Today our topic is about intercultural meetings and I have a co-host, Lucy, from Australia. Maybe some of you remember her from one of our last shows, in which I interviewed her about her first impressions of Europe. She is doing an internship at Rhein Ahr Campus in Remagen and has agreed to help our editor Dino and me with this episode.
Do you often take part in meetings? Do you like meetings or do you think they are a waste of time? Have you ever taken part in an international meeting, with participants from all over the world? If you have and if you had no problems, congratulations – you are perhaps a natural talent? For those of you who never had the chance to participate in such a meeting, let me tell you, it can be full of traps and dangers. Imagine a room with people from 6 or 7 different countries, that means 6 or 7 different cultures and different working habits. Now you can imagine that such a meeting can be a challenge for all participants. At a round table discussion Lucy, Dino and I discussed some topics relating to taking care and being aware of different attitudes in meetings.
Try to remember meetings in your own culture. What is the predominant style for finding the truth or for taking a difficult decision? Do participants seem to “fight each other” with words and arguments like lawyers in an adversarial system or are you used to the consensual approach which concentrates more on the common ground between different opinions and not so much on the differences?
Let us include two more cultures in this. Nicole is from Austria and Thomas from the Czech Republic. They shared with me their experiences of meetings. Sometimes you have to spend all day in project meetings with your colleagues, and after the meetings you may want to be on your own.
absolutely well prepared
Now for the second part of the round table. Controversies within a meeting are discussed as well as which document is needed, what preparation needs to be done and what the perfect duration of a meeting is. Also, stay tuned to find out how Lucy picked on a poor German girl during one of my meetings… If you only remember one thing from this podcast let it be this piece of advice – make sure you are mentioned in the minutes after a meeting, otherwise it’s like you were never there!
Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 12. November
Welcome to AbsolutelyIntercultural, the podcast where we look at all things intercultural. We’re going to see if playing games can increase your intercultural knowledge. I’m talking about serious games which are becoming more widespread in education at all levels.
absolutely serious Mikkel Lucas Overby works for a Danish company Serious Games Interactive which has produced several games both in Danish and English which are mainly aimed at high school students. The games explore topics which we all know something about such as the Israeli Palestinaian conflict, child soldiers in Arifca or child labour in Asia. But the difference here is that you are on the ground and have to deal with the situation by interacting with the different people involved. I tried out a couple of these and so did my daughter, Gwen. But are there limits even within Serious Games? It seems yes when you hear what Mikkel has to say about their forthcoming game about the slave trade. I started by asking him how the Serious Games Interactive company started and how they chose the topics of their games.
absolutely playful As you heard I got to play a couple of their games and so did my daughter Gwen who took on the role of a buyer from a European clothes company inspecting reports that the factory which sources their leather uses child labour. How did she fare?
absolutely military And what about war? We’ve mentioned this before on Absolutely Intercultural but one of the groups which need intercultural communication skills the most are soldiers. Think for example about the situation in Afghanistan where you need to get on with the locals for all sorts of reasons including to get a continual stream of information from them. In the game ‘Connecting with Haji Kamal’, Lieutenant Justin Harril is about to meet Haji Masoud Kamal, an influential local leader who Harril hopes will become a longterm contact. Harril knows that Haji Kamal is going to offer him chai, the local tea which he really doesn’t like? We hear the advice offered by two other officers. The Lieutenant has the following choices, refuse saying he’s not thirsty, refuse saying he’s allergic or accept. What’s the best choice? The game is available online from the World Warfighter company which specialises in military intercultural training through games.Earlier we had a taste of the type of interaction faced by soldiers in Afghanistan. The game Connect with Haji Kamal is available online at worldwarfighter.com and takes about 10 minutes to play. You heard the first dilemma at the beginning of the show when Lieutenant Harril is offered tea which he thinks he won’t like. What did you decide he should do? Of course if you refuse his hospitality then that won’t start your relationship with him on a good footing. How might the visit continue? The soldiers noticed a field of cannabis plants growing close by Haji Kamal’s house – should they mention it? So the choices are to compliment Haji Kamal on his cannabis crop, admire the hills or suggest that you get down to business. What would you choose? I think this game would be a great discussion starter plus it is a great way to try out various strategies without the consequences being too bad as you can always re-start the game. So what if you had refused the tea? If you want to see how the situation develops you’ll have to go to the worldwarfighter website and play the game yourself. And if you have any comments about how you did or what you think of the game then you can leave them at the end of this blog post.
absolutely virtual There are intercultural games for children in the virtual world of Wiglington and Wenks where you can visit Brazil, London and Madagascar finding out about the places as you go. I sent my younger daughter, Mia on safari to explore Wiglington and Wenks. I had a feeling she was older than the target group but younger children might learn something about the world in Wiglington and Wenks.
And there are also intercultural quizzes in one of the most famous virtual worlds of them all, Second Life. SIETAR is the society for intercultural education, training and research and they have equipped a whole floor of their building in Second Life with over 30 quizzes about different countries. So for example in the quiz on Sweden you can answer a question about being offered a pat of butter on a butter knife at a dinner. What happens to the knife? Do you only use it to put the butter on your plate, or use it to butter your bread and then return it or use it and keep it as yours? The answer is butter your bread and return it. If you want to try the rest of the quiz or quizzes for other countries then you can find the link to SIETAR’s place in Second Life here.
So what do you think? Could playing computer games help raise your intercultural awareness? Did we miss out some really good digital intercultural games? I’d be very curious to hear about your experiences with any of the games I’ve mentioned and any that I missed out.
Merhaba, welcome, and iyi günler. Yes, I have learned some basic Turkish and took part in a beginners’ language course. Why did I do that? Well, here in Germany we have important Turkish communities in our big cities, so my idea was to learn more about their language and their culture. G’day from down under! I also want to present Lucy! Lucy is one of our new members in the international team of the Rhein AhrCampus in Remagen. She is from Australia and over the next months we might hear more from her if she decides to help us with this podcast.
As you know, every year we have a number of international students, who visit us to spend a semester or two at our university. One of our newly arrived incoming students is Lucy Warren from the University of the Sunshine Coast. She is half Australian and half South African. So I asked her about the first impressions she had after her arrival and what differences she has noticed in Europe. Perhaps we will be able to convince Lucy to keep us up to date with her intercultural discoveries throughout her stay over the next months? In our first category she told me her stereotypes about Europe and the very first impressions she gained.
I took an interview with Maria Koehnen. She spent a semester in Belgium where she met a number of international students from all over the world. She explained to me how to get an ERASMUS scholarship and stressed the advantages of a semester abroad. So, how can one semester abroad change you so much?
A couple of weeks ago I created my own challenge. I took part on an intensive Turkish language course at Netzwerk Deutsch in Cologne for one week. Many friends and colleagues asked me “Why Turkish?” and it is true that as I have learned English, Latin, French and Italian at school and at university, it would have been a little more plausible to learn Spanish for example. And clearly this would have been a lot easier for me! However, in our private and professional lives we are surrounded by people from all over the world, with different languages and different cultures. On my way to our supermarket I actually meet more people who can speak Turkish than people who can speak English as I live very close to a Turkish community in Cologne. So my aim was to learn more about this culture and now I am proud to say, that when I went to my Turkish corner shop last week, I managed to do the small talk in Turkish. I am amazed at the reactions, shop keepers immediately turn into friends. It is almost as if I was the first person they have met who has learned a little bit of Turkish just for my social life. I must admit though that learning Turkish was the hardest thing I have ever learned in my whole life and in our third and last category I talked with participants and the teacher of my Turkish course, and we tried to find out, why people choose or reject the challenge of learning Turkish.
Enjoy listening to our show no. 119
Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 15.October