absolutely intercultural 111 +++ Football World Cup +++ Theater der Welt +++ stereotypes +++

Theater der Welt
Theater der Welt - first production 30 June

Today, Friday 11 June 2010, the world’s eyes are on the start of the Football World Cup in South Africa, in which people from so many different nations will meet each other and confront different cultures. Listeners across the world, please keep your fingers crossed that this World Cup in Africa will become a memorable intercultural event!
I must admit – I am not even a football fan, and certainly no specialist, but I thought I have to make an effort and speak about football today, about stereotypes, about cultural misunderstandings and linguistic challenges connected with big international events – not just football but also cultural events. I talked with people from Belgium, England and Spain, to see what kinds of experiences they have made in intercultural communication.

absolutely confused
As you all know, today the Football world cup in South Africa starts and I’m sure that most of you can’t wait to see your favorite team win. Have you noticed that while we think of these international events are great intercultural meeting places, international football matches often give rise to a lot of terrible stereotypes? These are moments when fans dig deep and sometimes come up with very unpleasant clichés. English tabloids sometimes use war metaphors to describe the German teams in a contest. I called Jean, a friend of mine who moved from Manchester to Bonn years ago. In our first category she tells us how those terrible old stereotypes always come up again when there is an international football event.

absolutely ambiguous
Now, two days ago, I was very lucky and was able to get a personal interview with an incredibly interesting person. Frie Leysen is the Programme Director of the “Theatre of the World” Event and came to Cologne to share her vision of this great international event of performing arts with us. While many of us interested in intercultural communication try to reduce ambiguity by finding cultural explanations for differences and theories for coping with unwanted loss of orientation, Frie does the opposite. She invites more than 30 of the most interesting theatre productions to one location in order to force the audience to embrace ambiguity and misunderstandings.

absolutely perplexed
Some time ago I met Marlen from Spain who had spent some time in Germany and she shared with us the cultural differences which exist between Spain and Germany. In our next category we’ll hear what experiences Marlen made with German men in the streets and how she learned to handle them.

absolutely proud
Now let us come back to Jean, with whom I continued the football conversation about the psychological problems Germans used to have with their national pride after the war and the taboo of private flags. Now, this changed a lot during the World Cup in Germany in 2006 when at least the younger generations put these taboos behind them and behaved like youngsters all over the world. And now, before the world cup starts we can see this again. Suddenly, it seems acceptable to put a flag in your window or even on your car. In our last category Jean is divided whether flags and partiotism should be seen as right or wrong.

The next show will be hosted by Anne Fox in Denmark on 25 June

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

Editor: Dino Nogarole

Podcast-Feed

iTunes-Abo

absolutely intercultural 105 +++ Didgeridoo +++ lifelong learning +++ power distance +++

absolutely nominated
Our podcast has been nominated for the European Podcast Award – please help us win the prize by voting for us. Just click on the German and the Danish  flag and vote for Absolutely Intercultural. The address is http://www.european-podcast-award.eu/ and basically all you need to do is to give us a star rating for both content and design and then click the Vote button and that’s it.  Thank you in advance!

absolutely down-under
As I am preparing to leave Australia soon, in my mind I am trying to compile a collection of lasting impressions that I gained during my stay in down-under. Now, for this podcast my challenge was – to capture one specific sound that would be emblematic for Australia. For me, personally, this would probably be the incredible bird sounds that I have already shared with you in previous shows. However, I have a feeling that for others the sound of the didgeridoo captures the Australian spirit best. In a small country town of the Hinterland I was fortunate enough to meet a part-blood Aboriginal and his daughter, both, producers and players of these Yirdakis, which is the real name for these curious wind instruments developed by Indigenous Australians of northern Australia since at least 1500 years ago. In our first category, I wanted to find out what exactly you have to do to produce this typical sound and where the name “didgeridoo” comes from.

absolutely lifelong
We are still talking about learning – can you imagine going to school again for the rest of your life? And to sit in class and listen to what a teacher tells you? Or maybe there are other forms of learning out there?
Lifelong learning is often promoted by institutions of adult education, so we have interviewed Ulla and Beate, who both work for adult education institutions. Ulla works for the Folkuniversitetet in Sweden and Beate for Volkshochschule Köln, in Germany. I asked them whether there is a recognisable culture of lifelong learning, and what makes people want to carry on learning throughout their lives.

absolutely distant
It is incredibly rewarding to work with people who out of their own free will decide to improve themselves and constantly set themselves new challenges by integrating into new learning situations.
Two of these people are Jakub and Mariusz, two Erasmus students from Poland, who spent a summer semester at RheinAhrCampus in Remagen. In our last category they describe a stark difference between the student-professor-relationships in Poland and in Germany. Geert Hofstede describes the intercultural dimension behind this as “power distance”. It is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions (here the students) expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
Now, the observation of the two students totally confirms Hofstede’s theory. Power Distance in Poland is much higher than in most other European countries and in particular than in Germany. So it was to be expected that Polish students found the idea of a German Professor as a colleague and a friend very disturbing. However, we started our interview with the Polish students’ observations about Europe. They report that while the European idea is still new and exciting in Poland the Germans do not seem to appreciate or even question it any longer because they simply take Europe for granted.

The next show will be hosted by Anne Fox in Denmark on 02. April.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Dino Nogarole

absolutely intercultural 65 +++ working cultures +++ email writing styles +++ excursion to Poland +++ teaching staff mobility program +++

In today’s show, we put our emphasis on working cultures, both, in digital work contexts and in face-to-face team work.

Whether you prefer to work in a hierarchical context or whether you prefer to work collaboratively – we sometimes end up in workplaces which do not leave the choice to us. Are you aware of the working culture that surrounds you? Do you appreciate it or would you change it if you could? Do you notice that you have an impact on this culture, too?

absolutely structured:
We hear about different email cultures and discover that yes – your email may show your personal writing style – but that your email also says a lot about the working culture of your company or your institution. Our interviewees fill us in on their opinions regarding the perfect email. We learn that signals which indicate whether the message is well structured and can easily be read and dealt with are quite important and that preference is often given to those messages which have a “speaking” subject line.

absolutely international:
Different working cultures in face-to-face teamwork are explored. Jean Lennox of the University of Applied Sciences in Mönchengladbach, Germany, reports about an international excursion with university students to Posnan, Poland, which confronts them with the difficulties of working in groups of European students from various countries. We learn that intercultural tests of what we expect of the working cultures of other countries can bring up interesting results.

absolutely mobile:
Nora Müller, who is going to the Netherlands for her practical training, gives us some insights into her preparations for her stay abroad and tells us that she believes that going to a neighboring country in Europe is still a big step.
Dr. Cruickshank from Scotland and Clementina Poposka from Macedonia came to Germany as lecturers under the “teaching staff mobility” program. We get to hear what they hope to gain from their academic mobility and in which way universities in their home countries differ from what they experienced during their visit.

The next show will be coming to you on 19 September from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Assistant Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 63 +++ studying abroad +++ ERASMUS placements +++ internships abroad +++ intercultural preparation +++ international week in Remagen +++ scholarships +++

logo of the \
In today’s show the emphasis is on students who decide to spend some quality time abroad. What are their choices, how do students need to prepare themselves, when should they start with their intercultural preparations? Most students, whether they take a Bachelor or a Master course, have the opportunity to go abroad for some time during their studies. Our interviewees tell us what the benefits of such a study abroad period can be.

absolutely welcome: 
At most universities the international offices try to highlight students’ opportunities for going abroad by celebrating an international week at least once a year. The university invites representatives from their partner universities who can then explain and advertise their study programmes and answer specific student questions concerning the best choice of courses, the credit points which students can gain during their stay abroad and also questions concerning accommodation or living costs in their countries. Listen to Prof. Henzler, president of the University of Applied Sciences Koblenz as she welcomes the delegations from the different partner universities on the first day of the international week. 

absolutely useful:
From the student perspective the presence of the foreign guests offers a number of opportunities. They can follow lectures in foreign languages, can get to know teachers and administrators from the partner university before they arrive there and make informed choices as to which university would be the best one to go to. We listen to one of the student representatives of the “go-out”-initiative (German Academic Exchange Service – DAAD). Gerrit tells us that he sees the main benefits of these periods abroad in the fact that they create new and unexpected opportunities to expand your own personality and that well-documented experience abroad is a great plus when you are looking for a new job – because it seems to be a strong signal to the prospective employer that you are motivated, flexible, and that you show initiative and speak foreign languages.

absolutely integrated:
Most universities have orientation weeks where all foreign students get together and get basic information or do excursions around the university in order to facilitate their integration. Some universities have “buddy programs” where the incoming foreign students are paired with local students whose task it is to integrate the newcomers as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Adelheid Korpp, who is in charge of the “incoming students” at RheinAhrCampus tells us what the university offers to make sure that the students from the partner universities have the best start, get integrated quickly and, if possible, feel at home in their new surroundings right from the beginning of their stay.  

absolutely strategic: 
Students should prepare themselves interculturally for their stay abroad before they arrive at their new destination. Barbara Neukirchen, who looks after the “outgoing students” at RheinAhrCampus and coaches them during their application process for universities and scholarships tells us how students can plan a successful stay abroad if only they start the planning phase early enough.  

absolutely prepared:
In our last interview Carsten Ritterath a Bachelor student of business administration reports about his preparation for an internship in England. His football coach helped him find the English organisation where one of his tasks will be to compare English and German approaches to health management in companies. Carsten has applied for a scholarship from ERASMUS-placements and he tells us what he needed to do in order to apply for this. He wrote a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, he took part in an intercultural seminar and he had to pass an English test. We are keeping our fingers crossed for him to get the scholarship in the end because accommodation in London can be quite expensive.

Our next show will be coming to you on 22 August from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Und bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host and editor of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

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

Download
Podcast-Feed
iTunes-Abo