absolutely intercultural 61 +++ stereotypes +++ prejudice +++ regional diversities +++ pre-fabricated phrases +++ national pride +++

\“Germans are all punctual but don’t have a sense of humor, people from Great Britain do and always have their tea at 5 pm in the afternoon, Italian men pick up girls all the time, the French eat baguette, cheese and frogs’ legs. Women can’t drive cars and men simply cannot listen, young people are irresponsible because they get drunk all the time and old people are terribly inflexible.” You could easily continue this list about any nationality, age, gender, political or sexual orientation. Stereotypes are pre-fabricated phrases to generalize about certain groups of people. But how are they generated? Do they have any practical use in daily life or are they just wrong and useless? Are their fixed for all time once they have been established or can they change over time? In this show, we try to find some answers to these questions about stereotypes.

absolutely Spanish:
Emma Cuevas-Saunders, who is an ERASMUS student from Spain, has been studying and doing a practical training in Germany for about a year now. She tells us about her experiences with stereotypes in Spain and how prejudices about Germans almost prevented her from going abroad. We also learn that Spain, known as a nation marked by national pride, actually is divided into many different sub-groups, which each have stereotypes about the other groups. However, as Emma says, this is a rather positive aspect, because it demonstrates Spanish diversity and these stereotypes are also used as a conversation starter. But first, she tells us, that all Spaniards have discovered a new pastime: They like to sit on the beach and guess the nationality of the tourists, but perhaps this is also a stereotype?

absolutely Mexican-American:
In our second category we talk with Susana, who has her roots in Mexico, lives in the United States and currently is studying in Germany for one year. Although she is probably the expert on this topic, we thought she tends to underestimate the popularity of her two “home countries”, thinking that they are not very much liked in the world. We learn that stereotypes really can change over time, if people like Susana have the courage to go abroad, make their own experiences and afterwards, tell people about it.

absolutely Austrian:
We speak to Dr. Nicole Slupetzky from “Volkshochschule Salzburg” (institute of adult education) about the challenges connected with harmful stereotypes and the opportunities of friendly ones. While friendly stereotypes can provide you with conversation topics and sometimes make these conversations run more smoothly, harmful stereotypes can be responsible for hate and racism. Nicole emphasizes that it is important to talk about these stereotypes, to learn about the affected groups and sometimes even to laugh about these statements together. We discuss that, of course, we shouldn’t believe every stereotype we hear, because they can be produced in many different ways, by the media, the family or even education.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

The next show will be coming to you on 25 July from Anne Fox in Denmark.

 

absolutely intercultural 59 +++ different working styles +++ philosophical talking +++ striking students +++ international teamwork +++

Politically the different member states of the European Union have already achieved surprising synchronisations which would have seemed unthinkable 20 years ago. Culturally, however, most countries try to keep their own identity within the Union. Imagine you leave Germany and go South to Slovenia, Portugal, or Greece. In every single nation you can experience different cultural habits and, as a consequence, different working and life styles. Apart from reporting about how we had a Royal Visitor from Ghana (see on the left) in our classroom , in this show we mainly hear about some differences between the South of Europe and the North. How do the various cultural differences influence our working styles in joint projects or when students are studying in another one of these European countries?

absolutely philosophical?
In show 57 we talked about how teamwork in internationally mixed groups is influenced by different cultural habits. In this show, we put the emphasis on how the work itself can be different and we hear, that often for people from Southern Europe the result is not the most important concern, but that the way how the result should be achieved needs more attention and discussion. Sometimes, in the eyes of the Northerners this can lead to seemingly endless “philosophical” discussions with uncertain outcome. For Germans, this often seems as if “they just like to talk and talk a lot”, because the function (e.g. trust-building) of this kind of communication is not so obvious. However, our interviewees also recognize, that all different ways are “kind of right” and that you just have to learn how to handle different styles so that in the end you can work successfully in all international environments.

absolutely quiet:
Petros is an exchange student from Greece, the country of the ancient philosophers. He is now in Germany for his semester abroad and you could get the impression that he somehow enjoyed that there was not so much talking in public places and generally more discipline. Leaving the strike-ridden university system in Greece he stresses that he likes that German students are very quiet in the library and also very reliable when it comes to group work or presentations. It seems that Petros can confirm most of the stereotypes people around the world have about the Germans, that most of them are disciplined, reliable and punctual. He also tells us that he first had problems with “proxemics”, the attitude to personal space, distance and touching each other during a conversation, but that he learned a lot for his future in international work places.

absolutely royal:
We speak to Georg Reifferscheid, a student at RheinAhrCampus, who recently made a real king from Africa visit our campus and hold a panel discussion with students about development aid. Herr Meickl is an architect from Germany, who was made king by a Ghanaian village, because he had invested so much of his time and energy in his development projects there. Mr. Meickl showed the students the difference between development and financial aid and also presented a video of his “crowning ceremony” in Ghana. Georg shares his initial worries and experiences with us telling us how this unique opportunity came up and what he learned on the event management side.

absolutely improved:
In our last category we talk to Maria Koenen, teaching assistant on a Business English course, about various opportunities to improve your language skills. She tries to motivate her students not only to learn during the course, but to combine your hobbies with learning English at home or even on your way to work or to university. The result is, that all students now try out different things to improve their English outside the classroom

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

The next show will be coming to you on 27 June from Anne Fox in Denmark.

absolutely intercultural 57 +++ teaching culture +++ international teamwork +++ intercultural seminars +++

Working in internationally mixed groups can offer a number of unexpected benefits, but also tremendous intercultural challenges. In this show we concentrate on how you can prepare yourself or other people to master these challenges.

Teaching Culture Logo

Working in internationally mixed groups can offer a number of unexpected benefits, but also tremendous intercultural challenges. In this show we concentrate on how you can prepare yourself or other people to master these challenges. 

absolutely un-teachable?:
Thomas, an international project manager from Slovakia talks with Nicole who worked for the European project “Teaching-Culture”. In this project Alexandra Haas from VHS Rhein-Sieg together with 13 European partners developed a training course for intercultural awareness aimed at teachers of adult education in Europe. Nicole, one of the developers from Austria, tells us about her experiences in international teamwork situations. Even the culturally-determined differences of the daily agenda for meetings (e.g. meal times) turned into one of many challenges the international group had to master, because cultural differences influence teamwork and sometimes even the team spirit. We often think we are aware of these challenges, but in fact in international teamwork they often get in our way. However, the question remains whether culture can really be taught or can we only learn by experience?

absolutely essential:
Keith Warburton from Global Business Culture helps clients from all over the world to develop levels of cultural awareness and understanding so that they can operate more effectively and profitably within the global market place. He can look back on a very long international career, working in several countries for over 18 years. He remembers the mistakes companies made when they started to work globally and explains  how difficult it still is to convince a complete company to participate at intercultural training seminars. Today, everybody in a company, from the most senior top manager to the junior part-time admin staff is supposed to communicate effectively with clients and suppliers from other cultures. As Keith says, a company is only as strong as its weakest link so intercultural awareness training is essential at all levels of the company.

absolutely explorative:
We wanted to know how experienced intercultural trainers attempt to teach culture. Do they use facts and figures and simply imform the participants about the different customs and habits of other cultures, such as how to present your business card in the Asian context? Or do they go outside the company with a whole group and make them explore the differences in case studies and simulations? We asked a group of intercultural trainers what the perfect intercultural training seminar would look like, how the learning group should be motivated and which exercises they would propose.

The next show will be coming to you on 30 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

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absolutely intercultural 55 +++ encouraging “benign whacky individualism” +++ European women in Arabic countries +++ Insha’Allah +++ learning Arabic +++

Women smoking Shisha in a back room of a cafe in Cairoabsolutely individualistic:
We talk to Jennifer, an American professor for Eastern European Politics at a liberal arts college in Beirut, Lebanon. She tries to encourage her students to develop a more critical and individualistic attitude, which she has missed personally since she left the US. She wants her Lebanese students, but in fact students all around the world, to be at least a little bit more revolutionary, to question the status quo and to express their personality with a “benign whacky individualism”.

absolutely female:
For women travellers to some Arabic countries often the most normal things can turn into an exciting cultural adventure. Emma travelled to Syria and Jordan with her sisters and shares with us some everyday occurrences for European women travelling in some Arabic countries. We are able to relive her anxieties at the check-in at the airport when she gets separated from her sisters, her problems getting served in a restaurant and even a confrontation with some seven years old kids with machine guns, apparently serving some kind of military service.

absolutely timeless:
We learn from Maris, who went from Latvia to Egypt why time is less important in Egypt sometimes. He tells us, that every time you hear the very common expression “Insha’Allah” in an Arabic country you should try to remain as relaxed as the Arabs. This frequently-used expression means that everything will happen as and when Allah wants it to happen, and is a good explanation when a train or a bus come late and you will soon recognize, that life can be easier if you just accept this fact.

absolutely basic:
Cultural misunderstandings often arise from language barriers and a lack of cultural interests. Beatrice explains to us how you can make your journey to an Arabic country a lot more enjoyable if you learn only a few phrases of the Arabic language. You will not only open a lot of doors to the warm and friendly Arabic hosts, but you will also defuse culturally-based stress situations. Showing interest in the foreign culture will distinguish you from the ordinary tourists and people will start to invite you to their homes.

absolutely champion:
Absolutely Intercultural has been nominated for a Danish podcasting award because every other AI show is produced in Denmark. If we are to have a chance of winning then we need more nominations before we get to the voting stage! So if you like what you hear then send a mail to nominering@podcasterprisen.dk with the following details:
Name of the podcaster(s): Anne Fox

RSS feed of the podcast (if you know it): http://feeds.feedburner.com/absolutely-intercultural

URL of the podcast: http://www.absolutely-intercultural.com

Nominator’s name and email address (to take part in a prize draw of nominators)

Reason for nomination: optional but you can explain why the podcaster deserves the nomination
Deadline for this first round is May 12th. If your Danish is good you can read more at http://www.podcasterprisen.dk/

The next show will be coming to you on 2 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

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absolutely intercultural 53 +++ Borrowed Identities Part II +++ Image Projection +++ Scholarship Selections +++

borrowed identities logoabsolutely student-centred
Picking up the subject of our last podcast, today we try to look at another aspect of the same Intensive Programme “Borrowed Identities” which took place in Achill Island, Ireland and brought together 40 learners from all over Europe. We asked two of the students about how the international mix in their cottages and workshops contributed to their intercultural learning. Assja Tietz from Germany and Emma Cuevas from Spain share their experiences about international leadership and teamwork in a community project in internationally mixed teams under time-pressure and in an foreign environment and tell us what they took home from Achill Island for their professional and personal future.

absolutely changeable
Maria Koehnen recently returned home from her second stay abroad this time studying at Lessius Hogeschool in Antwerp, Belgium, and tells us that a semester abroad is not only about learning a new language, but above all about making personal experiences which can change your whole life. We learn how her fellow students benefitted from the opportunity to try out a completely new life style during a semester abroad and how important it is to learn the lesser learned languages such as Dutch.

absolutely successful
Going abroad, whether as a student or as an intern, requires a lot of preparation and both, independent work and professional help. Barbara Neukirchen, an expert in coaching students with their scholarship applications or their semester abroad tells us how the university can help a student to find the right scholarship and what a perfect application should contain. She stresses that the overall picture that the student projects is often more important than just a list of good academic achievements.

absolutely contageous
When you go abroad personal support from your friends, your family or your partner is propably as important as professional advice about scholarships, learning agreements, or visa regulations. We hear from Peter Kron how he helped his girlfriend with her preparations for a semester abroad in China and how this process influenced his own educational future. He seems to have been infected by the “virus” and is now planning his own stay at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas

absolutely linguistic
In her new and hopefully regular column, Maria Koenen explains, how a simple litte booklet and a pen in your pocket can be a real help when you are in a foreign country and try to improve your language skills.

The next show will be coming to you on the 4 April from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

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absolutely intercultural 51 +++ Texas Part II +++ Friesenhaus +++ emigrating to Germany +++

Texan Cowboy Hats in Austin

With a number of intercultural stories and some music left from my Christmas trip to New Braunfels, Texas I somehow felt forced to produce a second show about the German Belt in Texas. The emphasis is on the reasons why Germans have emigrated to Texas and the reputation of Germans in the USA.

absolutely unlimited
People did not only emigrate in the 19th century as in our example in show 49, but also today many leave their homes and friends in the hope of better opportunities in the United States. Günther and Cornelia Dirks tell us how they went to Texas to put into practice their dream of opening a German restaurant called “The Friesenhaus” and why their philosophy of “Just do whatever you Dreams are” did not work for them back in Germany.

absolutely claustrophobic
Leaving Berlin during the Cold War, Klaus joined first the Canadian, later on the American Army to feel the freedom to move around. His wife Edith, still cooking and speaking German better than English just felt that Berlin with the wall around it was too claustrophobic, or “eng” as she likes to say.

absolutely unpronounceable
Laurent tells us how words like “Schleswig-Holstein-Schnitzel”, “Oma’s Haus”, or “Schlitterbahn” belong to the daily vobabulary of Texans and asks the owners of the restaurant if the Americans really like the Germans so much, that they use German stereotypes for their business.

absolutely un-German
Finally, there are, of course, also people who immigrate to Germany because they searched for a new challenge or just liked the idea of living there. Our studio guest Jean Lennox came to Germany in the 70ies and developed what she calls “a-long-time-love-and-hate-relationship”, staying somehow British, but also absorbing some of the best German characteristics. Will she go back when she retires?

The next show will be coming to you on 7 March from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

Host of this show: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron

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absolutely intercultural 49 +++ Texas is a state of mind +++ American-German genealogy +++ travelling with Servas +++


rows and rows of Cowboy boots int a shop in Austin, Texasabsolutely Texas
Gosh – the internet seems to put not just the world, but also our family history, at our finger tips. I noticed this on my last trip to Texas. People from all over the world do research in the Sophienburg Museum and Archives to find their ancestors. A family of three generations in 2008 find their roots in New Braunfels. Volunteer organisations help us to travel the world with a “very restricted budget”.

absolutely unbelievable
Laurent tells us about an unbelievable coincidence he witnessed during his stay in Texas. An American family of three generations makes a trip to an immigration museum in New Braunfels between Austin and St. Antonio to do some research with the help of an old photograph which shows their family house. To everybody’s astonishment this turns out to be the very house the director of the museum lives in. All this unfolds while the microphone is running …

absolutely Texan-German
Linda Dietert, a true “Texan-German” tells us about the history of the Texas settlers in the 1850s. Their descendants, some of whom still speak some German after all these generations, are often happy to talk about their background in the “old world” and keep up some of the old traditions such as sausage-making . But of course a Texan “Bratwurst” does not have the same taste as its German relatives – and why should it?

absolutely hospitable
Agnes tells us about the “Hospitality Club” where you can find places to stay for your next journey if you cannot afford to pay for accommodation on your travels. Adelheid Korpp provides detailed information about “Servas” a non-profit organization which also puts you in contact with hosts around the world and she shares her experiences with us. We hear about hosts who give out their keys to guests whom they have never seen before or offer their own cars instead of telling you where to rent one. This Servas-spirit of sharing is meant to “foster new insight, knowledge and tolerance of others”.

The next show will be coming to you on 8 February from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The hosts of this show are: Dr. Laurent Borgmann and Agnes Dus
Editor: Mathias Knops

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absolutely intercultural 47 +++ New Year‘s Eve +++ New Year‘s resolutions +++ NYE in Denmark +++ Dinner For One +++


Fireworks over Cologne
This show will be dealing with all kinds of New Year’s Celebrations, rituals and traditions in Denmark, France, and Germany.
absolutely repetitive
Here you can learn from Beatrice which experiences she made with New Year’s resolutions and her list which she unfortunately has not put into practice yet. She also introduces us to the ritual of melting metals as a way to forecast the New Year.



absolutely French
In France – the land of fabulous meals and the home of „haute cuisine“ food is one of the main aspects of a special occasion like NYE. Michael tells us that he spends this night with his friends after having dinner with his family.

absolutely mad
Anne talks about forgetting all good behavior on that night as a ritual in Denmark. In some cases it is even necessary to take all the goods out of the shop windows to make sure nothing will be damaged. We learn everything about playing tricks and blowing up postboxes as well as the personal resolution to teach her daughters French. She also talks about the new experience of fireworks which she didn’t know from her time in Britain.

absolutely non-British
Andreas tells us about another German NYE-tradition: It is very common, to have „Dinner for One“ in that particular night. It looks like a British TV-show – but it is in fact a German comedy-sketch about an old lady celebrating her 90th Birthday and her butler James who is doing his best to make her feel comfortable. Andreas, like Anne did earlier, talks about the private fireworks which are very common in Germany.

The team of absolutely intercultural wishes all of you a Happy New Year!

The next show will be coming to you on 11 January from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Mathias Knops

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absolutely intercultural 45 +++ music as a universal language +++ international festivals +++ Colors of Cologne +++ music as the ultimate way of expressing feelings +++ music as a tool for integration +++

In this show you will hear about situations in which music played an important role connecting people from different cultures, to overcome language barriers or to express feelings for which words would not be adequate.

absolutely universal
Anne Fox our co-host from Denmark, tells us why music is often so helpful when other languages fail. Music is often seen as a universal language, however, in her experience this is not always the case…

absolutely international
In the second part of the show we will look into International Festivals which have become more and more popular over the last years. During those festivals tens or hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world sing, dance and live together internationally for a few days. The Sziget Festival in Hungary is a special one, because it is held on an island in Budapest, so the “absolutely international islanders” literally live in the heart of the capital city. Michael Darde, a French student, tells us how he saw it as a tourist and Agnes Dús from Hungary shares her experiences about taking part as a local.

absolutely colorful
In Cologne on the Rhine foreigners from 20 different countries have been singing together in a choir, called “Colors of Cologne”, for the last eight years. Most of the participants report that they joined the choir in order to integrate better in their new environment and to make friends faster. We will also listen to their music!

absolutely spontaneous
Sarah is a student for whom music has a special importance in her life: she plays the piano and writes her own songs. Music helped her make friends more easily, especially during her stay in the US, and also it is the best way for her to express her feelings.

absolutely together
In the last part of the show Emma Cuevas Saunders, a Spanish student, tells us about how singing helped her integrate into the group in a school summer camp in England. She experienced that when words are not enough music comes in and becomes an alternative kind of language.

Our co-host today is Agnes Dús from Budapest in Hungary, student of the Corvinus University of Budapest.

The next show will be coming to you on the 14 December from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Co-host: Agnes Dús
Editor: Mathias Knops

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absolutely intercultural 43 +++ Flying a plane is all about communication +++ intercultural card game BARNGA +++ Myers-Briggs-Test

Laurent as the BARNGA facilitator
In this show we will point you to two very different ways of becoming more aware of your personality and what your spontaneous reactions are when getting in touch with people whose cultural rules are different.

“absolutely up in the air”
Our first guest is Simon Brown, a former airline captain with British airways, who tells us how the Myers-Briggs personality test, which was used to make pilots more aware of their different personality styles, opened his eyes.

“absolutely simulated”
BARNGA is a card game, which simulates the experience of meeting people from other cultures and working with them. It was played a group of 25 students from several different countries at the University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz, RheinAhrCampus. During the game the students sit at five different tables which are separated from each other. They play a card game with the rules they received on a written sheet at the beginning. When the actual game starts no more verbal communication is allowed. The students have to find alternative ways of communication if they want to play together, such as gestures, facial expression or drawing pictures…

“absolutely confusing”
We will look at what happens when you go through the intercultural simulation in practice. Some students seem to be pretty sure that they play according to the “only valid” rules, while others seem to be a little confused…

“absolutely eye-opening”
In the last part of our show we will return to the airport in Bangkok to Simon and the Myers-Briggs Personality Test in British Airways. Laurent asks Simon whether the test itself and the feed-back he received from his colleagues in the famous envelope had been useful for him. Had it changed his view about himself?

Our co-host today is Agnes Dús from Budapest in Hungary, student of the Corvinus University of Budapest. You may remember her from the interviews she made in Ireland for show number 25. She will co-host the shows from Remagen until Christmas.

The next show will be coming to you on the 16 November from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

Host of this show: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Co-host: Agnes Dús
Editor: Mathias Knops
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