What we do
Intercultural Contact Point (iPoint) focus its activity on welcoming and integrating international Masters and PhD students, promoting the integration of all students in a diverse and healthy academic environment.
At iPoint we understand that the whole identity, both individual and collective, is multiple, changeable, unfinished … and is constantly evolving.
Therefore, we propose the creation of a space where we are all free, different and equally relevant to our development and the growth of our Faculty.
Who we are
We are the mobilizer for the holistic integration of FEUP students. We encourage the principles of equality, rights, values and skills, actively promoting interaction, collaboration and intercultural exchange.
Because it is difficult to understand others, without first knowing ourselves, being well and feeling good about who we are, we intend to be the promoter of this individual well-being, of this inner encounter for a more peaceful coexistence with the other.
Once you arrive at FEUP, you can count on our support and commitment to accompany you throughout your academic journey.
Diversity – Multiculturalism - Interculturality
Understanding that cultural heterogeneity is not only in ethnic or linguistic indicators, we propose to look at diversity at FEUP through multiplicity in relation to subcultures with ethnic roots, religious roots, in relation to gender, among other identity factors.
Multiculturalism presupposes inclusion, mutual tolerance and cultural interaction. Where heterogeneity and diversity do not overlap. For us, multiculturalism in the university context in which we operate implies understanding a system of beliefs and behaviors, recognizing and respecting the presence of different groups, recognizing and valuing their socio-cultural differences and encouraging their continuous contribution.
In this sense, we promote an inclusive cultural context that empowers all people involved
The prefix inter presupposes a greater interaction of culturality. This means that interculturality may also be born from contacts at a distance and never as today has this distance imposed itself so intensely.
For the valorization of cultural diversity, it is therefore necessary to move from coexistence to coexistence, that is, to move from multiculturalism to interculturality.
The Intercultural Contact Point, therefore, aims to be the point of contact, coexistence and coexistence, ensuring a dynamic vision of cultures, valuing communication in everyday relationships and promoting the construction of a citizenship of equality.
A bit of History
Having a vision of the future is also part of knowing the past.
The term interculturality is, in chronological terms, a relatively recent term. However, although the word is recent, its practice is not.
Through archeology, history and other sciences, we know that contact between people with different cultures dates back many millennia. Perhaps one of the most illustrative examples is the set of routes that became known as the "silk route".
The role that this route played went beyond the commercial scope, through regular trips that included hundreds of merchants of different origins, with different languages and different creeds. These were joined by diplomats, ambassadors and explorers, who sought security and protection in large caravans. Over the centuries, these groups of different people, who came together on a long common journey, transformed the silk route into a true intercultural route.
Even though diversity arose when different social groups came into contact or shared the same space, historical reality shows us that the encounter between different peoples did not always lead to cultural exchanges or peaceful coexistence.
Wars, conquests and invasions, followed by situations of slavery and dominance, are variables that in different times have influenced and defined the social and cultural space that each society occupies among the others. The slave trade carried out via slave ships, which mainly between the 17th and 19th centuries, transported millions of Africans to the sugarcane, tobacco or cocoa plantations of South America and the Antilles is an example.
We then found that, to achieve a situation of interculturality, it is not enough for people with different cultures to establish contact or share the same territory. This cultural exchange depends on multiple historical / cultural factors that influence the way each society interacts with others and defines its place among the others.
On the other hand, intercultural aspects are not static, they are influenced by the context in which they are inserted and by the ideas advocated on the subject at different times.
Take, for example, the Portuguese who settled in the former Portuguese colonies of Africa. They took with them Portuguese habits and customs (many of which they imposed on the locals), influencing African peoples and altering their original way of life. This change meant for the locals an expropriation of some of their customs (polygamy or cannibalism started to be repressed and punished), but at the same time it also represented an overlap in relation to other aspects, which were added to their way of living (among other things included new foods in their diet and had access to school).
On the other hand, the Portuguese were also influenced by the lifestyle of these populations, and when, after decolonization, these Portuguese or their descendants returned to Portugal, the culture they brought was no longer the same as they had brought, but neither was it an African culture. It was a new culture influenced by both.
Thus, we find that interculturality is built and deconstructed in time through its own dynamics, without ever repeating itself, because there are no circumstances or cultures, even when the common aspects bring them together. Contrary to what happened in the past, today laws and concepts defend equality and fraternity among all men.
This aspect, associated with the current ease of travel and communication, has transformed our cities into increasingly multicultural locations. Thus, today we have a mission to see the diversity that exists in the university environment as an opportunity to get to know the other and their culture, and symbolize the opening of a window on the unknown world that it represents. We intend to act in the face of deficient social integration on the part of those who arrive together with the distrust and fear of those who see them arriving, leading to ethnic frictions and social conflicts.
With globalization and the changes resulting from scientific and technological advances, Higher Education institutions were faced with new realities, namely the diversification of their audiences.
The coexistence of people with different cultures in Higher Education, which is a multicultural context, and given the importance of the relationship between peers in the adaptation and involvement of students, implies the need to adopt an intercultural perspective.
Intercultural education is thought of as the transmission of a plural and critical knowledge, resulting from interactions, reciprocities or, more globally, intersubjectivities. It is aimed at all students beyond their differences. Pluralism is promoted as the value and purpose of education, as a cornerstone between the human universal and the singularity expressed by differences.