Institute for Developing Across Differences

Meet the Global Peer: Grazyna Drzazga

Meet the IDD Global Peer

Grażyna Drzazga, PhD

Each month we ask a colleague who is a member of the IDD’s Global Community of Practice* to share more about their reflections, inspiration and hopes for the field.

Following are reflections from Grażyna Drzazga, PhD, a post-doctorate researcher, trainer and faculty development consultant (among other roles) at the University Medical Center of Groningen, NL. Her work and studies —her most recent publication is Toxic language of contempt: The real purpose of online hate speech have taken her from Poland to Canada, the US, and the Netherlands, across career paths and professional interests. [Interview edited for clarity.]

IDD Global Peer intro - Grażyna Drzazga - with red, purple, yellow background

Who in our professional field inspires you? 

I have been fortunate to take courses given by top experts, including Janet Bennett, Nagesh Rao, John (Jack) Condon, Michaela Carrière, Barry van Driel, and Milton Bennett. 

I was also very lucky to have many inspiring conversations with the participants of the IDD’s recent European Developing Across Differences (DAD) Learning Lab in Groningen, Netherlands. 

All of these people taught me, inspired me, and challenged me, but I cannot pick one person whose name I could give to answer this question. For me, sometimes this one sentence someone utters, often outside of formal learning moments, is the one that inspires me, enlightens me, or helps me to understand a complex phenomenon.

If you were to sum up your professional philosophy in 50 characters or less, what would it be?

Keep on rolling, tumbleweed. 

I feel this sentence is both my professional and personal philosophy. This image seems to resonate with many people in our community.  Let me tell you its origins: 

When I was applying to grad school in Canada, I had to take an English proficiency exam; one of the TOEFL IBT sample exams had a text about tumbleweeds. I had been familiar with the plant having watched many Westerns (and The Big Lebowski ), but finding out some details about this plant was eye-opening.

Nine years later, when we arrived in the Netherlands, I found myself miserable having moved yet again leaving many friends and my professional life behind and needing to redefine who I was. I was finding somewhat sad consolation in the words of a poem by Stanislaw Barańczak, “Jeżeli Porcelana To Wyłącznie Taka” (an amateur translation is here), but I needed a better way to conceptualize my situation. And what better method than a conceptual metaphor? Then the image of a tumbleweed came back to me.

"As a tumbleweed, I can thrive even if the environment is less than welcoming and I don't need roots to accomplish my goals."
Grazyna running outside against green grasses and a blue sky

As a tumbleweed, I move when I am mature enough to start “tumbling” (whether I feel like it or not), I can thrive even if the environment is less than welcoming and I do not need roots to accomplish my goals. And even if there are parts of me which are dried up (or “dead”), the most crucial ones are still operating. The identity of a tumbleweed is not limited to moving to different countries: it also explains why I have no problems changing professional fields. I am still myself only the context and the frames change.

What project are you working on now that has you most engaged and what is the biggest benefit you see it providing to whom?

It is not one project but rather multiple projects. Due to the nature of my job, I wear multiple hats: a(n) (medical) education specialist, language teacher, researcher, didactic skills trainer, intercultural competence trainer – to name the most prominent ones. 

These circumstances make it possible for me to slowly make intercultural competence embedded in educational activities. This means that students or participants of our courses can develop their skills in this field while meeting other learning objectives, for instance, developing their teaching skills. 

The biggest benefit is that those who would be reluctant to take an intercultural competence workshop because, for instance, they do not recognize it as valuable, still get a chance to work on this aspect of their development.

Meet Grażyna and other peers at our next IDD Global Community of Practice calls on September 22, 2022.

Our topic for reflection and discussion will be the future of our work of supporting others developing across differences.

*The IDD’s Global Community of Practice is an informal, non-commercial setting in which we connect, discuss, and share timely and timeless topics with passionate, experienced “Differences” peers from different backgrounds, regions, age groups, and focus areas.

Do you have topic ideas for future IDD Global Community of Practice gatherings? Would you like for us to consider profiling you in a future edition? Get in touch with our Community Lead Nadine Binder.