To be honest it feels strange to celebrate Christmas in the summer heat here at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Back home normally we have temperatures below zero degrees Celsius and often a bit of snow, but this year I have done my Christmas shopping in shops where air conditioning from morning to evening is absolutely essential even if from the loudspeakers we are all listening to “Winter Wonderland” and “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. And while the students at USC tell us about the typical Australian Christmas with seafood barbecue, salad and drinks by the swimming pool, of course different national groups also keep up their own traditions in Australia and Cassie told us about a Nigerian Christmas party with wonderful African food where Father Christmas is impersonated by a black Nigerian, which seems a wonderful opportunity for children and adults to be reminded of cultural diversity.
In our second category we see what Canadian students can learn from ordinary Africans if they have the right attitude to learning and to their guest country. I asked John Kaethler, a colleague from Brock University in Canada why he takes students out of their regular surroundings and organizes intercultural excursions to Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. It seems to make absolute sense that if students approach a foreign country with humility and the wish to learn they will probably get more learning out of their intercultural experience than if they followed a seminar about that country.
So we understand that intercultural learning could be initiated by lecturers at the home university, it could be triggered by contact with people in the country that is visited but our last guest on the show stresses that the ultimate responsibility is on us, the learners and travelers and that the experience should always be accompanied by thorough reflection. In our last category Ariane Curdy explains that we need to understand our own values and backgrounds in order to be open to learn from the others.
This was the last show for the year 2009, I hope you’ll enjoy the festive season, be it in the cold or in the heat! The team of “absolutely intercultural” wishes you all the best for the year 2010. And don’t miss our next show, believe it or not this will be show No 100, and will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 8th January 2010
The drumming which starts the show was recorded when the Ghanaian drummers of African Footprint visited Grenaa earlier this year and they are to put you in the mood for learning an African language; the Yoruba language to be precise which is taught by Kole Ade-Odutola in Florida as part of the language fulfilment part of American university courses. We also hear from Minhaaj Ur Rehman who, if you remember from Show 96 has just arrived in Sweden from Pakistan to do an MBA. He talks about how environmentally aware the Swedes seem to be; this is good when talking about wise use of resources but maybe less so when talking about avoidance of conflict.
Kole who comes from Nigeria and is a true polymath with many different interests in media, poetry, literature, environmental activism and development which we will explore in later shows. First I was keen to explore more about his teaching of Yoruba in Florida. So be prepared to learn a little Yoruba in this first extract of our conversation. When I was editing the audio file for this piece it occurred to me to look at the pattern of the sound file as Kole was demonstrating the three different ways of saying ogun and the three sound waves do indeed look very different so I chose this as the graphic for this show’s blog entry.We start by finding out what brought him to the US in the first place.
absolutely environmental At the moment it is almost impossible to find a hotel room in Copenhagen because of the Climate Summit. Scandinavia does have a reputation for being environmentally aware and it was interesting that Minhaaj Ur Rehmen, who has just started a course in Sweden and comes from Pakistan, noticed this specifically. So what was it that caught his attention?
absolutely authentic Meanwhile back on Florida I wondered how Kole’s students could get opportunities to practice the language. How can you get absolutely authentic in Yoruba? So to find out more about what Yoruba sounds like you could go to www.abeokuta.org where you will find music, drama videos and some basic lessons in the language.
absolutely passionate If you heard two people talking to each other in loud voices you could assume that they were arguing and not getting on at all but depending on where you are you could be completely wrong! Our final segment is absolutely passionate and features Minhaaj in Sweden again and this time he talks about passion in conversations and where the Swedes score on that level!