If you have ever wondered about the journeys of those thousands of refugees from Syria then you will want to hear Radwan Abdullah’s story of how he got to Denmark with his cousin and disabled daughter. We will also be hearing from Julie Lindsay about her new book on how to become a Global Educator.
What else? Well we’ve been nominated in the Podcast Awards and are waiting to hear if we will get in the final selection on May 22nd. If we do, we will let you know and ask for your vote. So keep an eye on our Facebook page and here on our webiste.
So it is time for those New year resolutions which we don’t tend to stick to. Maybe we have too many? Maybe we don’t share them with anyone so that makes them easier to break? In this show I am going to be exploring just one idea. Maybe, just maybe, if we stick to one idea then we have a better chance of succeeding. And that one idea is about being a good neighbour. How about it? Worth a try?
In today’s podcast we discuss aspects of the German culture, involvement of refugees in everyday university life and integration of international students at Brock University. We talk to Sheila Young from Brock University, Canada who was visiting Germany for the first time in her life when we met her at RheinAhrCampus. She told us about how she prepared her visit to Germany from a cultural point of view. We will also hear about the experiences of three students, who took part in the Managing Cultural Diversity seminar. They will explain how refugees were involved in this project and how they benefitted from this experience. Continue reading Absolutely Intercultural 197 +++ Cultural Diversity +++ Serious +++ Refugees +++
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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.
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Did you know that if you are a student in a European University you are able to take part in an intensive seminar with students and lecturers from all over the EU? We’ll be hearing from some students who took part in one such seminar in Lithuania earlier this year. Did you follow Karsten Kneese on Twitter last month? Karsten took over the ’I am Germany’ Twitter account for a week early in October. One thing I learnt about during that week was the German work canteens which are open to the public. So what do you think of this as a way of representing a country? You can add your comments to our blog here or on our Facebook page. Thank you An, Vian, Sammy, Katherine and Roman who are the latest to have liked us there.
So in May, 35 students and lecturers from all over Europe gathered together in Lithuania to work together for two weeks on an intensive seminar about entrepreneurship called RECEIVE. The topics explored included marketing, intercultural differences, digital communication, coaching and critical thinking. Critical thinking not only has an application to entrepreneurs but is also an important skill for students who have been taught in quite a different way across the world.
I talked first to Serge Koukpaki from Edinburgh University, which attracts many international students each year, about why he teaches a course on critical thinking and the effect on his foreign students. Then I talked to three of the students Serge brought with him to participate in the RECEIVE project who came from China, Thailand and Tanzania to find out what they thought of bringing a diverse group together to create joint products. Guangqian Li from China spoke about his experience of working in a multinational group. I was certainly surprised to learn that this intensive seminar in Lithuania was Li’s first experience of a truly multicultural educational setting. Didn’t he have that in Edinburgh I wondered? Next I spoke to Duanjam Surbpong or Mo for short from Thailand about the benefits of the Intensive programme; extending your network is certainly a useful entrepreneurial skill. My final interview was with Hassan Iddy, a teacher trainer from Tanzania who found that the communal living aspect of the project reminded him of life in Tanzania much more than in Edinburgh where he is currently studying for his Masters.
absolutely challenging So far we’ve heard a lot of good things about the Receive project but there were also a few challenges. For example the group visited holocaust memorial museums while in Lithuania which lead to a discussion on genocide and the question about whether China’s one child policy could also be classed as genocide. For Li, whom we heard from earlier, this was a problem as he explains. And that wasn’t the only challenge. In my own workshop where we were constructing the project website, we suddenly noticed after about four days of work that all the personal photos on the website were of males. This was quite a shocking realization which lead us to review all the photos on the website as well as discussing how this could have happened. In fact it wasn’t just about photos. You may have noticed that all my interviewees in this pod cast were also male. So lots of food for thought.
If you are interested in following up the cross-border entrepreneurial theme you can join me in the free online Global Education conference on Monday 12 th November at 18:00 GMT when I’ll be showing a way of helping interns make more of their foreign posting through online skills training. All details and links will also be on our Facebook page.
And finally don’t forget that if you are interested in following up any aspect of intercultural communication we have put together a collection of books, old and new, theory and practical in the Absolutely Intercultural Amazon book store. You don’t pay any extra but we get a small contribution to help continue pay the expenses of this podcast. Now that the northern nights are drawing in, a book may be just what you need here! 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.
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 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
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.