The Cross-Border Challenge was organized in 2019 for the first time by SIETAR Austria members Eithne Knappitsch, Sveta Buko and Karin Martin together with a group of Intercultural Management students.
The key goal of the project was to showcase how to develop and strengthen the intercultural competencies of a group of young interculturalists within the context of the cross-border territory of the tri-border region: Southern Austria, Northern Italy, Southern Slovenia.
In 2019 the project took place on May 9, 2019 (“Europe Day” in the EU and “Victory Day”). It was designed with the format of a one-day (24-hr) field trip involving a full immersion experience in the selected region: Starting early morning start in Villach (Austria), taking a 1.5-hour bus trip to Udine (Italy) and a 45-minute train ride to Gorizia (Italy) and finishing in the Slovenian border city Nova Gorica. In total the team spent 20 hours on the road, crossing three borders, speaking four languages while also connecting with locals.
In addition to travelling, the team used a combination of methods to document their research process and findings, including field interviews with locals, short audio quotes, video blogs and social media posts.
In every city they had a meeting with one or multiple experts from four different sectors: 1) academia 2) business 3) governments and political leadership 4) NGOs and the Arts.
Each participating expert was invited to share their life stories with the students, including reflections on their personal experience of work/studies/research/leadership in the border regions. The stories demonstrated the challenges of developing specific skill-sets in order to build successful careers in the tri-border region and included useful tips for the students regarding human capital.
The Experts that cooperated with SIETAR are Alessandro Miani, Anja Medved, Luka Manojlovic, Andrea Picco, Dr. Jens Kolata and Dr. Mattia Baiutti.
At the end of the evening, the final component of the field trip was cross-border student connection – An intercultural collaboration session of BA students from CUAS, Villach (Austria) and MA students of the Intercultural Management Program from Nova Gorica School of Advanced Social Studies SASS (Slovenia) with the support of the researcher Dadiana Chiran.
The macro competencies we aimed to develop/enhance within the project included:
1) Lifelong learning (curiosity, creativity, critical thinking during the trip)
2) Self-agency (resiliency during the 24-hour challenge, grit, drive, initiative)
3) Interacting with others (teamwork collaboration before/during/after the trip, interaction with local experts).
4) Interacting in and with the world (being local and global, balancing rights and privileges, considering local histories with respect)
5) Thriving on interdisciplinarity (cross-sector, interdisciplinary approach)
6) Multiliteracy (technical literacy – the ability to blog and produce digital storytelling products, human literacy- ability to connect/interview local leaders for unique content)
(Competency list from IBE-UNESCO 2017, Future competencies and Future curriculum).