Welcome to the 60th show of Absolutely Intercultural, the podcast about all things inter-cultural. In many cultures, 60 of anything marks a celebration. For example if you have been married for 60 years then that is your diamond jubilee and everybody has to give you diamonds!
absolutely vocational: Firstly we go to the closing event of a European project, Brydlydmuren, (break the sound barrier) all about using sound in vocational education. Students had done all sorts of sound-related work including a collaborative project with a university in Turkey. This final event took place in a large hall in the city of Aarhus and included displays and experiences such as a blind restaurant, which is where you eat in complete darkness so that your other senses come to the fore. One of the events was a Skype video conference with the Turkish university.
absolutely culinary: I attended a chat show featuring one of Britain’s celebrity chefs, Jessie Dunford Wood. This was another of the events offered by Language Lab, the online language school based in Second Life. One of the attractions of going to these events is that you can participate by asking questions yourself. So what comes to mind when you hear the phrase British food? Would you go to a British restaurant for a special treat?
In the second extract from the Jessie Dunford Wood session we hear about the difference between a chef and a cook and why the athletes had to bring their own food to the London Olympics in 1948. In the podcast I promised you could see a memo written at the time by British civil servants who were checking on how the different national teams were coping with their British food rations. One I particularly liked was about the Mexican team. The civil servants noted that ‘the habit of regarding food as a precious commodity was foreign’ to the Mexican. See the memo here.
Politically the different member states of the European Union have already achieved surprising synchronisations which would have seemed unthinkable 20 years ago. Culturally, however, most countries try to keep their own identity within the Union. Imagine you leave Germany and go South to Slovenia, Portugal, or Greece. In every single nation you can experience different cultural habits and, as a consequence, different working and life styles. Apart from reporting about how we had a Royal Visitor from Ghana (see on the left) in our classroom , in this show we mainly hear about some differences between the South of Europe and the North. How do the various cultural differences influence our working styles in joint projects or when students are studying in another one of these European countries?
absolutely philosophical? In show 57 we talked about how teamwork in internationally mixed groups is influenced by different cultural habits. In this show, we put the emphasis on how the work itself can be different and we hear, that often for people from Southern Europe the result is not the most important concern, but that the way how the result should be achieved needs more attention and discussion. Sometimes, in the eyes of the Northerners this can lead to seemingly endless “philosophical” discussions with uncertain outcome. For Germans, this often seems as if “they just like to talk and talk a lot”, because the function (e.g. trust-building) of this kind of communication is not so obvious. However, our interviewees also recognize, that all different ways are “kind of right” and that you just have to learn how to handle different styles so that in the end you can work successfully in all international environments.
absolutely quiet: Petros is an exchange student from Greece, the country of the ancient philosophers. He is now in Germany for his semester abroad and you could get the impression that he somehow enjoyed that there was not so much talking in public places and generally more discipline. Leaving the strike-ridden university system in Greece he stresses that he likes that German students are very quiet in the library and also very reliable when it comes to group work or presentations. It seems that Petros can confirm most of the stereotypes people around the world have about the Germans, that most of them are disciplined, reliable and punctual. He also tells us that he first had problems with “proxemics”, the attitude to personal space, distance and touching each other during a conversation, but that he learned a lot for his future in international work places.
absolutely royal: We speak to Georg Reifferscheid, a student at RheinAhrCampus, who recently made a real king from Africa visit our campus and hold a panel discussion with students about development aid. Herr Meickl is an architect from Germany, who was made king by a Ghanaian village, because he had invested so much of his time and energy in his development projects there. Mr. Meickl showed the students the difference between development and financial aid and also presented a video of his “crowning ceremony” in Ghana. Georg shares his initial worries and experiences with us telling us how this unique opportunity came up and what he learned on the event management side.
absolutely improved: In our last category we talk to Maria Koenen, teaching assistant on a Business English course, about various opportunities to improve your language skills. She tries to motivate her students not only to learn during the course, but to combine your hobbies with learning English at home or even on your way to work or to university. The result is, that all students now try out different things to improve their English outside the classroom