Monthly Archive for March, 2009

absolutely intercultural 79 +++ Borrowed Identities Part II +++ revisiting Achill Island +++ workshop insights +++

 

participants of the Borrowed Identities workshop from Germany/Angola, Spain, Lithuania, Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, and Germany I would like to take you back to the island where I took you a month ago. Previously, I shared my experiences of an Erasmus Intensive Programme with you and we listened to students and organisers who had taken part in it. We have more material about the project “Borrowed Identities” on Achill Island for you today.

absolutely developed:
In our first category Egle, Dainora and Marijus from Lithuania tell us how important this experience was for their own self-development and that the fact that so many students from so many different countries worked and lived together for two weeks was a challenge in itself.
We hear that the international workshops organized themselves democratically and some students were tempted to try out new leadership roles. It seems that the beautiful landscape on Achill Island inspired students in different ways – many of them found out more about themselves and their strengths and weaknesses. With the help of the “ship-metaphor” the students analyzed how they actually worked together as a team and how they could change roles. Some students tried to be captains, others were up in the look-out making sure that the ship does not hit an iceberg and some others were reading the maps and pointing out to the captain which direction to take.
Many students reported that the experience had helped them develop the confidence that they needed to be successful and at the same time enjoy the international teamwork.

absolutely focused:
Maria Koenen tells us how she was encouraged to have experiences on two very different levels: to do the work in the workshop but at the same time look at her own behaviour and the group dynamics within that workshop.
The Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) says that when you look out of the window you have to decide whether you focus on the tree outside or on a little spot of dirt on the window pane. He says it is impossible to focus on both at the same time. However, this is exactly what we encouraged our students to do. On the one hand the students had to concentrate on the contents of their international teamwork and on the other they were encouraged to talk about their behaviours and their positions within the workgroup and even to play with different roles within the team. This change of focus and perspectives was perceived as stimulating but rather unusual. Reports from the students were that during the two weeks they were forced to work within constraints which come very close to those in international work places where the job may be defined by somebody else and the colleagues were already there when you started.

absolutely real:
We listen to Sabine Rauh, who tells us that the other participants – like characters in a film – grew because of their self-development and the intercultural challenges they mastered during the seminar. She describes what it felt like at the beginning to find one’s place within this international team. Her job as student manager had put her in email contact with the other participants from Lithuania, England, Hungary and Germany but she admits that all this contact only felt real when she finally met the real students from the partner universities in the real train station in Dublin, Ireland.

absolutely helpful:
One of the factors that allowed participants to develop and grow was the students’ close contact with the local population on Achill. During the initial welcome reception the students had invited local people into their workshops. Among them was Anton, a local reporter from the Mayo News, who tells us how he joined the group only to write an article about the project but then was integrated in the workshops as the students appreciated his advice for the media workshop. In fact you can find out how useful Anton’s tips were. The students learned from him how to make the headlines of their travelogue “snappy” and how to vary the formats of the reporting by introducing little poems or even personal email messages in their travelogue.

absolutely European:
At the beginning of their international teamwork stereotypes about the Lithuanians, Germans, Hungarians and English really seemed to help because they seemed to make predictions about individuals’ behaviours possible. However, even during the first week these borders seemed to disappear and the way was free to look at personalities instead of nationalities.
In this show’s final category we hear how the group developed its own intercultural identity and turned into a kind of European family. Our 40 learners from 10 different nationalities on the Borrowed Identities Intensive Programme were able to get a much closer insight into what it means to work in European teams. They discovered that the diversity of cultural backgrounds produced a much richer team product than if the work had been done by learners from just one country.

The next show will be coming to you on 3 April from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 78 +++ Borrowed identities +++ Gaelic language +++

Souvenir from AchillJust as much as Achill seems to have become part of the annual calendar so does the Intercultural Management Institute conference each March. 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the Washington conference and promises to be the best yet so if you haven’t already booked your place then I suggest you hurry. We’re hoping to be able to bring you some highlights from the conference in a few weeks but to get the full flavour you really ought to attend in person.

absolutely Irish:
We’re not talking about green souvenirs or drinking a pint of Guiness. Instead this is about about the Irish language, Gaelic, whose future is hanging in the balance. All over the world people are learning English mainly for practical economic reasons. But could something be lost if English is at the expense of the local language? Tom Johnston is a former teacher in Achill on the west coast of Ireland where Gaelic has been the native language. What is the situation now? Réka and Kerstin, two of the Borrowed Identity students went to find out.

absolutely musical:
Pride is an important element in keeping a language alive, and so, it turns out, is music. You may recall hearing the haunting song, The Island, on this podcast last year. It is not traditional but it was written by an Irishman and one of the activities for our visiting students this year was to learn this song from Kate so that they could perform it at our final evening event. As we’ll hear later, music is a way of maintaining and passing on traditions…so let’s go absolutely musical and hear how they’re doing.

absolutely Irish 2:
So what can be done to preserve a language? Let’s find out more from Tom Johnston who tells us about the Conradh na Gaeilge, the organisation promoting the use of Gaelic. Do you live in an area where the native language is threatened? Is anything being done to save your language? Should we be saving languages in the same way that we try to preserve animal and plant species? If you have any comments about this or any of our other content then do let us know.

The next show will be coming to you on 20 March from Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Jan Warnecke











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