Monthly Archive for April, 2011

absolutely intercultural 134 +++ University of the People +++ Shai Reshef +++ Haiti +++


Today is April 29th 2011 and is one of those rare days when an amazingly high percentage of people in the world will be watching scenes from the same event; the wedding in the UK of Prince William and Kate Middleton, so thank goodness for podcasts which can be enjoyed at any time which means that this 134th show of Absolutely Intercultural need not lose out to this international phenomenon. It’s a bit ironic that while the institution of monarchy is in retreat all over the world this event should attract such huge attention. But I think that I may be confusing monarchy with celebrity.

My name’s Anne Fox and this show is coming to you from Denmark where the two major TV channels will both be transmitting the Royal Wedding most of the day! Enough! This show is going to concentrate on another international phenomenon but in this case one which has the potential for improving the lives of many people. We will be re-visiting the University of the People which offers free university tuition to people who, for a variety of reasons, could otherwise never hope for a college education. As we find out more about this very different route to a university degree we will eavesdrop on everyday life in Haiti where the University of the People is making extra efforts to support their students there.

absolutely democratic
Even though most people in the world don’t experience going to university directly, most would have a picture in their minds about what this means. So I imagine that picture would include spending three to five years at a campus, attending lectures, buying a pile of books and maybe taking a part time job perhaps? Financially it might be a struggle as more and more universities are forced to charge fees; up to £9000 per year in England for example. It often also means leaving home and living in halls of residence or digs. But what if someone comes along who has a very different idea about what going to university looks like? Such a person is Shai Reshef, an entrepreneur whose big idea is to make a university education much more accessible by offering free online tuition using open source materials from elite universities such as Harvard and MIT through what he has called The University of The People. We first met Shai Reshef on Absolutely Intercultural in Oct 2009 and I was keen to find out how the project is going. Often on Absolutely Intercultural we are looking at the reactions of people confronted by different norms than they are used to. What Shai Reshef is doing is trying to produce a new norm, a new culture about what a university education looks like which seems to me to be an interesting social experiment.

absolutely Haitian
In the normal way of things Shai Reshef rarely gets to meet any of the UoP students but the University of the People has a special project in Haiti where it is not enough just to offer free tuition over the Internet in a location which has been devasted by an earthquake. In this segment we’ll find out what else is needed to give people in Haiti the opportunity of a university education.You can see the video together with others from the same visit on the University of the People’s YouTube channel. So what do you think about this new approach to getting a college education? If you’ve been to college yourself would you have considered getting your degree in this way? You can add your comments to this blog.

Don’t forget to send in any examples of racism due to visible differences for our next show which will be coming to you from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany on 13th May

So long … stay tuned!

The host of this show is Anne Fox : Editor: Markus Scherer

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absolutely intercultural 133 +++ different skin colours +++ adoption +++ integration of black children +++ children confronted with racism +++

black-boy CG2_SoulArtist on flickrWhat pictures would you have in your minds when we are talking    about people who are visibly different? Perhaps the difference could have something to do with their skin colour? In fact, today I present some exciting interviews for you with people who have children with a different colour.

absolutely integrated
Christiane Bainski, adopted a black youngster who was a pupil in her school class. Of course, this was not the typical way to adopt a child -  the idea actually came from Busa himself, her pupil, who was taught by Christiane. Can you imagine how Busa convinced his teacher to adopt him? It was a big step for both, teacher and pupil - but the administrative side was less complicated than expected. Let us listen to Christiane’s report. 

absolutely mysterious
Iris Hansen, also a white woman has three beautifully coloured children. However, her husband is also white. So the obvious question is:  “Where does all the  colour of the children come from?” Sounds mysterious? Could it have anything to do with the fact that Iris’ husband likes dark chocolate as he sometimes jokingly suggests?

absolutely adopted
Paul Masson is also the father of a coloured boy.  He tells us that Mathieu, his black son, sometimes misinterpreted stereotypes about black people he heard when he was young. For example one time he got really worried when at school he learned that black children do not get enough to eat …

Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 29 April

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Markus Scherer

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absolutely intercultural 132 +++ Communication Station +++ Diversophy +++ Liu Yang +++ ELTONS +++ Natalia Pérez de Herrasti +++

Culture is often bound up in language and language learning and in our first category, absolutely educational, I found a very unusual way of learning a language….

For those of you who do not live in Europe I imagine that some of you sometimes think that we exaggerate the differences within Europe but when I talked to Natalia Pérez de Herrasti, a Spaniard living in Germany, I was introduced to a whole new perspective explaining the differences between Spaniards and Germans!

And if you want to test yourself on your understanding of some of these differences then I’ll be introducing you to the intercultural games from Diversophy which you can get on paper, in the virtual world, Second Life and as mobile phone apps.

Another app which I’ve just discovered is Google Translate for Animals. You can get this for Android phones and all you do is hold your phone in front of the animal to record what they are saying and Google Translate for Animals will translate this and speak the message for you. Unfortunately this is only in English at the moment but it really opens up a whole new world for us to interact with. There is also a video demonstrating how this works.

absolutely challenging
But we’ll start with an intercultural challenge. This came up while I was talking to Natalia Pérez de Herrasti and took me a little by surprise as it was not something that I had ever thought about. So let’s be absolutely challenging and see if you know the answer to this little intercultural situation. I’ll give you some time to think about that and reveal my reply at the end of the show!

absolutely educational
In our next category, absolutely educational, I’m going to let you listen to the homework of one of the students on the Communication Station course offered by UIC. What was her homework? To make a podcast about the Gay Pride carnival in London during which she learned a couple of intercultural differences along the way

absolutely first class
This way of learning English won first prize at the British Council ELTON awards in February for innovation in English language teaching and in our next category, absolutely first class So let’s find out how the students react and how you can sell this as a language learning course.

absolutely oriental
Natalia Pérez Herrasti who is Spanish has been teaching the language in Germany for almost twenty years. Natalia got in touch with us to tell us about the new four volume book she is writing in Spanish about a practical approach to intercultural communication, but our conversation ranged far and wide and the bit I want to play now is when Natalia suggested that one reason that the Spanish and Germans are so different is that the Spanish have a very oriental outlook. I really recommend a visit to Liu Yang’s exhibition of intercultural graphics  as they are very thought-provoking.

absolutely playful
So images are one way of thinking about intercultural situations and games are another. Diversophy is the name of a collection of games which can be played face to face, online in Second Life or on your mobile phone. The Second Life games are free and there is lots of information and free samples on the Diversophy website. I’m hoping to be able to talk to someone from the Diversophy organisation in a future show so that I can get behind the thinking behind playing to learn.

And talking of playing to learn, have you thought about that little conundrum that we presented you with at the beginning of the show? And to make that into even more of a game I have chosen Natalia’s intercultural challenge as the snippet to use in the online dictation game for this show.  By the way, did you notice the date today? One of the items I mentioned on the show is not true! I wonder if you can guess which one? If not, then April Fool!

Our next show will be coming to you from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany on15th April

So long … stay tuned!

The host of this show is Anne Fox : Editor: Markus Scherer

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