BODY – European in-service training for professionals

body1Thanks for all the participants and trainers for the successful training we made in Palermo (Sicily) in September 2014. We had participants from all over France, The Netherlands, Italy, Luxemburg, Denmark and Hungary. Few feedbacks from participants:

BODY training was more than a training to me : not only useful but inspiring and empowering. I particularly appreciated the coherence between form and contents, and the roundtrips between experience, introspection and group reflection on possible practical applications, who can help as well as for individual support as for organization of group actions.
Lucile Vagner, Psychologist, Prevention Educator on a large campus in Paris

The body training in Palazzo Adriano was an amazing experience.
To see how I could use it in classes i would have to differ in primary schools, secondary schools and teacher training schools.
for me:
1: the pictures. in all kind of groups you can do this. let persons look at all the pics and choose the one that impresses you most. Than ask who wants to explain why. Without pressing one to say something. The pictures can be chosen for any theme. But also defer in extremes.
2: the agree, disagree and anything in between. After every proposition an explanation by someone. again without pressure.
3: coming out game. a good moment for an introduction in any group. you can choose any proposition. the one to make the person feel enough comfortable and some to bring them out of their comport zone. In all groups it was done with pleasure and as open as possible. Some, like students from teacher training schools, wanted more confrontation. Sometimes I say. when I see the group the first time I decide to take some propositions out. Just to discuss how teachers sometimes make a decision what kind of proposition is acceptable for a group or not. You can discuss afterwards if that is a good thing or not.
4: the gender, cultural and religious Identity. On paper you get an Identity and you have to identify yourself with that person. You do a step forward or backward if some proposition relates to you or not. Great to see how we almost agree to the positive position of women,men, white, black, third world person, religious person and more if you stand in front or at the back. At the back is the worst position. You can do this with kids and adults.
5: walking around, stop, make contact with the person next to you and decide if you want to do what the teacher/ workshop holder is asking of you. not touching but moving your hands around a person, sniffing and more. you decide if you agree. Learn to show or tell your boundaries. This game I liked a lot because I could almost feel or see the boundaries without speak

This week told me that the way the workshops were given made a safe environment. Made the persons more open. and because of that difficult to say goodbye. All of them will stay in my heart. Next time I would like to do the narrative training.

Peter van Maaren, COC, The Netherlands

body2The training was based on a two-year Grundtvig project ( funded by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Programme. The BODY project had the overall aim to explore how our perception of the body and body-related themes such as health, disease, gender, age, sexuality and disability is influenced by cultural differences and on the same affects our intercultural communication.

Partner organizations in this project have been involved in research and training activities in the intersection of cultural diversity and body (Elan Interculturel) gender (MHTConsult, CESIE, Elan Interculturel, Ars Erotica Foundation), disability (KVG), and sexuality (Ars Erotica Foundation, CESIE, KVG.). It is our common observation both in research and training that factors related to the body and gender become ‘sensitive zones’ in cultural contact zones. Yet the resources available – both theoretical and practical – are rather scarce. Engagement in an applied research on cultural differences in gender, body and sexuality and the translation of the results into applicable training materials and trainings is in line with our strategic objectives.


Our goal is to provide exemplary knowledge and experience on how professionals can handle cultural differences linked to the body in an appreciative and respectful way. It may apply to adult teachers and trainers as well as counselors, integration workers, health workers, social workers, job consultants, sexual supervisors, disability consultants and other frontline staff all over Europe. Based on the specific method of Critical Incidents proposed by Margalit Cohen-Emerique, the partners in the BODY project have collected and analysed a large number of concrete examples of how professionals in many different contexts have experienced and handled “culture shock” in reference to cultural perceptions of the body and body-related themes such as disability and sexuality etc. We also identified a wide range of examples that illustrate how people around Europe through professional cultural encounters have developed best practices to accommodate cultural differences in body language and body image. The best practices all operate in the intersection between culture and body where intercultural empathy and respect have overcome the communication challenges and barriers that traditionally are known to be linked to the specific communication of the body.


The manual including training materials, case studies, Critcal Incidents from 5 participant countries and theoretical background articles and the anthology is available at bodyproject in English, Italian, Hungarian, French, Danish and Dutch.

Objectives of the training:

to gain a better cBODY - Bodyonceptual and practical understanding of cultural differences in
gender, body, health, disability and sexuality.
-­‐ to develop skills and concepts to reflect on their students’ and their own non-verbal
-­‐ to be able to design and lead their own trainings taking into account cultural differences
in body issues concerning health, gender, sexuality, disability and body overall – and in
particular to have more facility in handling tensions and incompatibilities.
-­‐ to adopt to own practice more embodied training approaches, methods and exercises.

– development of intercultural competence and appreciative communication in training
– acquisition of key concepts and vocabulary of gender, sexuality, health and disability.
– acquaintance with a theory and practice of intercultural analysis and conflict negotiation.
– acquisition of concrete methods, exercises to adapt in one’s own practice.




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