above all, experiences on Finland. We at TAMK received a lot of information and understanding of the life and education system of a country so far away but yet so close.

Differences in learning cultures

Our learning culture differs considerably from the Omani one. A student described the Omani way of lecturing like this: ”First the teacher opens a book, lectures about it, and closes the book. After this we believe that it is so. In Finland we have been able to ask, wonder, and participate in teaching. The idea generation methods were challenging but extremely interesting ways to develop new business ideas.”

This was not our first experience on Omanis but whether the course succeeded and the Omanis felt comfortable kept us in suspense for the whole July. We wanted our guests to enjoy and return to their home country with positive experiences and inspiring ideas. Luckily the students were flexible and self-directed. We soon learnt the culture differences and got used to the men doing everything before the women. The women were used to waiting and it was natural for them to remain in the background. On the other hand, the men were very polite and considerate towards the women. Discussions with the women revealed their wide education and willingness to develop themselves and find meaningful employment. On the basis of what we heard, Oman has same problems as Finland – there are unemployed young people and it is difficult for them to find work. Entrepreneurship is often the only option.

The summer with the students went fast. Our biggest worry was the food. Finding the right ingredients and cooking the food options were challenges for our cooperation partners in food services. The students bravely fasted almost their whole time in Finland. Could you do this – in a foreign country, in the middle of strange habits without food and drink during daylight?

The group achieved a lot

The visit took place during the Finnish holiday season and TAMK facilities were quite freely available for us. Y-Campus offered a great setting for teaching new learning methods. Due to the holidays, there were not many company visits; we offered business life examples by inviting company representatives to TAMK. Despite the holiday season, TAMK Extension Studies staff and numerous teachers participated in the summer project. Tabula was used diligently and emails and text messages flew in order to make everything succeed as desired.

The students also readily shared information with each other. An Arabic lecture on blogging was interesting. Ideas were exchanged and hands swung eloquently. The group spirit was literally tangible.

And what was achieved concretely? The male group practised for example video editing. They probably had a twinkle in their eye when uploading this video to YouTube after the study day.

Our guests started their return journey feeling wistful. They packed memories and a piece of Finland in their suitcases. We at TAMK had a feeling of success with experiences of a new but already familiar culture.

Text: Kerstin Jääskeläinen and Taru Orell
Photo: Badr AlKhatri 

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