Welcome to the first ever intercultural podcast. ‘absolutely intercultural!’ is its name and, as far as we know, this is the first podcast in the world to deal with intercultural issues. We’ll be releasing a new episode every second Friday evening, looking at all intercultural aspects of human intercultural communication. For example, we’ll be hearing from students on foreign work placements, asking how teachers can make use of intercultural exercises and simulations in their classroom and sharing with you any intercultural gossip we come across. ‘absolutely intercultural!’ won’t be so much about passing on information but more about starting an intercultural dialogue between the makers, and you, the contributors and listeners.
Happy New Year! Welcome to the first Absolutely Intercultural show of 2015 brought to you by Anne Fox in Denmark.
We start by going absolutely global as the Living Your Ideal Global Life Summit, which ran for the first time last January, is about to happen again. I will let Sabrina Ziegler one of the main organisers, tell us what we can expect this year. Don’t forget that it is free to participate, you can sign up at the website and the dates are from 26 to 30 January. If we’re lucky we may be bringing you a few highlights from the summit in a future show.
This show is a little different as most of it is given over to a discussion I had with a group of students from the University of Dubuque in Iowa on the topic of stereotypes. Their teacher, Franklin Yartey contacted us and we arranged to meet via Skype. We had just run a two week series of links about stereotypes on our Facebook page so many of the issues were fresh in my mind and it was great to have all these different perspectives. Let’s go absolutely stereotypical and eavesdrop on a discussion I had with Franklin Yartey’s class on the topic of stereotypes. Just a bit of harmless fun or can stereotypical thinking really affect the course of people’s lives? I started by asking if anybody in the class had ever been stereotyped. Skype. Thanks to Nicholas Dolson, Austin Healey, Sydney Temperly, Cody J. Shipp, Rika Thibodeaux, Guillermo Garcia, Chris Gansen, Adrian Collier, Brittany Chenelia, Bekka Jacobs and all the other members of the class. Thanks to Franklin Yartey who started the whole thing off and who helped out with a great deal of technical support.
See below for a very eloquent and passionate overview of the issue.
So, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and stay tuned!
The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on February 6th so until then, stay tuned!
Yes it may be cliché Scottish music, but Amazing Grace is the only bagpipe music that I could find with a Creative Commons licence, and I did like a bit of bagpipe music when I lived in Scotland a long time ago. A couple of months ago I was on a trip to Scotland where all the talk was about the Scottish referendum so I thought I would talk to a few people about it, but would they talk to me?
We had a phenomenal response to our stereotype fortnight on the Facebook page. Thank you to all those of you who liked us and thanks especially to Henrik who was our 400th liker. And yes it really is complete coincidence that Henrik is based in Denmark!
Coming up in mid-November we’ll have a polychronic and monochromic fortnight – Poly what? It’s all about your perception of time and how you use it and if you’re not sure what that is all about and how it relates to intercultural communication then head on over to our Facebook site from November 17th.
So back to Scotland. It’s rare that a new country is born peacefully. I can think of the division of Czeckoslovakia in my lifetime and very few other examples. But when the Scottish National Party won a landslide victory in the devolved Scottish parliament in 2011, they had a mandate to run a referendum of whether the people of Scotland wanted Scotland to become independent and so on September 18th the vote was held. In case you don’t know the result I’ll let you know at the end! But while we were in Scotland there was no getting away from the referendum with posters everywhere and people trying to sway you on the street corners and in private homes the topic came up pretty much wherever we went.
absolutely new One of the most noticeable aspects of the referendum was who was allowed to vote. So let’s start with absolutely new to Scotland, the whole reason I was in Scotland, my daughter, Gwen Fox, who was moving there to start her studies at Aberdeen University.
And next we’ll talk to Huw Mitchell who at 17 has the vote.
absolutely no doubt
One man who was in absolutely no doubt is Ewan McIntosh, as he explained to a group of Norwegian High School students that had contacted him as part of their studies of European politics.
We heard more about this question of voting with your head or your heart from Ian Frances who works in Aberdeen.
And finally I talked to Huw’s mother, Philippa about why she was keeping absolutely quiet about her views.
Is a country the same as a culture? Does Scotland have a culture so different that it should be separate from the rest of Britain? Do nation states even matter any more? I’m afraid we haven’t touched on any of those questions but there was a very interesting article about how fragile the idea of a nation state is in the New Scientist (summary only) recently.
Thanks to Gwen Fox, Huw Mitchell, Philippa Mitchell, Ian Francis and Ewan McIntosh for contributing to the show. ….
Oh the result? In the end it was tight but the No’s won, so Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom.
So, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and stay tuned! We’ll play you out with medieval music, by German band Strang, playing Dance Dame Jolie.
The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on December 5th so until then, stay tuned!
Isn’t it great to experience new cultures by travelling to different parts of the world? Four weeks ago I spent my holiday in Andalucía, in Spain. I have wanted to go there for a long time: Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla – the place names have always sounded attractive to me.
On the first day my wife and I took part in a guided bicycle tour in Malaga – and by chance – we met Nils Langer. He told me that in the framework of his studies at the university he is completing a tourism internship in a Spanish bicycle shop
Quite a number of my students take on internships abroad in order to gain intercultural awareness and to improve their language- and transferable skills. They are culturally immersed in their host country much more than during a regular holiday. Working as an intern abroad provides them with insights into foreign work environments and working styles. Afterwards they benefit from the new international contacts they made during their internships abroad.
On my holiday in Spain, I took part in a guided bicycle tour in Malaga. I was rather surprised when I found out that our very competent young guide; Nils Langer was a German student from Lippstadt – doing his internship in a shop which offers guided tours for tourists in a variety of languages. First I asked him what his main tasks during his internship were and if he recognized any improvement of his intercultural skills.
absolutely dressed up
Sandra Elsom – an Australian guest lecturer at RheinAhrCampus in Remagen, – recognized a great number of intercultural differences right when she came to Europe. She even noticed that Germans are physically different from Australians and it made her a bit uncomfortable. Would that mean that size matters after all?
I interviewed Vladimir Jescht the native Russian owner of Bike2Malaga, The Guided Tours& Bike Rental Shop right by the sea. In the brochure Vladimir calls himself the “bike adventure specialist”. He does not only offer bicycles for rent but also – as we heard from Nils – offers international tours for tourists. I asked him to explain the concept.
In this show we’re going to be featuring a new business dedicated to making it easier for all to apply to American universities.
The company is called AdmitSee and we’ll be talking to Stephanie Shyu one of the co-founders. One of the biggest sources of students to American universities is China, where the university entrance process is quite different. So what would you do if you needed help in applying to a foreign university? In China, they often turn to an agent who charges a great deal of money to help you out with language issues and especially in writing a personal statement, which most Chinese have no experience with. The idea that Stephanie Shyu and her co-founders had, was to create a site where students who had already secured a university place could share various aspects of their successful application for a much smaller fee than an agent would charge.
I must admit that one of my first thoughts was, wouldn’t this lead to plagiarism, but AdmitSee have thought of that too and they put all material through plagiarism software before allowing it to be part of their website. Plagiarism is also a reason to be banned from using the site.
I got to talk to four people from Admit See and along the way I learned a great deal about the differences between applying to universities in different countries. You will find the link to AdmitSee dot com on our blog at absolutely dash intercultural dot com as well as a short promotional video which explains how it works.
For example I learned that in China there are different high school courses depending on whether you plan to go to university in China or abroad. I also learned that hiring an agent to help you with your university application does not always help anyway.
It’s always interesting to find out where ideas for new businesses come from so that was one of my first questions when I had the chance to talk to AdmitSee’s co-founder Stephanie Shyu. So let’s go absolutely entrepreneurial and find out what prompted her to start this business. It looks as though your own immediate context has a lot to do with what type of business idea you’re going to come up with.
Next I had a very short chat with Ilse Calderon, another AdmitSee employee, who told me about the big differences she found between starting at university in France and the US.
The next AdmitSee employee I talked to has himself been through the confusing process of trying to get a college place while based in China by putting his trust in a third party. Let’s hear why it is so absolutely complicated.
And finally we hear from Mindy Zhou, whose aunt in China found another way to prepare her son for college in America.
So thanks to AdmitSee for getting in touch with us and for being willing to share all their stories. I certainly learned a great deal about the problems faced by applicants outside the US although AdmitSee is also useful for American High Schoolers. It all seems very different from my own experience of using the centralised British UCAS system many years ago.
Now this podcast is coming out on the 4rth of July so if you are American what does the 4rth of July mean to you? And if you are outside the USA, do you celebrate anyway? Or does it feel odd when all around you just carry on as normal? Let us know as a comment to this blog post or as a comment on our Absolutely Intercultural Facebook page . In my next show I’ll be featuring someone who got in touch with us through our Facebook page. You’ll have to wait until September to find out more!
We have over 350 likes at the moment so why not help us reach our next milestone before the next show on August 1st and like us on Facebook? Right now the FIFA World Cup is going on so you’ll find a few related posts, such as how the Dutch airline, KLM got it so wrong on Twitter and why the Swiss team is such a contradiction.
The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on August 1st so until then, stay tuned!
If you like the podcast then please also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!
People say that gaining intercultural experiences improves your transferable skills, your ability to adapt to new situations. However, getting in touch with other cultures may also change your personal preferences, conventions and habits. Sometimes this process can even take place unconsciously but it still changes your way of thinking dramatically. So, should we start printing warnings on travel brochures? “Warning: This trip to France could seriously change your view of the world?”
And should we be worried about “passive traveling” – because it’s not just the person who went abroad who undergoes intercultural behavioral changes but also the people in the culture they visit who are influenced by the foreigner’s cultural behaviour.
Have you ever noticed serious changes in your own values and outlook on life after a longer stay abroad or even in your own culture by exposure to people from different cultures? Please don’t hesitate and share your experiences with us on our Facebook page.
absolutely up with people
There are a number of well-known non-profit organizations who manage social and intercultural projects all over the world. I was lucky enough to get in touch with representatives of Up with People. This organization combines education, international travel, leadership development, and art performances all with the aim to bring the world together through service learning and music. I asked Shamus and Brekken – who already took part in some of those organized, intercultural projects – to explain how it all works.
I asked Shamus to explain to us why their “up with people-project” in Mexico was a kind of challenge and how that project was well illustrated by a tree of hope.
Antao Moura from Brazil has also gained a great number of intercultural experiences during his life. Like Brekkan and Shamus he noticed that some of those experiences will change you and have a lasting impact your personal outlook on life. I asked Antao why, after so many travels to different parts of the world, he does not really feel typically Brazilian any longer.
However, sometimes, when your character or your behavior has changed after a longer stay abroad, in touch with several different cultures, you remember and appreciate the benefits of your original culture. Gia and Anh – both native Vietnamese, studying in Finland and spending their semester abroad at RheinAhrCampus in Germany, will tell us what exactly has caused intercultural change and why. In various situations they have adopted the role as an intercultural ambassador.
Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 4th of July.
If you like the podcast then please also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!
Our current exchange students from Vietnam and Lithuania are here in Germany studying and doing their internships. Within their first days after their arrival, they mentioned some cultural differences concerning the complexity and simplicity in their new lives and in their home countries. Cultural anthropologists have discovered and described differences in the level of cultural complexity in various parts of the world. But – as we know – the understanding of such a difficult and complicated phenomenon is not the same if you just read about it. Traveling around the world and getting in touch with many different cultures is probably the best way to understand how cultures – and especially cultural conventions – differ from country to country.
The grade of complexity of different cultures is difficult to measure – but perhaps quite easy to “feel out” when you are in that culture for the first time. Is it safe to assume that “older” cultures have developed more complexity? Is this a one-way street and do cultures become more and more complex over the centuries a little bit like our tax-law seems to be getting more and more complex because politicians discover loop-holes and try to add new rules to fix them?
Gia and Ahn, both native Vietnamese, studying in Finland and right now spending a semester abroad in Germany have had the opportunity to make a number of intercultural experiences. I asked them which intercultural differences they noticed first after their arrival to Europe – and if they maybe even have felt a “culture shock”.
I interviewed two students – Simas from Lithuania and Tatjana from Germany and we got talking about what it means to be hospitable to your guests. If you offer food and they say “No thank you”, would you ask them again in your culture?
We asked ourselves whether spending a long time in different countries – getting used to different cultural habits – may change your appreciation of your own native cultural conventions?
Gia and Anh have spent their holidays back home – in Vietnam – after spending a long time in Europe. I asked them if there was anything that made them feel uncomfortable in their “home-culture” – after such a long time of absence. Gia had a bit of a culture shock when her Mum and her friends gave her a lift on the scooter. All of a sudden the traffic in Ho-Chi-Minh City looked very frightening to her, too noisy and too crowded – in a word: too complex.
Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 2nd of May.
Happy New Year! So a new year traditionally means New Year resolutions and what could those be? Could they include improving your English? If so, have you ever wondered how difficult it is for course book writers to choose topics which will appeal to students all over the world? We’ll be hearing from Lindsay Clandfield, lead author of the Global series of coursebooks about some of those issues. Maybe your New year’s resolution is learning about one intercultural diagnosis tool such as the 4 Cs of culture? If so then you will want to hear Margarita Gokun Silver explain what they are. Or maybe you want to make a huge change in your life but don’t know where to start. One step in that direction may be to attend the free Living Your Ideal Global Lifesummit starting on January 13th. We’ll be hearing from Sabrina Ziegler, one of the organisers about some more of the interesting angles about living abroad and what is possible in this connected world.
absolutely global Have you ever wondered how your language course book gets written? In show 166 we heard about the topics that don’t make it into the course books, the so-called PARSNIP topics. But as I had Lindsay Clandfield, lead author of the new MacMillan Global series on the line, I took the opportunity to ask him how he decided what SHOULD go into his new coursebook. So let’s go absolutely global and start by asking why the world needed another coursebook for learning English!
Now I want to tell you about a new page on our website which is a 30 minute edited version of a workshop I did at the SIETAR Congress in Tallinn Estonia in September. The workshop was about podcasting for Intercultural trainers and we have released it as a special edition of the podcast on its own page. Thanks to Sigvor Bakke from Norway who did a magnificent job of recording on her mobile phone including a short snippet where we were looking at why you might want to podcast. The snippet included Matthew Hill from the UK. And if you want to hear the whole 30 minutes where I go into more detail about the whys and wherefores then catch it on its dedicated page.
absolutely coached In a globalised world it becomes even more important to understand intercultural dynamics within yourself and others. Margarita Gokun Silver told us about how accompanying spouses can be helped in Show 170. You may remember that Margarita is a trained coach so let’s ask if she has additional tools to help people deal with intercultural situations? Honouring your values is a key takeaway. Margarita’s website is at www.globalcoachcenter.com where you can find loads more information about the 4 Cs and intercultural coaching generally. I have added the book mentioned by Margarita to the Absolutely Intercultural Amazon store where you can find many other books relevant to intercultural communication. We receive a small amount of what you pay for every book which helps keep the site running. Browse our Amazon store here.
absolutely ideal And finally, I return to the unique idea of the Living Your Ideal Global Life Summit which is free and online for 5 days starting January 13th. In Show 172 one of the organisers, Sabrina Ziegler of Authentizen , told us about a couple of the speakers so let’s go absolutely ideal as I asked Sabrina about Terry Rogocki’s contribution. Do you have any ideas about how to live your ideal global life? Don’t forget that the summit is free.
Don’t forget we also have a Facebook Page where we recently got our 300th like! Welcome Hamdi Erestreams in Tunisia! Hope you are enjoying the page and the links we add there regularly.
The next show will be coming to you from Australia with Laurent Borgmann on February 7th so until then Happy New year!
In September I attended the SIETAR Congress in Tallinn Estonia where I met the two people who feature in this podcast. The music you hearat the beginning was being played by some street performers in Tallinn and Estonia is famous for the way in which it escaped the Soviet Union with its singing revolution. This involved thousands of people forming a line of over 600 kilometres while singing. So there was a lot of music in Tallinn and there is a bit more later.
SIETAR is the Society for Intercultural Education Training and Research and the Congress attracted many intercultural trainers and coaches who often work freelance. I was attending to talk about the results of the UniKey project which has just finished but I was also invited to do a workshop on how to podcast, as part of a pre-Congress set of workshops for freelancers. I promised those who attended that I would make a special edition of the podcast based on the How Tos we went through that day so watch out for that. It will be on a new page here when it’s ready.
absolutely global Sabrina Ziegler of Authentizen helped us freelancers in how to organise our digital media presence and is generally an advocate of a global lifestyle. What does that mean? Well Sabrina will help us find out by putting on a free online summit called Living Your Ideal Global Life in January 2014.
absolutely ethical One of the talks I attended at SIETAR was given by Iman Elshawaf talking about the unexpected difficulties she had when following the research protocols set down by her British university when she wanted to work with children in her school in Egypt. You have to get parental consent to work with the children and that means signing a form which can then be sent back to the university to document that everything was done ethically. So how easy was that?
Iman’s was just one of many fascinating sessions at the SIETAR Congress and we can’t possibly talk about them all. One thing I did enjoy very much was the graphics made by Raquel Benmergui of some of the sessions and I’ve used one of her visuals as the image for this show. Meanwhile on our Facebook Page we’re only a few short of 300 likes. Will you be number 300? In the last couple of weeks we’ve been featuring a great many links about stereotypes so if you want to know more about that topic then head on over to our Facebook page. And we’ll also be putting the podcast onto our YouTube channel.
We’ll be playing out with a short extract from the Estonian girls’ choir which entertained the Congress speakers in Tallinn Town Hall.
Welcome and shanah tovah. Why shanah tovah? Because that is the Hebrew New Year greeting and it was the Israeli new year the day before this podcast came out. I learned this from Marion Burgheimer, an Israeli cross cultural trainer I spoke with about the most popular links on our Absolutely Intercultural Facebook Page. She also told me that Shanah Tova is a wish for a good new year rather a happy new year, as a good year makes you happy. Welcome to Christian Garry Kansil who is the latest person to like our Facebook Page. I wonder if you’re finding the links we post there of interest Christian? In this show I talked to two cross cultural trainers to find out more about their work and how they got into it.
How do you become a cross cultural trainer? I’m sure that this isn’t something you told your careers adviser at school that you wanted to be when you grew up. So that was how I started my conversation with both of our guests in this show. First I asked Marion Burgheimer about how she came to be a crosscultural trainer.
Then I spoke to Marion about some of the links which have proved popular on our facebook page and what made them popular. If you know of any interesting links which we should share on our Facebook Page then leave us a comment there or use our blog or send us an email. Also use the blog to contact us if you know of someone we should be speaking to for a future podcast.
So now to our second cross cultural trainer, Margarita Gokun Silver, founder of the Global Coach Center; same questions, what’s your background and how come you became a cross cultural trainer and we’ll see that Margarita’s strength lies in helping the spouses of people who get stationed abroad and who are absolutely lost in some cases. Here are some of the things they say:
You can find more Global Coach Centre videos on their YouTube channel. In fact I spoke at greater length to Margarita and I hope that I can bring you a bit more of that conversation in later shows. But in the mean time search this post for all the links we talked about and the videos that Margarita has produced, visit us on Facebook Page or see the show on our YouTube channel. Our next show will be coming to you from Dr. Laurent Borgmann on October 4th so stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox
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The sound we started with was an instrument made by Thomas Kubayi who sculpts, drums and plays music and who gave my daughter a sculpting lesson when my family stayed in the Limpopo region of South Africa last year. It just so happens that I am working with a South African partner in a European project, the Uni-Key project, so I was very excited to meet Marié-Tinka Uys on her home turf when she showed me round some of the many projects which abound in her region of South Africa which is centred on Hoedspruit just outside the famous Kruger National Gamepark. The UniKey project is about supporting university interns who choose to do their internship in small enterprises rather than the large well-known companies. This means that the interns have a better chance of working with the founder of the company and get a better feel for the entrepreneurial skills needed to run a company. Europe is starting to send interns outside the EU, for example to South Africa, and there are plans for promoting exchanges in the other direction too with South Africans able to do internships in Europe. The UniKey project has developed an online course for the interns to follow and what we needed from our South African partners was some feel for how well our online course would travel outside of Europe. For example when we talk about marketing and partnerships in the UniKey course, is our definition wide enough to encompass the African way of doing things? What about our definition of business even? Marcelle Bosch, a Dutch woman and former aid worker, has her sustainable tourism lodge business, Madi A Thavha where we stayed a few days. Can you make a living employing the former farm workers that gained their livelihood from the land that you just bought? I also spoke to Costas who works for a clinic supported by the farms, which in South Africa, are huge concerns employing thousands of workers who often live on site. This is very different to farming in Europe which is highly mechanized with very few employees. And while we in Europe depend on a universal health service paid for through taxation, South Africa is facing the HIV and Aids epidemic which affects mainly adults in their prime, so health projects are often centred around the workplace as in the case of the Bavaria farm I visited near Hoedspruit where the clinic is financed partly by the employers and partly by community efforts. We’ll also be hearing a new perspective on how to improve the status of women and how European experts can’t always cope with the differences they meet in the African context. Welcome to Melina, Akos and Omar who are the latest people to like our Facebook page.
So let’s start at Madi a Thavhi by seeing how we can be absolutely sustainable in the Limpopo region of South Africa on a former farm near Louis Trichardt or Makhado as the town is also known. And by the way, why towns have two names in South Africa is a whole other story which we could discuss on the Absolutely Intercultural Facebook page if you want to know more.
So that was an example of how to look after your employees in a small scale business and now you can hear the sound of my daughter having a go at sculpting wood with renowned local artist, Thomas Kubayi. While I was in South Africa I had the chance to discover that there is a wide range of community organisations working hard with the big employers to provide all sorts of health, education and other benefits for their employees. So this means that instead of local government or public sector provision, there is a much more local and volunteer based-coverage in South Africa. In the Hoedspruit area the two businesses I heard most about were the game lodges and the farms. So my next visit was to a clinic based on a fruit farm which treats mainly HIV and AIDs patients through the Hlokomela project. In speaking with Costas I learned that when you are HIV positive, a key indicator you need to look at are your CD4 levels and I also learned that, at least on this farm, the disease can be managed so that there are reasons to be absolutely positive!
As I was driven around the projects by Marié-Tinka Uys my eye was drawn to a set of murals painted on the wall of the Bavaria farm showing desirable male behavior such as not drinking and not using physical violence against your wife. When I asked Marié-Tinka about these she gave me a surprising solution about how to affect gender roles.
Marié-Tinka also talked about another part of the Hlokomela project which is an organic herb garden which has been started to supply the many game lodges in the Hoedspruit area. As we were talking she mentioned why interns should come alone and gave one example where the foreign expertise just could not cope with the differences experienced in South Africa.
Thanks to everyone who was willing to speak to me in South Africa and especially to Marié-Tinka Uys who introduced me to the wealth of activity going on in her area. She literally opened doors and gave me a peek into so much, which, as a tourist I would never have experienced. Thanks also to the UniKey project for giving me the opportunity to wonder about how people do business in other parts of the world. Who knows? This might even be the start of your own African internship adventure?
And if you want even more background as to broader issues behind what people were telling me about in this podcast then you might consider visiting the Absolutely Intercultural Amazon store here where we have both classics, basics and specifics for sale, a small proportion of which goes to us to support the costs of maintaining this podcast. You don’t pay any more to buy them through our store and every purchase contributes a little to the running costs of the podcast so if you’re thinking of buying, consider using our new store. There is a permanent link at the top of this blog page.