Archive for June, 2010

absolutely intercultural 112 +++ blogs to watch +++ Valentina Dodge +++ Open University +++ heaven +++ World Cup +++ Bulgaria +++

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absolutely tagged
When we first started this show back in 2006 and wrote here that we were the first podcast to deal with intercultural matters I thought it wouldn’t be long before we had many competitors. But now four years later something has happened to make me look again to see what is available for people interested in intercultural issues and it seems to me the situation has not changed that much. This podcast was tagged as ‘one to watch’ by Valentina Dodge, a teacher of English and online teacher trainer who writes a blog called Life Long Learning. Being tagged gives us the obligation to nominate ten more blogs to watch. This tagging or nomination is part of an initiative called “Vale a pena ficar de olho nesse blog”, which means “It’s worth keeping an eye on this blog”. So how does this work? The chosen blog has to copy the picture above, with a link to the blog from which it has received the award. And since this is a podcast I thought I would nominate a mix of blogs and podcasts and I thought that they should be about intercultural issues. And what I found is that there are certainly no other podcasts doing quite what we do but I think I have found some interesting ones anyway. In all I have found 5 blogs and 5 podcasts. I’ll alternate between the blogs and the podcasts. So, onto the first blog. 

1. Intercultural Eyes
My first choice is Intercultural Eyes  by Bettina Hansel an American geographer and here is an extract from a post she made about friendship as a cultural value:

Nowhere do you find the values of a society so clearly marked as when you look at what educators are trying to teach children. I am still mulling over a recent New York Times article that discussed the efforts of some U.S. educators to discourage children from having just one “best friend” on the grounds that other children will feel excluded. Those from other countries who have puzzled over the seemingly superficial nature of U.S. friendship would do well to read this article and see if it sheds some light on the experiences you have had. Apparently these schools claim to be worried about the nastiness that can take place with exclusive cliques, and don’t want students to be ”so possessive about friends” but I am not convinced that their attempt to encourage children to form big groups of friends is a cure for social exclusion or bullying. I haven’t noticed that bullies have a single “best friend.” Yet, according to the Times article, school and summer camp personnel are concerned about children who form a tight friendship with just one other child. The goal is “healthy” (read: not too dependent) relationships with everyone.

2. Global Voices
Now we’ll hear from my first podcast choice which is Global Voices, a huge multi-lingual portal with both text, audio and video. I’ve chosen an extract from an interview about an online initiative using blogs and video to bring American, Armenian and Azerbaijani teenagers together to work on creating socially conscious media. If you want to hear more you’ll have to go to globalvoicesonline.org/-/podcasts

3. Pocket Cultures
And for my second blog I have chosen Pocket Cultures which is written by many different people all over the world. At the moment there has just been a series about intercultural marriages where couples answer a standard set of questions which include where did you meet, what language do you speak at home and do you try to cook food from each other’s countries?

4. Interfaith Voices
And now for the second podcast which is about religion. It’s called Interfaith Voices and basically explores issues relevant to all the major world religions such as the recent child abuse scandals in the Catholic church or whether there is a relationship between terrorism and Islam. I found this piece about how your idea of heaven may be shaped by your culture interesting.

5. Intercultural Memories
For my next blog recommendation I nominate Intercultural Memories by George Simons who is one of the directors of SIETAR France. Sietar is the Society for intercultural education, training and research and what Simons does in his blog is mainly review books about intercultural issues. He doesn’t post very often but if you want to build up a strong intercultural library then this is the place to go for guidance.

6. Quanxi
Often you need intercultural knowledge because you are doing business across cultures. One of the biggest business blocks is now China and many people help you to understand the Chinese approach to business. Britain’s Open University make a great deal of their material freely available and here is an example from a series about business in China which explains the concept of quanxi which I guess could be translated as reciprocity or obligation.

7. Cindy King
Blog number four is Cindy King’s blog  In fact Cindy is an expert on cross-cultural communication in social media and is a prolific Twitterer too. One thing I especially like about Cindy’s blog are her regular International links posts in which she rounds up on interesting intercultural web links.

8. The World
Now for podcast number four which is PRI’s The World. This is a co-production of WGBH/Boston, PRI, and the BBC World Service. Basically it is designed to explain the world to an American public and the topics covered range far and wide. One nice feature of their podcasts are that they provide full transcripts so if you’re learning English this may help.

As England and the US have both just limped through to the next stages of the FIFA World Cup I thought I would play you an extract from a piece they did about the relationship betwen the two countries when it comes to football (recorded before the start of the World Cup by the way).

9. Separated by a common language
And now to my final blog choice which continues the American versus England theme. The blog attempts to explain the difference between British English and American English. The writer Lynne Murphy is American and married to a Briton. The blog is often very funny and here is a short piece about toliets!

 Why is it that the (BrE) cubicles in American (BrE) public toilets never go all the way to the floor or the ceiling and there’s always a huge gap that keeps the door from ever fully being closed, meaning that one can never have true privacy?

 

As is often the case with cross-cultural rhetorical questions, there is a hyperbole-coated grain of truth here.  But first, the vocabulary.  You’ll have noticed that I marked BH’s cubicles as BrE.  I learned about this at Scrabble Club, when I had cause to mention a little sub-room in the ladies’ room that contains a single toilet.  I emerged from said room and informed someone that “There’s no paper in the second (AmE) stall“, at which point a competitor loudly exclaimed, “What, you were at the theat{re/er} in there?”  And so I defensively asked “What would you call it then?”  Ta-da! I give you cubicle.

10. Enough to make your head spin
And so to my final podcast which is from the American Peace Corps website and their wonderful Coverdell World Wise Schools Service. I can’t recommend too highly their intercultural communication training materials which are available free of charge on the website and this extract is from on of the many recordings made by former peace corps volunteers about their postings all over the world. This one is about the Bulgarian way of saying yes and no. It’s a cliche of intercultural communication that you nod your head to say no and shake it to say yes but when you actually have to live it then its quite a different matter.

Thank you to all those podcasters who gave us permission to bring you these extracts.  Do go and visit these blogs and podcasts but I hope that in the end you will still come back to us. And if you still think we’re pretty good then why not vote for us in the European Podcast Award. Voting is open until the end of July and you’ll find details about how to do it here.

Don’t forget that you can still vote for us in the European Podcast Awards both on the German page and the Danish page.

The next show will be coming to you on 9 July from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

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


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absolutely intercultural 111 +++ Football World Cup +++ Theater der Welt +++ stereotypes +++

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Theater der Welt

Theater der Welt - first production 30 June

Today, Friday 11 June 2010, the world’s eyes are on the start of the Football World Cup in South Africa, in which people from so many different nations will meet each other and confront different cultures. Listeners across the world, please keep your fingers crossed that this World Cup in Africa will become a memorable intercultural event!
I must admit – I am not even a football fan, and certainly no specialist, but I thought I have to make an effort and speak about football today, about stereotypes, about cultural misunderstandings and linguistic challenges connected with big international events – not just football but also cultural events. I talked with people from Belgium, England and Spain, to see what kinds of experiences they have made in intercultural communication.

absolutely confused
As you all know, today the Football world cup in South Africa starts and I’m sure that most of you can’t wait to see your favorite team win. Have you noticed that while we think of these international events are great intercultural meeting places, international football matches often give rise to a lot of terrible stereotypes? These are moments when fans dig deep and sometimes come up with very unpleasant clichés. English tabloids sometimes use war metaphors to describe the German teams in a contest. I called Jean, a friend of mine who moved from Manchester to Bonn years ago. In our first category she tells us how those terrible old stereotypes always come up again when there is an international football event.

absolutely ambiguous
Now, two days ago, I was very lucky and was able to get a personal interview with an incredibly interesting person. Frie Leysen is the Programme Director of the “Theatre of the World” Event and came to Cologne to share her vision of this great international event of performing arts with us. While many of us interested in intercultural communication try to reduce ambiguity by finding cultural explanations for differences and theories for coping with unwanted loss of orientation, Frie does the opposite. She invites more than 30 of the most interesting theatre productions to one location in order to force the audience to embrace ambiguity and misunderstandings.

absolutely perplexed
Some time ago I met Marlen from Spain who had spent some time in Germany and she shared with us the cultural differences which exist between Spain and Germany. In our next category we’ll hear what experiences Marlen made with German men in the streets and how she learned to handle them.

absolutely proud
Now let us come back to Jean, with whom I continued the football conversation about the psychological problems Germans used to have with their national pride after the war and the taboo of private flags. Now, this changed a lot during the World Cup in Germany in 2006 when at least the younger generations put these taboos behind them and behaved like youngsters all over the world. And now, before the world cup starts we can see this again. Suddenly, it seems acceptable to put a flag in your window or even on your car. In our last category Jean is divided whether flags and partiotism should be seen as right or wrong.

The next show will be hosted by Anne Fox in Denmark on 25 June

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editor: Dino Nogarole

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