Archive for January, 2010

absolutely intercultural 101 +++ absolutely down-under +++ borrowed identities +++ John Kaethler +++

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Laurent hugging a Koala

absolutely down-under
Like my two previous shows, episode 101 also comes to you from Australia. As I get woken up by exotic birds outside my bedroom window every morning I thought I should record my introduction at this time of the day to share this experience with you because this has become my regular Australian alarm clock.  As I live only a couple of hundred metres from the national park I assumed they must have some kind of noisy monkeys in that park but then I discovered, it was birds, such as cockatoos, kookaburras, and some very colourful small parrots that I cannot identify. After a month in the country I finally manage to sleep through this incredible noise, and if I didn’t, I would have to get up at 4:30 every morning when this dubious concert starts.

I only learned this week that my class and tutorial at the University of the Sunshine Coast next week will not take place because of Australia Day, a national public holiday. So I started asking people what this national day is all about and I received many, but sometimes contradictory answers because while this day is meant to promote and celebrate national unity it seems that every year it is accompanied by the criticism that instead of promoting multiculturalism this day commemorates the 26 January 1788 the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove where English settlers put up their flag. So opponents tend to call it “Invasion Day” and propose to change the national public holiday to another date. Let me share with you what some Australians told me about Australia Day. (If you want to find out more about Australian Identity you may want to revisit Anne’s show 76 on “mateship”)

absolutely borrowed
Have you ever thought about your own identity? Or about borrowing another person’s identity to see what it is like to live the life of somebody else? Have you ever marveled about what your life would have been like if you had grown up in another culture? Well, let us talk about a European project which we finished last year together with students in Sweden, Spain, England, Lithuania and Hungary. Before starting the project I went to Brighton to plan this European project which was called “Borrowed Identities”. I got together with Vy, Lili, Jessica and Ross from the School of languages at the University of Brighton. We discussed whether it is possible to borrow an identity or not? And what identity really is? And how Ben Kingsley and Ghandi fit into this picture.

absolutely diplomatic
Have you ever been to a foreign country and criticized the system or the people of that country? Well, if you have not made the mistake yourself, I am sure you have seen your compatriots fall into this trap? I discussed with John Kaethler how we would react if a guest from a foreign country would criticize our home country and our habits. In our category “absolutely diplomatic” John suggests, that if someone asks you your opinion about politics, sometimes it may be better to keep your mouth shut, instead of sharing negative impressions about the host country.

Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 05.02.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Dino Nogarole


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absolutely intercultural 100 +++ annniversary +++ Wedding Nouveau +++ Fri Bailey +++ European Podcast Award +++

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wn_headerWelcome to show number 100 of Absolutely Intercultural. Yes, it’s true we have reached three figures since March 2006 when we first started.  In most cultures anniversaries are celebrated, birthdays being the most common. But even in that case there are huge differences in emphasis. For most, birthdays are an occasion for gifts and special foods but in some cultures a birthday can only be celebrated as a humble thanksgiving for the blessings you have enjoyed to date. So in that spirit I would like to say thank you to everyone who has taken part in the show so far. We couldn’t have done it without you. Certainly for me it’s been a wonderful excuse to get in touch with people from all over the world and to collate a wonderful collection of ideas, perspectives and experiences along the way. 

 Fri Bailey sent us an email and is the main topic of our anniversary show because she arranges celebrations which give rise to that other important anniversary, the wedding anniversary. Now we’ve covered weddings before in show number 41 when we heard about two intercultural weddings and how they were organised by the bride and groom. But this time we’re going to hear from someone who arranges intercultural weddings for a living. So what’s the answer to the question about whose traditions should be adopted for the wedding?

absolutely inspired
When I started this anniversary show I thought that celebrating anniversaries must be one of those universals of culture on a par with gender roles, kin groups and marriage but a closer look revealed that while anniversaries may be implicit in some of the universals they are by no means common across the world. However in my everyday life I have the feeling that I am overwhelmed by anniversaries but all I could find for 2010 was that it will be the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the 100th anniversary of Scouting in the USA. Where wedding anniversaries are concerned then there has to be a wedding to trigger the anniversary so I asked Fri Bailey, who is originally from Cameroon in Africa, where she got the idea of arranging inter-cultural weddings for a living.

absolutely silver
As regular listeners may know I am a Briton living in Denmark and when you come to live in a different culture there are many new things to learn, new days to celebrate and new ways to celebrate. When we had lived in Denmark about 6 years we received an invitation to a 25th wedding anniversary celebration. I have to say that joy turned to consternation when we realised that this meant arriving at the happy couple’s house at 7.30… in the morning. Guests have to go through the pretence of waking the couple up by singing in the garden under their window. They then wake up and invite you in for an impromptu breakfast. Well I was the only one in our household who was prepared to accept the invitation as everyone else had to go to work or school. And when we woke the happy couple up with our singing, they seemed remarkably awake and miraculously dressed. Thankfully the wedding anniversary was in spring and the rain held off and when we trouped into the house there was rather more than just a quick coffee and lightly toasted slice of bread to eat. I must say that an early morning party left me with many questions such as How long was it polite or expected that I should stay? Perhaps I needed an inter-cultural advisor like Fri Bailey? 

absolutely matrimonial
Having discovered where she got her idea for the Wedding Nouveau service I was then interested to hear about some specific examples of weddings she had been asked to assist with. I would recommend a visit to the Wedding Nouveau website at  where you will see some of the inspired and creative suggestions that Fri has come up with for different couiples, definitely a feast for the eye.

Well I hope that you have liked our 100th show. In fact we are planning to enter the podcast for the European Podcast Award. You will be able to register your support for the Absolutely Intercultural podcast at the award website. 

The next show will be coming to you on 22 Jnuary from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Australia.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Dino Nogarole


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