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?
Firefox users please try another browser so that you can access the audio player.
If you like the podcast then LIKE US ON FACEBOOK HERE!
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.
Our New Editor from Spain: Elena Colunga Caballero. Welcome to our team!
So what should we be listening to in this podcast:
How do you personally try to gain authentic information about a country and culture that you are interested in? Do you trust the official view of the foreign office website? Or do you go straight to Wikipedia? How about listening to some real people from that country? This way you will get the unofficial story from the citizens themselves. Perhaps it could be interesting to listen to a father of two children who can tell you what it is really like to take the two on public transport or to a restaurant? This is inside information that you may not find in any of the official publications of the country. Under a system which is called Rotation Curation Movement, Karsten Kneese will host the twitter account of I_amGermany for a week starting next Monday.
Let us explore what you, the listeners can find out about his culture if you follow him during that week. In our first category “absolutely twitter” I asked Karsten how the Rotation Curation Movement has developed since it started in Sweden last year. If you are interested, please find “I_amGermany” on Twitter on Monday and follow Karsten around for a week. This is grass-roots journalism on Twitter that I think you should not miss. You have the opportunity to find out the real story from real citizens without having to travel to the country.
I spoke to a group of students from the German-Jordanian University who jumped in at the deep end and decided to spend a whole semester in Europe. In our second category “absolutely stereotypical” I asked them what their parents and friends had warned them about before they left.
In our third category “absolutely international” I am talking to a young but very well travelled person. After spending all her holidays abroad since she was 15 she has also studied in France and has now started doing her practical training in the department of Languages /International Affairs at the University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz. I asked Elena from Spain what her friends and family had said when she was planning her big step.
Let us now return to the group of Jordanians who told me that in their country it would be very unusual for a lecturer to go to the university by bike, because there seems to exist a bigger “power distance” between lecturers and their students. We also learn that in Jordan, if you get invited to dinner you have to refuse several times in order to be polite before you finally accept. So one of the students politely said “No” to a dinner invitation in Germany but then learned the hard way that here you only get one shot, and he was not invited again. In our last category “absolutely different” I asked the students to explain major cultural differences which they have observed during the first weeks in Europe.
Our next show will again be coming to you on 2nd of November from Anne Fox in Denmark.
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 CSR which is short for “Corporate Social Responsibility”. My students and I visited an intercultural Erasmus Intensive Program for students and lecturers from 12 different universities all over Europe organized in Izmir at Yasar University in Turkey. We all shared our knowledge and experience concerning the different approaches to CSR in different countries and learned a lot about challenges and benefits in the European context. In general you could say that CSR is meant to improve the relationship between a company and all its stakeholders. It actually must be the responsibility of us all and especially of successful companies to protect society and the environment. CSR also changes company cultures by improving the relationship with employees, suppliers, customers, the environment and the local community.
absolutely win-win In this category, I would like to dive into the topic a little deeper. I am talking to Laura Brandt from the Haute Ecole de la Province de Liège in Belgium. She is a lecturer for Entrepreneurship and a bit of an expert on SMEs, which means “Small and Medium sized Enterprises”. She tells us that, in fact, 99% of all European companies are SMEs. These companies are facing tough economic challenges right now in the crisis. Laura explains why it is so important for SMEs to integrate Corporate Social Responsibility in their “core business values”. I asked her to tell us how she found out about the subject before joining the intensive seminar in Turkey. Laura gives an interesting example of a cleaning company in which CSR really turned into a win-win situtation for the company and all its stakeholders.
absolutely communicative Our last guest for today is Adelheid Korpp. Adelheid and her husband love traveling. About 10 years ago, when they decided to travel around the world, she got in touch with an organization called Servas. Servas provides travellers with free accommodation all over the world, but you only get invited to stay at a host’s place if you obey certain rules of the system. Adelheid will explain how she got in touch with Servas and how the system works. This may, in fact, be the best way to get in touch with locals while travelling through different countries. In my opinion Servas is also an excellent example of a non-profit organisation which could be supported by companies. So, if you are a CEO and you are looking for a good CSR-cause – please do get in touch with them.