Monthly Archive for April, 2010

absolutely intercultural 108 +++ Us v. Them +++ University of Florida +++ Cornelis Hulsman +++ Egypt +++ Merlijn Twaalfhoven +++ Anna Lindh Forum +++

Which parts of the world get the most attention in the news?Today we’re going to start with a short test. You’re going to need something to write with and a piece of paper. I’m going to say two words and you just need to write down the first two or three words which come into your mind when you hear them. Ready? Right. The first one is Britain. Note down the first two or three words which you think of when I say the word Britain. Done that? The next one is Africa. Note down the first two or three ideas which come into your mind when I say Africa. Finished? Well I’ll tell you how you scored later on in the show. What have we got for you today? Well in the first piece I’ll be talking to Ekene Ajufo and Polly Anna Sanches Martinez about a discussion forum event they organised on behalf of the African Student Union at their university in Florida to discuss the theme of ‘Us v Them’ But surely in this era of the internet we’re all reasonably aware of what it’s like in Africa? We’ll also be hearing more from Cornelis Hulsman in Egypt about why good information literally can save lives. And as well as good information we’ll be hearing about the power of music to bring people together in a very concrete way when we talk to Merlijn Twaalfhoven who specialises in bringing music to conflict ridden areas of the world. And I’ll be reminding you that it is still possible to vote for us in the European Podcast award both under Germany and under Denmark, and that you don’t have to be in Europe to vote for us, and that the voting is open until July! We have prepared some guidance here.

absolutely African
So in our first segment we go absolutely African to hear about a discussion forum entitled ‘Us versus Them’ which was organised by the African Students Union of the University of Florida as its contribution to Black History Month. I watched a video of the highlights of that discussion and then talked to two of the organisers, Pollyanna Sanches Martinez and Ekene Ajufo, to find out more about why they staged the discussion and what came out of it.

So what did you note down during my little test? If your notes include words such as tribal, tyrants, Aids or lions then you will understand that you have failed! If you’d like to tell us how you did on the test or talk to us about anything else to do with the podcast then please add a comment.

absolutely informative
Let’s now join someone who featured in show 106 and who I met at the Anna Lindh Foundation forum in Barcelona in March. Cornelis Hulsman is trying to improve the quality of information coming out of one specific African country, Egypt through his various organisations, the Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Translation as well as well as the Center for Arab-West Understanding and the Electronic Network for Arab-West Understanding. In his conversation with me he explains the secular origins of the Abu Fana incident which later made world headlines as a religious conflict.

absolutely musical
We’ve featured various ways in which music can bridge cultural barriers and in a way this is what Merlijn Twaalfhoven does but perhaps in a much more proactive way.  You can find out more about Merlijn’s amazing musical projects at his website http://www.twaalfhoven.net/ and Merlijn has also given a TED talk.

The next show will be coming to you on 14 May from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

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

 

absolutely intercultural 107 +++ work-life balance +++ absolutely awful +++ Email advice +++ Sebastian Dorok +++

I’m back in good old Germany! I had a great time in Australia and made a number of intercultural experiences, as you were able hear over my last four episodes. However, now my everyday life has got me back, which is a bit of a shame, and as a consequence our category “absolutely down-under” has come to an end. I hope you enjoyed the stories and that I was able to give you a bit of an insight into cultural matters in Australia.

absolutely balanced
In different countries people have different ways of balancing their private lives and their work lives. To give you an example, our friend Mohamed in Aswan in Egypt is a very polychronic person and does not separate his private life from his work life at all. When my wife and I walk past the office of our friend on an ordinary work day he will insist that we come in, even if he is in the middle of a meeting and he will interrupt the meeting for half an hour, send out his business partners in order to have a cup of tea and biscuits with us while the others all happily wait until the meeting resumes after we have left. If, however, during this time Mohamed’s wife happens to stroll by with his delightful three-year old nephew this will easily add another half hour to the interruption of the meeting. Everybody in the office, including the business partners, seems to enjoy these social life interruptions in their work time, only my wife and I, both very monochronic, find it terribly hard to accept that important work is interrupted by private life. We cannot even enjoy the hospitality because according to our values and beliefs work comes first and private life has to wait, so we would prefer to meet Mohamed after his work, perhaps in a cafe. Recently, we had some friends from England over and we talked about how much private life and informality would be acceptable in our Northern European work places. I asked Elaine how she makes sure that her work life does not take over her private time.

absolutely awful
For some odd reason we almost have a bad conscience when we feel too comfortable at work and fear that if we get too relaxed this would seem inappropriate and unprofessional.
Well, personally I must admit, that I have one factor in my work place that really makes sure that I never feel absolutely comfortable – With shame, I am talking about my overflowing inbox – and in particular the sheer abundance of messages that I need to get through every day. However, I am in good company as many professionals nowadays suffer because of email-related stress. Let us hear what people most dislike about this form of communication which is still relatively new but has quickly risen to the top of the list in work communication, even though everybody seems to complain about it.

absolutely correct
The lack of personal touch, the problem with dozens of SPAM mails, long response time, misunderstandings because of short-hand style, no subject lines or missing attachments, a lack of clear structure, or in some cases simply too many messages in your inbox after a short absence. So, as all complain about this phenomenon, in a round-table discussion with Master students we thought about strategies to improve the situation
In our next category I spoke with some students and asked them what they can’t stand receiving an e-mail message. I was surprised to hear about all that can happen if you don`t have a correct e-mail address.

absolutely hands-on
In third category you will hear Sebastian Dorok, an Apple Distinguished Educator and teacher of English and music at a highschool in Germany. Sebastian talks about his own experiences as a teacher and gives concrete insights into his podcasting project with young students.

absolutely correct part 2
In our last category we will return to our students from RheinAhrCampus, who now give us some advice how to write a good e-mail message.

So, the next time you’ll write an e-mail message to your friends, you familiy or to your colleagues, you know what you have to do.
The next show will be hosted by Anne Fox in Denmark on 30. of April

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

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

absolutely intercultural 106 +++ AnnaLindh Forum +++ Egypt +++ Norway +++ April Fool +++

In this show I’ll be mainly reporting from the Anna Lindh Foundation forum which was held in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago. We’ll be hearing from a Moroccan about his experience of volunteering in Norway. We’ll also be hearing about how Cornelis Hulsman from the Netherlands found himself attracted to go and live in Egypt.  I was making an Internet search challenge recently and included the question ‘How many podcasts about intercultural communication can you find?’ and although there are one or two one-off podcasts on the topic, it still seems that the answer is one and that is Absolutely Intercultural. What’s more this particular show marks our fourth birthday since it is four years, give or take a few days, since we first started.

If I think about my identity as half French, half British and living in Denmark the conclusion I most often come to is that I see myself as European. I have even bought myself a dot eu internet domain so certain I am that Europe defines my identity! So when I was invited to the Anna Lindh Foundation forum in Barcelona last month to live blog that really meant a change in perspective for me since the focus of the Anna Lindh Foundation is a rapprochement between the countries of the Euro Med region. This translates as better mutual understanding between the mainly Arab Southern Mediterranean region and the Europeans on the northern shores of the Mediterranean sea.

absolutely musical
The Barcelona forum was a way for the Anna Lindh Foundation to find out what its priorities in the coming period should be. So we heard about a great many inspiring projects seeking to promote reconciliation and mutual understanding between former enemies. There were also many discussions about best practices and the priorities for the future.  A recurring theme was about how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and there were inspiring stories about how the reconciliation process can be promoted from people in Northern Ireland and the Balkan countries. If the Israeli Palestinian problem seemed intractable then the musical interlude on the last night of the forum certainly gave one hope. The group, Aisikedes, of local musicians from Barcelona together with Omar Faruk played an eclectic mix from the shores of various Mediterranean countries including Greece and Israel.

absolutely secure
One shining example of a one man effort to bring North and South together was Rachad Izzat of Chantiers Sociaux Marocain an organisation which helps young Morrocans find voluntary work. Before working for the CSM Rachad was a volunteer himself in Denmark, Italy and Norway so I asked him about his Norwegian experience. I’ll be talking with Rachad about his current work in Morocco in a future podcast.

absolutely accurate
Another recurring theme during the forum was the issue of media reporting. There were many issues of concern including the quality of reporting, the threat or opportunity posed by the new media and online social networks, censorship and so on. And in fact the quality of media reporting is one major reason which led Cornelis Hulsman to go to Egypt where he founded the Centre for Intercultural Dialogue and Translation as well as well as the Center for Arab-West Understanding and the Electronic Network for Arab-West Understanding. Cornelis Hulsman, originally from the Netherlands is now based in Egypt. I asked him what had brought him to Egypt in the first place. Much of Hulsmans work is aimed at improving the quality of media reporting in the region so I also asked him why he thought this issue was so important.

absolutely Mediterranean
There will be more reports from the ALF Barcelona forum in future podcasts and you can of course find links to the people and organisations mentioned on this blog.  And if you have a comment about the forum and whether such initiatives can do any good then please do leave us a comment. If you were at the forum and think your project should be featured here in the podcast then do get in touch. There were so many interesting projects and I could only be in one place at a time! And if you like the podcast then please do consider voting for us in the European Podcast Awards either under Germany or Denmark (or dare I say it – both). If you need help with the voting then you will find a page on this blog where we explain what to do.

absolutely foolish
Finally for this show I was speaking about this podcast to some graduates of teacher training courses at The Consultants-e and realised that this show would be coming out on April 2nd, the day after April Fool’s Day. In Britain, France and Denmark this is a day for playing tricks on people and I was interested to know how far this tradition extended. So listen as Bea from Argentina and Galina from Russia explain whether they have April Fool in their respective countries.

The next show will be coming to you on 16th April from Dr. Laurent Borgmann now back in Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

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











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