People who work for the United Nations in Vienna tend to stay within their expat bubble. They go to work, meet other international people, see no need to learn the local language, and have no opportunity to mingle with natives. The Vienna Service Office felt they needed to do something about this and hosted several events, including the Cross-Cultural Lounge.
Challenge, Solution, Benefits
The Service Office of a huge international organization in Vienna wanted to provide employees with the opportunity to leave their international expat bubble and get in touch with local people. They were looking for a way to build a community of international and local people to make employees of this international organization feel more welcome and included.
We launched a series of cross-cultural meet-ups for open-minded and curious members of the international and the local community. These events took place after work and provided a creative space where people of different cultural backgrounds could encounter each other and started building relationships. The community of practice model served as a communicative framework. The goal was to help establish long-term connections among participants.
Benefits for Learners
Event participants enjoyed the relaxed and cheerful atmosphere. They managed to break down cultural and language barriers and engaged in interesting conversations. Participants discovered a lot of things they did not know about the guest culture. Likewise, local people were excited to get in touch with different nationalities and to practice their English. We know that some connections turned into real friendships over the years.