Cultural Background

My name is Olesya Lutsenko. I was born in the Russian Far East, grew up and studied in Ukraine and since 2002 I have been living in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. I always found “Where do you come from?” to be rather a challenging question. I had an opportunity to become an integrated part of different cultures, that is why it is quite difficult to identify myself with one of them.
Dear reader, am I Dutch, Ukrainian or Russian? Dutch people tend to identify me with the Ukrainian culture, while Ukrainian citizens, with Russian culture and Russians see me as being Dutch. “Where do you come from?” is not an easy question as I cannot give an expected answer. I do not feel belonging to one nationality or one culture, rather I am a mix of several cultures what shaped my mind set and ideology. An ideology of an open-minded world citizen with great empathy and curiosity to all cultures.

Work experience

In 2000 I was involved in developing of the maritime sailing dictionary for the students of the technical shipbuilding university in Nikolaev, Ukraine. This became a turning point in my life which connected me with the maritime world and the life of a seafarer.
Currently I am working full time as a maritime English teacher, coach of the maritime officers and give trainings in Cultural Awareness On Board at the Maritime College De Ruyter. Moving from one country to another was a less cultural shock than moving from a Ukrainian classroom to a Dutch classroom. I will never forget the first lesson I gave to MBO students as a substitute teacher. Valuable lessons were learnt.
Step 1. Set clear rules and use assertive communication.
Set clear “Dutch” rules and use Dutch perspective of being assertive. What was clear and assertive for Russians was totally unclear and passive for Dutch. It was like regulating and maintaining the cultural thermostat on a correct temperature in the class. Sometimes it was too “cold” or too “warm” till I adjusted the correct set point to create a positive atmosphere in the class.
Step 2. Collaborate and make a personal contact with students.
In order to get in touch with the mobile youth generation I was looking for traditional and untraditional solutions, like using Facebook network, Facebook groups and Maritime English Facebook page as an additional informal way of teaching, coaching and collaborating with my students. At the same time I learnt from them about their interests, their perception, their values and norms.
Step 3. Give a good lesson. Without the first two steps, step 3 is a failure.
To give lessons to mobile youth generation, to keep up with the modern technology, to upgrade the traditional education, teachers have to be open to new ideas, experiences and innovations.
International and national 21st century teaching skills ask for thinking and teaching beyond existing traditional practices at school. As the world gets smaller, the need for a new way of teaching gets bigger.

Since 02-09-2013 I am studying for a Master degree in Learning and Innovation (MLI) at the Hogeschool Rotterdam, the Netherlands. To describe my motivation to do MLI I would use two image metaphors: a mirror and a tool. A mirror to see and improve myself as an educator in a 21 century environment. A tool to gain more theoretical and practical knowledge and skills to assist my colleagues in dealing with constant renewing educational processes and new critical professional situations occurring due to cut downs. From one side, rising international and national standards on education of seafarers, from another side, classes became bigger (already a challenge for new teachers) and also combined from different levels and professions.
Starting my own Blog is a new challenge to give feedback on my own learning process as a global village teacher, and to reflect on the development process of education in 21 century .

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