The Sunshine Coast is calling, and yes, I am leaving the German autumn behind to go right into the Australian summer. Today we start a new mini-series called “absolutely down-under”, the reason is that I am going to the University of the Sunshine Coast, where I will teach and do research at our partner university. This means that the next couple of shows will be coming to you directly from Southern Queensland. So our editor Dino Nogarole asked me for an interview, a new situation for me, because normally it is my role to interview the people on the show.
Lets now go on to our category “absolutely abroad” one of the stimulators for my stay abroad, who is working for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He was at RheinAhrCampus in order to present the Go Out! campaign, in which he motivated students to do an internship abroad or to study in a foreign country …
Some months ago, at the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Bloggers’ Meeting in Luxemburg I met Jessica Dheere, an American citizen who lives in Lebanon. In 2008 she started a project which is called social media exchange. You will hear that social media isn’t only Flickr, Twitter or Facebook, but also the ability to produce your own media, like mapping, blogging or podcasting. Her organisation offers training sessions which are specialised in social media exchange. The idea of it is to reach as many people as possible by using online tools or programms. Jessica trains young people how to use the social media. She explains why these net based tools are so important in Lebanon and why it is so difficult to spread your news through the national radio or through television. Her courses also help to bring different communities from different parts of the Lebanon together, for example the Christians and the Muslims. Jessica tells us that her advantage is that she is an outsider with inside views and that she uses the social media for social change as a kind of common ground for the peer-learning between the different intercultural groups.
The next show will be hosted by Anne Fox in Denmark on 11 December
The two people we will be hearing from in this show have both come half way round the world to visit Europe and such a long distance seems to lead to very strong contrasts – not always in those aspects which you would expect. We’ll be hearing from Cao Lei, a biology lecturer from Heifi in China, here on her first visit to Europe.
We’ll also be hearing from Minhaaj Ur Rehman, from Pakistan, who recently arrived in Sweden to do an MBA even though he already has an MBA from Pakistan but apparently a foreign MBA will be much more impressive to any future employers back home. One of the major differences which was immediately apparent is the relationship between the students and their teachers. It’s often surprising to us who live here what people from outside the area notice so I had to smile when Minhaaj mentioned how considerate he found drivers in Sweden to be.
When Cao Lei from China visited Europe recently she found that the Netherlands was very relaxing and peaceful in spite of it being one of the most densely populated countries in the world. But once she started to talk about the normal 18-hour school day in China for her 13 year old daughter I began to understand how much the visit to Europe must have represented a change of gear for her.
It is a cliché for a Brit like me to talk about the weather but the weather has certainly made a deep impression on Minhaaj Ur Rehman who came from Pakistan to do an MBA in Sweden and not in southern Sweden but in northern Sweden, Umeä where already in October the temperature was close to zero (centigrade that is). And it’s interesting that Minhaaj points out the lack of congestion and people as a plus, just as Cao Lei did.
absolutely spoiled for choice
If you don’t speak a language which uses script then you have probably never given a thought to the way in which a computer produces ideograms such as those used in Chinese and Japanese. So when Cao Lei from China visited us recently it was fascinating to watch how she could turn Chinese written with western letters into Chinese script using good old Word.
absolute double? Minhaaj Ur Rehman is from Pakistan and already has an MBA so why is he in Sweden doing another MBA? Is this an absolute double? It turns out that even if you are reading the same books there are some very good reasons for re-doing the course and he gets to experience some very different approaches to education along the way.
By the way if you have any comments or suggestions you’re always welcome to contact us through our blog at www.absolutely-intercultural.com and leave a comment. We love following up on contacts or just reading about your reactions and experiences.
The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on November 27. So until then, stay tuned won’t you?