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!
In this show we re-vsisit the chat I had with George Simons in show 138. George you may remember is the creator of the Diversophy intercultural games. We also talked about other intercultural games and when I mentioned Barnga, which we described way back in show 43, he told me about another very effective intercultural game. You could tell this was a good one because it made people absolutely angry!
It’s not just anger which is a symptom of your being out of your comfort zone. I was surprised when Janice Ford, an Australian talked about this feeling of being absolutely distant. Janice Ford took a course with me at The Consultants-E where I help teachers intgerate ICT into their language teaching and is just one of the many interesting people I meet there from all over the world.
You’ve probably heard about Bollywood, the Indian film industry, and how it rivals Hollywood in scope and numbers of films produced so now we’re going to hear from Rebecca Chadwick, who’s just finished high school and is so mad about Indian film that she signed up to a years course at the Asian Academy of Film and TV in New Delhi and simply flew straight into her course at the beginning of July having never travelled further than Europe before. If you watch satellite TV you’ll probably understand why I’m calling this strand absolutely incredible when I contacted Rebecca shortly after her arrival to hear about her first impressions.
Now perhaps Rebecca might have benefited from being a member of Internations, a website designed to help expatriates all over the world cope with being stationed far away from home. My final guest on the show today is Malte Zeeck, co founder of Internations and my first question was about why such a website is needed. If you like the sound of internations and would like to join, then get in touch with me through this blog as I have some invitations available. Perhaps you were inspired by our last show to organise a foreign internship or semester exchange? You can also test your English by trying a short dictation taken from this interview here.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
I’ll stop right there because it’s our attitude to school which is going to be the main topic of of the show today. And if you want to know the rest then you’ll have to revisit ‘As you like it’.
In the last show we explored some of the many cultural aspects of learning apparent in one educational institution and in this show we’re going to stick with the idea of learning culture but this time on a world wide basis.
I mentioned the 2 Million Minutes project very briefly in the show on China and the Olympics but I was so intrigued by the project that I got in touch with Bob Compton, the man behind the project, so that I could find out more.
absolutely educated: What do you want to be when you grow up? According to Bob Compton the answer you give to this question when you are six or seven years old says a great deal about how successful your country is going to be economically in the future. Be honest now! What would your answer have been at that age?
Bob Compton is worried about the economic consequences of the American education system but sees the problem as arising from different cultural attitudes to learning and teachers. He decided to raise awareness about the competition from India and China by making a film following the lives of 6 high school students from the 3 different countries. The project is called 2 million minutes and I asked Bob to tell us more….
absolutely rotary: Bob kept asking me about how things were in Europe generally and Denmark in particular but having never experienced anything other than the European education system it was difficult for me to say. When I heard that one of my colleagues was hosting an American student, Brittany Alcorn, through the Rotary Youth Exchange programme I jumped at the chance for a chat with her. It seems that the Danish situation is probably closer to the American model than the Indian and Chinese models.
absolutely concerned: Back with Bob Compton I asked him to explain the title of the project and then wanted to know more about some of the main observations made in the film. He picked out the differing parental aspirations as a key difference.
absolutely musical: Ah but, say the objectors, it’s not healthy to study all the time, what about creativity? A running theme through the project seems to be the musical prowess of the Chinese on all sorts of instruments. Even the translator could play something on the accordion!
absolutely prepared: So having seen the situation in India and China did this have any effect on Bob Compton’s family at an individual level? I asked him in particular about his daughters’ education and discovered that the family had made radical changes.
‘In America you have tutors when your children are failing but in India and China you have tutors when your children are doing well so that they can do even better.”
‘In India your college application is your name and your test score. Nothing else!’
I was interested in this project for what it told me about cultural differences in the attitude to education but there have also been some very strong negative reactions to this project because it tends to view education in purely utilitarian terms. Where do you stand on this? Let us know here on the blog. What is the learning culture in your country? Is it closer to the Indian and Chinese models or closer to the American model? You will find lots more information about the 2 Million minutes project at their website where you can even take an Indian maths test and you will find many film snippets about the back story behind the project on their dedicated channel at YouTube.
By the way, I would like to do a show exploring some of the new social networking language learning websites which have sprung up in the last year or so. So if you have any experience as a user of sites such as Live Mocha,Palabea, Mango Languages or Babbel then get in touch because I would like to know if they really work.
Working in Japan – Haiti and the Dominican Republic – Hofstede in action
Yogesh Bang, an Indian software engineer, has worked on assignment in Japan several times. His advice to anybody thinking of working in Japan is to be prepared to lose out on sleep. He also noticed the effect of concensus decision-making, hierarchy and the status of women employees during his time there.
Absolutely Educational I
We have another report from Chris Saenger of the Intercultural Management Institute of Washington on their annual conference last March called ‘Does Culture Still Matter?’ This time he talks about their second keynote speaker Laurence Harrison who is not afraid to make controversial propositions as to why for example Haiti and the Dominican Republic perform so differently economically even though they share the same island.
Absolutely Educational II
Speaking from Iceland, David Stroud, a senior British civil servant, talks about why the Hofstede model is so useful in international negotiations.
The next show will be coming from Germany on May 18.
You will hear about The BOBs, the GO OUT campaign and what British schools and the army have in common.
Absolutely Fantastic: The support you gave us for The BOBs was absolutely fantastic and thank you to everybody who voted, commented and listened. We came third in the user prize category and that is solely down to your votes. Add your comments here or send us a mail or audio message to let us know how we can be number one next year.
Absolutely Personal: The show concentrates on two individuals who both went to work for a period in the UK.
First we hear from Dane, Tommy Søholm, who went for three years working for NATO in the UK. Life was not as regimented as you might think for Tommy the soldier, but on the other hand even his youngest child was drafted into the disciplined ranks of the British schooling system much to everybody’s surprise in the family.
Then we hear from Yogesh Bang, a software engineer based in India who has been posted abroad for short periods on assignment several times now. Hear what he has to say about the work life balance and the concern shown to him by his landlady in the UK as he went off for a weekend in Chester.
The next show will be coming to you from Germany on the 1st of December.
Until then…stay tuned!
The Host of this show is: Anne Fox