New insights gained on the variety of roles of adult educators:

These two articles have definitely shed light into my new life as an instructor. First of all, I am learning how to deal with a diverse and multicultural group of pastry students coming from different age groups, educational, cultural and social backgrounds. I am learning to be a mediator and translator of cultures. Therefore, it is vital to set aside my own stereotypes about different cultures and perceive everybody equally. However, it is important for me to learn about my students’ cultural and social backgrounds to be able to be a more effective instructor. This would enable me to create a better learning experience for each of my students because they all have different learning styles and curves. They are not the only ones learning. I am also learning from them. According to the article by Schwieger, Gros and Barberan, “if we are trying to become transnational educators in a transnational arena, we have to understand ourselves as translators between different and even competing cultures.” We have to accept the responsibility of acting as the “ambassadors of a culturally responsive pedagogy that promotes border crossings between the various groups within the classroom” (as cited in, Schwieger, Gros and Barberan, 2010, p.152). As their instructor, I have the responsibility to make things work, inspite of their different opinions and ideas. There is a need to orchestrate and blend these different voices and come-up with creative solutions (Baumgartner & Johnson-Bailey, 2008). Most often than not, it is amazing to see the result of these different opinions trying to coexist together and accommodating each other’s differences while creating products that are not only acceptable and palatable but also tasting and looking remarkably good. The results are sometimes incredibly great! In fact, I am really surprised because flavors that I have not explored myself, my students are willing to go out of the box and have no fear in trying. I would like to share an example, during one of my classes, my student made a croissant with a ham, cheese and bacon frittata inclusion. Usually, we use traditional fillings of plain ham and cheese. Well, this was a stretch from the norm and in fact became a “hit” in the bakeshop and was sold-out! There is no better feedback than when their products become a top seller. The end result was amazingly good! As their instructor, I did not dare stop them from trying something different. It is my role to help them push the boundaries and have an open-mind to be able to discover new and different flavors. This is how I encourage them to be creative in their own unique ways.
I firmly believe that as educators of the 21st century, there is a need to understand that diversity and multiculturalism is indeed becoming a norm and a necessity as discussed in the article by Schwieger, Gros and Barberan which we have to support and encourage. There is no denying that the world is getting smaller. Our classroom with students from different cultures is a representation of our society and will continue to grow towards this direction, as the world opens its doors to multiculturalism. In fact, “The Medici Effect (2006), Frans Johansson refers to early Modern Florence as an “intersection“ where “different fields meet” while triggering an “explosion of remarkable innovations” that occur as a consequence” (Schwieger, Gros and Barberan, 2010, p.148). It was during the renaissance period when the sciences, the arts and culture and many other forms of discipline flourished. It was the emergence of so many new ideas, creations, innovations and inventions. It is so much alike to what is happening now in our classrooms. There is a convergence of the different cultures and the emergence of new ideas, in this case, flavors of food which we now see becoming prevalent in the culinary and pastry world in fusion cooking and molecular gastronomy. As an example, my students have this compelling desire to combine flavors and cultures in Matcha crème brulee! Sounds pretty crazy, but actually very tasty and quite exciting in its own unique way. There is the availability of these cultural food ingredients in the market because of globalization in the food industry, as well. This has opened the doors to non-traditional food combinations and marriage of flavors, as well as, the discovery of new and innovative cooking and baking techniques. Now, it is my role as a pastry instructor to promote these growing trends in our industry as a result of diversity and multiculturalism in my own pastry classroom. Other than promoting the importance of the basic skills and knowledge in pastry, I need to instill these new values and trends to my students. It is my responsibility to encourage them to keep an open mind and to continue to strive and think out of the box to be able to help them create new possibilities within the pastry world.

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