Our New Editor from Spain: Elena Colunga Caballero. Welcome to our team!
So what should we be listening to in this podcast:
How do you personally try to gain authentic information about a country and culture that you are interested in? Do you trust the official view of the foreign office website? Or do you go straight to Wikipedia? How about listening to some real people from that country? This way you will get the unofficial story from the citizens themselves. Perhaps it could be interesting to listen to a father of two children who can tell you what it is really like to take the two on public transport or to a restaurant? This is inside information that you may not find in any of the official publications of the country. Under a system which is called Rotation Curation Movement, Karsten Kneese will host the twitter account of I_amGermany for a week starting next Monday.
Let us explore what you, the listeners can find out about his culture if you follow him during that week. In our first category “absolutely twitter” I asked Karsten how the Rotation Curation Movement has developed since it started in Sweden last year. If you are interested, please find “I_amGermany” on Twitter on Monday and follow Karsten around for a week. This is grass-roots journalism on Twitter that I think you should not miss. You have the opportunity to find out the real story from real citizens without having to travel to the country.
I spoke to a group of students from the German-Jordanian University who jumped in at the deep end and decided to spend a whole semester in Europe. In our second category “absolutely stereotypical” I asked them what their parents and friends had warned them about before they left.
In our third category “absolutely international” I am talking to a young but very well travelled person. After spending all her holidays abroad since she was 15 she has also studied in France and has now started doing her practical training in the department of Languages /International Affairs at the University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz. I asked Elena from Spain what her friends and family had said when she was planning her big step.
Let us now return to the group of Jordanians who told me that in their country it would be very unusual for a lecturer to go to the university by bike, because there seems to exist a bigger “power distance” between lecturers and their students. We also learn that in Jordan, if you get invited to dinner you have to refuse several times in order to be polite before you finally accept. So one of the students politely said “No” to a dinner invitation in Germany but then learned the hard way that here you only get one shot, and he was not invited again. In our last category “absolutely different” I asked the students to explain major cultural differences which they have observed during the first weeks in Europe.
Our next show will again be coming to you on 2nd of November from Anne Fox in Denmark.
Today I would like to pick up the topic of your last show. We talked about CSR which stands for “Corporate Social Responsibility”. In times of global markets and increased business competition, Small and Medium sized Enterprises must find a way to increase their competitive edge. Therefore they often try to save costs as a result of competitive conditions and market instabilities. However, maybe a cultural change in companies will give them a competitive advantage? Implementing and practicing CSR may lead to increased costs and you may not see the benefits immediately. So why do successful companies go in that direction? Apparently around 50% of American and European SMEs believe that CSR-activities are somewhat effective for their business. SMEs can change their company culture and provide significant benefits by investing in small, efficient projects in society to increase their own visibility in the community. Some companies may do something good for the environment or donate money and others might start working in close cooperation with Non-Profit and Non-Governmental Organizations. This time I would like to approach the topic from a different angle. CSR is becoming more and more important in business life and thus future managers should have a solid knowledge about it. In previous shows I talked to CSR specalists such as lecturers from different European universities and employees of companies which have implemented CSR in their business plans. Our focus was to find out how CSR work changes the culture within the company but also the contacts between a company and its stake holders. Today my focus is on students and what they learn about CSR during their studies of Business Administration. I interviewed students from Hungary, Russia, and Mongolia who dealt with corporate culture and CSR in their last semester at RheinAhrCampus in Germany in one of my courses called “International Business Simulations”.
absolutely young In our first category I asked Katalin Perjési from Hungary what she thinks about CSR and what she learnt on the course. She will tell us about a project where the students designed and implemented their own CSR projects for the university. They invited school children to the campus to teach them about respect and diversity in the community. Some said afterwards that they walk past the university every day but had never dreamed of spending a day inside before they reach their A-levels. As these were school children who often get taught in classes with many national backgrounds it was not so surprising, how much they already knew about diversity, respect for different cultures and dealing with other children who do not have the same first language.
absolutely green I interviewed Nadya Kokareva from Russia. She will tell us about the vague ideas people have about CSR and gives us some examples of how a university could practice CSR. This is not exclusively about institutions “going green”, which means saving the environment. Nadya also took part in the course and participated in another project. This time, the target group were not the children in the community, but the elderly people who live in a nursing home just 800 metres from campus. In spite of the proximity, the students who took part in the project had never visited the home.
absolutely courageous Oyunbileg is an exchange student from our Turkish partner university in Izmir. However, she is originally from Mongolia and is currently doing her Erasmus semester abroad. In our last category she will talk about her theoretical lectures on stakeholder relationships and relates the theory to the practical CSR projects she was involved in last semester. Finally she gives us an idea of the cultural differences she experienced moving between Mongolia, Turkey and Germany.
Our next show will again be coming to you on 7 of September.
Today I am going to talk about CSR which is short for “Corporate Social Responsibility”. In postmodern times, “Corporate Social Responsibility” has enabled companies to do something good for society and to give something back to the community. Some companies may plant trees or donate money and others might start working in close cooperation with Non-Profit and Non-Governmental Organizations to help people in need. I visited an intercultural Erasmus Intensive Program at Yasar University in Izmir, Turkey, where I got in touch with the big Turkish telecommunications company called “Turkcell”. Together with Corporate Responsiblitly Specialists from Turkcell and university lecturers, who teach CSR-related aspects of marketing we talked about good practice examples of CSR but also about the dark sides of the concept.
absolutely helpful Turkcell afford to have a dedicated department which only deals with CSR issues. In our first category Burcu Haylaz tells us, how their company is doing charity work in Turkey and how quickly they took action after a horrific earthquake struck the province of Van in Eastern Turkey in 2011. Besides that I was really captivated by the “Snowdrops” project for young women and by the idea of the digital moneybox for collecting contributions from the wider public.
absolutely sceptical Unfortunately not every company is really practicing CSR to genuinely help others. Some companies are rather trying to help themselves. Often the campaign appears like 100% marketing for the company. In this category I talked with Ann Knaepen from “Leuven University College” in Belgium, Carla de Lima from the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança in Portugal, Dr. Reka Jablonkai from “Corvinus University” in Hungary and Anne Burke from the “Letterkenny Institute of Technology” in Ireland. Together we talked about the phenomenon of “Green Washing”. This means, that companies that have a bad image in society, are using low-input CSR measures to artificially clean their own image. Green Washing, the negative side of CSR, seems to be an activity which flourishes in the shadow of all the good practice examples of corporate social responsibility. So I guess we need to be careful when we hear about large companies practicing CSR. There is a chance that they may be doing good things for the wrong reasons. Oxfam and Turkcell on the other hand seem to be great examples of companies and organisations that seriously and honestly try to improve the lives of all their stakeholders, not just their customers’.
absolutely idealistic In our last category I would like to come back to our Turkcell CSR specialists. Together with them and the Turkish lecturers, we discussed theoretical aspects of CSR and their practical implementation. My Turkish colleague Duygu Turker who teaches CSR at the university asked Derya Kökten from Turkcell what factors in her view make a CSR activity successful. It is refreshing to hear how the university lecturers and the practitioners were working together on building this bridge between theory and practice in our seminar. I think such encounters, in this case hosted at Yasar University in Izmir, provide excellent opportunities to share important knowledge and to create a network so that students and lecturers from universities and the specialists from companies can work together to find the best solutions.
Our next show will again be coming to you on 3 of August.
Today I am going to talk about CSR which is short for “Corporate Social Responsibility”. My students and I visited an intercultural Erasmus Intensive Program for students and lecturers from 12 different universities all over Europe organized in Izmir at Yasar University in Turkey. We all shared our knowledge and experience concerning the different approaches to CSR in different countries and learned a lot about challenges and benefits in the European context. In general you could say that CSR is meant to improve the relationship between a company and all its stakeholders. It actually must be the responsibility of us all and especially of successful companies to protect society and the environment. CSR also changes company cultures by improving the relationship with employees, suppliers, customers, the environment and the local community.
absolutely win-win In this category, I would like to dive into the topic a little deeper. I am talking to Laura Brandt from the Haute Ecole de la Province de Liège in Belgium. She is a lecturer for Entrepreneurship and a bit of an expert on SMEs, which means “Small and Medium sized Enterprises”. She tells us that, in fact, 99% of all European companies are SMEs. These companies are facing tough economic challenges right now in the crisis. Laura explains why it is so important for SMEs to integrate Corporate Social Responsibility in their “core business values”. I asked her to tell us how she found out about the subject before joining the intensive seminar in Turkey. Laura gives an interesting example of a cleaning company in which CSR really turned into a win-win situtation for the company and all its stakeholders.
absolutely communicative Our last guest for today is Adelheid Korpp. Adelheid and her husband love traveling. About 10 years ago, when they decided to travel around the world, she got in touch with an organization called Servas. Servas provides travellers with free accommodation all over the world, but you only get invited to stay at a host’s place if you obey certain rules of the system. Adelheid will explain how she got in touch with Servas and how the system works. This may, in fact, be the best way to get in touch with locals while travelling through different countries. In my opinion Servas is also an excellent example of a non-profit organisation which could be supported by companies. So, if you are a CEO and you are looking for a good CSR-cause – please do get in touch with them.
Today I am going to talk about the exciting decisions of those students who broaden their horizons by studying abroad. Furthermore we will talk to an expert who helps these students get the right information and financial support for fulfilling their dreams of living and studying in another country. Last but not least I would like to share an urban myth about an intercultural incident on a British Airways flight complete with a happy ending (at least for some of the people involved!)
In Germany it is normal for about 20% of students at universities go abroad during their studies. However, Anne Gründer, is rather special in many ways. She studied Biomathematics and chose to spend a semester studying abroad at EWHA Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea. And because she enjoyed her time so much she actually extended her stay for a second semester. Anna also successfully learned the language with the Asian symbols that look so unfamiliar to the western eye. Now that she is back in Germany she looks back on the cultural differences she experienced and shares how she benefited from her stay. In our first category she will start by telling us why she chose South Korea as her destination for her semester abroad.
absolutely courageous If one of our listeners is toying with the idea of coming to Germany, our interview will be particularly interesting for you. Kata Perjési is an Hungarian student. After spending a study semester abroad in Finland, she had planned to do her internship in Finland too. However, luckily for us she ended up being our new intern here at RheinAhrCampus. Kata is from Corvinus University in Budapest and will stay here for six months. In our next category she is going to tell us, why she chose Germany as her destination and what benefits she expects to get out of her stay abroad.
Our last guest for today is Wolfgang Kräft. He is working for the “German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD”. Together with his team, one of Wolfgang’s jobs is to travel through Germany and to inform German students how they could study abroad and which financial support they can get. They stop in bigger cities with their go-out mobile bus and provide students with a lot of information. In our last category Wolfgang will tell us what the ideal study abroad student should look like, how students can receive information about a semester abroad and finally he will give us advice on how your stay abroad could be the most productive time of our studies.
Let me finish today with an intercultural urban myth about a black man and a white woman – a story has turned into a well-copied piece on the internet over the last decade. According to different versions this incident would have happened on about 17 different Airlines which is not very plausible but the story is nice enough to be re-told here:
“A 50- year old white woman on a British Airways flight arrived at her seat and saw that the passenger next to her was a black man. Visibly furious, she called the air hostess.
“Whats the problem, ma?” the hostess asked her
“Cant you see?” the lady said – “I was given a seat next to a black man. I can’t sit here next to him! You have to change my seat”
– “Please, calm down” – said the hostess
“I think, all the seats are occupied, but I`m still going to check if we have any.”
The hostess left and returned some minutes later.
“Madam, I spoke to the captain and he confirmed that there isn`t any empty seats in the economy class. We only have seats in the first class.”
“Look, it is unusual for our company to allow a passenger from the economy class be upgraded to the first class. However, given the circumstances, the captain thinks that it would be a scandal to make a passenger travel sat next to an unpleasant person.”
And turning to the black man, the hostess quickly said:
“Which means, Sir, if you would be so nice to pack your hand luggage, we have reserved you a seat in the first class…”
And all the passengers nearby, who were shocked to see the scene started applauding, some giving standing ovations.”
absolutely down-under Like my last show, episode 151 also comes to you from Australia. You can listen to how I get woken up by exotic birds outside my bedroom window every morning because 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 just 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. This week my class and tutorial at the University of the Sunshine Coast will not take place because of Australia Day 2012, 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” and if you want to check out what my own life in Australia sounds like, check out my own last show 149.
absolutely diverse I would like to introduce you to my neighbours here in Australia. Simone and Leonardo from Switzerland. Their background is so multicultural that it would perhaps be difficult for them to be nationalistic. I got interested when I noticed that mother and son were using several different languages even between them during an ordinary day.
Believe me I was very confused I when I saw Simone and Leonardo for the first time. From where I was sitting I thought I could distinctly hear about five or six people talking in three different languages but when I looked up I could see only two and had to realize that these two were actually using all three languages between them.
Australia Day is an opportunity to celebrate what is best about Australia including vegimite, BBQs, and cricket but some people are also critical of the fact that the image which is projected on this day is a very “white perspective” where the indigenous people do not really play an important role. I took my microphone into the classrooms to find out what it means to be Australian and what the day actually celebrates. Let us first listen to Mark from England and Meredith and Josh who are Australians. I also asked three international students what they knew about Australia Day and whether they could draw parallels to national or patriotic celebrations and movements in their own countries. I talked to Daniel from Sweden, Martin from the Netherlands and Clement from France.
My mate Len shares with me the secrets of the most Australian of all institutions which no Australia Day can do without. The BBQ or the “Barbie”. I had never thought about the unifying factors of this very male-dominated cooking experience. It is true that every house I have seen so far had a fixed BBQ and there are even public BBQ places in every scenic spot on the coast so that families can have an outdoor experience and bring their own food and drink.
Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 2 March
Happy New Year and welcome to Absolutely Intercultural. In 2010 we won the European Podcast Award thanks to your votes and right now I’m busy listening to a really diverse set of podcasts as judge in the 2011 round of the award. Thanks to you all for your votes then and thanks for still being with us as we reach another landmark with this 150th show.
Tourism is a huge industry but if you want to promote tourism to your country it is a good idea to find out how people perceive it first. And how better to do that than to use pictures? What does the name Nunavut mean to you? If I tell you that Nunavut is a country would you know where it was? If I tell you that it is in Arctic Canada do you suddenly have some pictures in your mind about what it might be like? I must admit that I had never heard of Nunavut until I came across Maarten Loonen’s interesting survey. Maarten is a biologist from the Netherlands and most likely to be seen in arctic regions working on geese so when I heard he was interested in people’s reactions to images I was intrigued as to why. As you heard Maarten is very interested in getting more responses to his survey in the next couple of months and when he has had time to analyse the results I will go back and find out what he discovered. You can find the link to his online survey here.
I’ve just returned to work from my Christmas break which is of course a big and long celebration in Europe, North America and elsewhere, but not everywhere. Would you miss Christmas if you went to live somewhere else? We’re going to get a short update from Rebecca Chadwick who is in India for a year long film skills course. Having experienced 18 Christmasses in the UK will she miss it or be glad to avoid the tinsel and corny Christmas songs for once?
Our next piece reminded me a little about the Iraqi youth orchestra which we featured last year. I was contacted by Paul Suhr who is a member of the band Alma Desnuda meaning naked souls. Alma Desnuda had just completed an amazing project together with Tara J King in which they recorded a song and video with children from all over the world. This is the type of project which you just could not have conceived of not so long ago but which accessible Internet and cheap online communication tools makes entirely possible. I think that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the types of rich connections we can make in a connected world and that creative people are going to find all sorts of different ways to get us talking to each other in the very near future. The project is called Rock our Worldand the song Life we Got, is a celebration. I know that it’s a cliché to say that underneath it all we’re all the same but I think that the beginning of a new year is a good time to celebrate what unites us rather than what divides us. We’re going to hear from Paul firstly about how his band came about and then about how you compose and record a song with the help of 2000 children from all over the world. You can buy the song on iTunes (proceeds go to the Rock Our World organisation) and don’t forget to go and see the video!
Hello Mates and G’day, this is show 149 of our podcast absolutely intercultural. And it is coming to you all the way from down-under, Queensland, Australia where I am teaching and doing some research for one semester. Two months ago, in October 2011, the Queen of England visited Australia. Only a month later, in November by the President of the United States came to Australia, too. And now, in December I started my summer term as a visiting academic at the University of the Sunshine coast (LOL). So who am I? My name is Elmar-Laurent Borgmann and after all these important state visits which were widely reported about in the Australian media I would today prefer to concentrate on more mundane, everyday aspects of life in Australia as experienced by a European. And yet, I hope we will be able to surprise you with some stimulating intercultural findings. Our interviewees today are from France, from Germany, and of course from Australia.
Let us look at an ordinary day in Australia. Some people back in Europe listened to my absolutely down-under reports during my last stay in Australia. They had heard about a “Tropical Christmas by the Pool” or a “National Australia Day” which I described both in previous shows and learned a lot about intercultural differences. However, some of them asked me to concentrate more on a the normal, regular, everyday life in Queensland. And they are right – we do expect holidays and celebrations to be different in different countries – but how about a regular university day? Hmm, what a challenge. I had thought this was too boring to record but maybe not? So, I followed myself with the microphone and recorded my intercultural impressions one morning from getting up at 7 o’ clock until I arrived at the University of the Sunshine Coast at 9. You will notice from my comments how much I like this part of the world – except for the first minutes after waking up – I admit, I am not a morning person. In the podcast you catch me waking up with my windows wide open to the tropical forest. In a second part later in the show I continue my intercultural report about a regular Australian morning going to work on the Sunshine Coast in my car. I would like to share some thoughts about beautiful landscapes but also of rather masculine-looking cars and trucks in this country before I arrive at the University of the Sunshine Coast where finally I see some wild kangaroos, not on a road sign but in real life and much closer than I expected …
I will also take you into the university, where international students from Europe will describe how in their International Marketing Class they did some work for an Australian Business. The round-table discussion was recorde after an exam situation a couple of weeks ago right at the start of the summer semester 2011/2012. To me summer 2011/2012 still sounds rather weird as in Europe only winter semesters could span two calendar years. So this is just another reminder that we are in the southern hemisphere. But back to the classroom. I was invited to sit in on the exams of students on the Master of International Business program. Apart from myself as external examiner, there was of course Dr. Leone Cameron, the regular lecturer but also, Mike Arieni, Managing Director of EXlites, a regional business for whom the group of international students had done some research about solar Energy in Europe. I asked the group how this combination of international students, an interculturally trained lecturer and a local business person enhanced their academic progress. Leone’s Master course the students had the chance to get in touch with a real business man and help him prepare his business plan for entering the European Market. Just like Mike, I, too, was impressed by the depth of the students’ research and I had a feeling that Mike took very good notice of the opportunities and challenges that the students presented for the different European countries. In a second part we will also hear from Waldemar Schneider and Clément Slastan about some of the stereotypes the international students confirmed when they lived together in shared apartments. Clément seems to have noticed a certain “lack of flexibility” in the Germans.
Once you have heard the show, please go to our “write us an email“-button in the right margin and tell us whether you liked these slightly unusual intimate insights into my own life down-under and whether you would like to get more such personal reports.
Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 6 January.
In this show we’ll be looking mostly at languages in the US and how that helps or hinders intercultural understanding.
We’ll start with Louis Michot, one of the prime movers behind the Cajun Punk band the Lost Bayou Ramblers. In show 144 we heard about their music and what it meant to the band members as well as its cultural roots. Another topic that we talked a great deal about was the status of the French language in Louisiana. I made a trip to Louisiana many years ago and I have to say that the language was not really evident but when I talked to Louis I discovered that this was because it was mostly hidden. So the question is why would anyone in Louisiana want to hide the fact that they can speak French? And do people in Louisiana still learn French? Is it absolutely francophone?
So there’s a lot of sensitive history behind the survival of the French language in that part of the United States. Then a few weeks ago, my eyes and ears in Florida, Kole Odutola alerted me to a Communiqué sent out by the Southeast African Languages and Literatures Forum on October 2nd, which read: We, the members of Southeast African Languages and Literatures Forum (SEALLF) at the second annual conference of the forum held at the Chapel Hill Campus of the University of North Carolina, acknowledge that in view of the internationalization of the curriculum at many American colleges and universities, there is the need to increase the number of American undergraduate and graduate students engaged in the study of critical languages of Africa.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks many US universities beefed up their foreign language requirements in recognition of the fact that to understand another culture it helps greatly if you know a bit of the language. So here was a Communiqué suggesting that the foreign language requirement should more often lead to the learning of an African language such as Yoruba. But why? To find out more I spoke to Dr Désiré Baloubi of Shaw University in North Carolina, the Chair of the Forum behind the Communiqué. And during the course of our conversation I also learned a new acronym, HBCU, which stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. So why does an English teacher start a campaign to promote the learning of African languages?
absolutely illegal The issue of language just doesn’t go away and after finding out how and why Louis Michot learned French, I spoke to his father Tommy Michot to find out more about attitudes to the French language in the recent past and discovered that at one point it was absolutely illegal! We’ll start by hearing as Tommy Michot sings in French a snippet of La Valse de la Meche Perdue with his band Les Frères Michot.
Thanks to all those who took part and remember that if you’ve got a good idea for a show then get in touch and we’ll see if we can include it. We’re always on the look out for interesting people and ideas. Don’t forget to take a look at our webiste if you want to follow up on some of the people or issues we’ve looked at in this show. You’re welcome to leave us a comment about what you thought, a question or a suggestion.
Thanks for your support which got us all the way to a European Podcast Award last year. The nominations are open for this year’s competition and as part of the PR around the award I was interviewed about this podcast and what it meant to win the award. You’ll find a link to that podcast here.
Well it’s been a busy few weeks in which amongst other things I took part in the Managing Cultural Diversity seminar held every year at the Rhein Ahr campus. And this year there are pictures so here is a link to the Facebook Album. And as if this wasn’t enough, my co-host Laurent Borgmann is once again leaving for Australia for a few months. So in order to make things more manageable we have decided to go monthly. So watch out for the next show which will be coming to you from Down Under!