Institute for Developing Across Differences

Meet the Global Peer: Elif Durgel

Meet the IDD Global Peer

Elif Durgel, PhD

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

Following are reflections from Elif Durgel, an experienced intercultural trainer at the Teacher Development Center of Tilburg University in The Netherlands, and independent coach who works with (expat) parents and school management and teachers to support children’s cultural adjustment and psychological health, as well as internationalization, and inclusiveness in schools. [Interview edited for clarity.]

Global Peer Elif Durgel lecturing in front of an electronic blackboard

Who is one person in our professional field today who you have been most inspired by? How specifically have they inspired you?

Although they are both no longer with us, my former professors Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı and Fons van de Vijver have had a profound impact on me and continue to inspire me. 

Their academic contributions to the field are immeasurable, and I was fortunate enough to work under their supervision. 

What stood out to me most was their non-academic qualities: their genuine concern for their students’ learning and well-being as evident in how they went above and beyond as mentors. 

Despite working harder than anyone else around them, they remained approachable and always available when needed. And they were often among the first to pilot new technologies on campus.

I strive to embody these qualities in my own work and personal life, thanks to their inspiring example.

On a rough day, what inspires you to keep doing the work you’re doing? 

I draw inspiration from the positive impact I have on my clients’ lives. The satisfaction of knowing that I have helped someone grow, overcome a challenge, or improve their well-being drives me to continue doing the work I do.

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

Let me quote educator and philosopher Paulo Freire: Education is political and teaching is never a neutral act.


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

Currently, most of my time is divided between building an online cultural awareness training for exam proctors at the university, starting a support group for expat mothers, and designing intercultural skills training for daycare organizations in Eindhoven (Netherlands) to help them connect better with the immigrant children and their parents.

In all of them, my main goal is creating safe and healthy spaces for children and students, from as early as daycare years. These projects are building blocks towards my ultimate vision of creating a center for families to support their parenting, cultural adjustment, and psychological health as well as for schools/universities to help with their internationalization and inclusiveness. One of the many reasons I am looking forward to meeting IDD global peers at the DAD in Groningen and in the Global Community of Practice is to explore opportunities for collaborations towards this goal.  

What excites you most about the upcoming Developing Across Differences Learning Lab & Community Week in Groningen?

After being in isolation for a long period due to Covid-19, I am most excited about attending in-person workshops and engaging in inspiring discussions with colleagues.

Seeing the diverse range of topics and distinguished names in the field conducting the courses, I find it challenging to select which ones to sign up for.

As a lifelong learner, I look forward to utilizing this week to enhance my professional skills and broaden my network.

Meet Elif and other peers at our next IDD Global Community of Practice calls on Mai 25, 2023, and during our Developing Across Differences (DAD) Learning Lab & Community Week in Groningen from July 10-15, 2023.

Our topic for reflection and discussion in the Global Community of Practice on May 25 will be “Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Our Work”.

*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.