absolutely intercultural 58 +++ Calendar Girls +++ Juliette Towhidi +++ Language Lab +++ Finland +++

absolutely complimentary
Thanks to Tammy Roberts from Nashville for some kind words about the show. Tammy organises international exchanges for high school students. Amongst other things Tammy wrote: ‘Your podcasts have helped me to understand different cultures around the world which has helped me to relate better with some of the students. One small example was the German student that thought I was very odd for flying a US flag at our home. … once I heard your podcast on Germans flying flags, it clicked why she was not comfortable with my display‘. We love stories like that. So if you have another example where you found the podcast useful then let us know by leaving a comment here.

absolutely shocking
Juliette Towhidi is widely known for her screenplay of the film ‘Calendar Girls’. This is a very British movie based on a true story. The Women’s Institute or WI as it’s known, in Britain, is an old-established organisation originally for farmer’s wives to get together and swap recipes and knitting patterns. At least that is the stereotype. The film tells the story of a group of friends at a Women’s Institute in Yorkshire, one of whom has a husband who dies of cancer. The friends decide to raise money for cancer research in a very unusual way by making a calendar posed by members of the WI in various states of tasteful undress. Tasteful means that although they are wearing fewer clothes than they should, you don’t see anything that you shouldn’t. Remember that these are mainly women of ‘a certain age’ as we say politely.In real life thousands of copies of the calendar were sold and the story became widely known.

This was a virtual event which happened in the virtual world, Second Life. The chat show was one of a series of events organised by Language Lab, a pioneering language school which operates 100% in Second Life. They have built a whole city with a theatre, art gallery, café, toy shop and church to name but a few of the locations where you can have your language lessons. As well as more traditional lessons, they also organise events such as art exhibitions and the chat show which features in this podcast. The great thing is that you are not watching a TV here, you are part of it. They have even hired actors who staff the café, shops and other buildings so that you can have the full inter-cultural experience. For example the audience at the Juliette Towhidi interview could slip the chat show host a note with a question for the movie writer.

absolutely secret
What is the secret of a good education? Finland is a country which regularly tops the PISA international comparisons and at a recent conference I attended, the audience couldn’t help questioning the Finnish presenter Timo Väliharju of Mediamaisteri about the secret to Finland’s success.

absolutely sacred
In this segment Juliette is talking about another film, London Kebabs, which she was involved in which explored religious and cultural differences.

The next show will be coming to you on 13th June Dr. Laurent Borgmann from Germany .

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Peter Kron


absolutely intercultural 56 +++ Intercultural Management Institute +++ military diplomacy+++ personal space +++ virtual consuls +++ Diplopedia +++ Pangea Day +++

Danish Podcaster PrizeThis is the second and final extract from the annual Intercultural Management Institute conference held in March in Washington DC. Laura Hash was our on the spot reporter.

absolute war:
Even in war there is intercultural work to be done. R. Philip Deavel, Deputy General Counsel for Dispute Resolution, US Air Force tells of the intercultural skills needed when American tanks have destroyed a Korean farmer’s rice field or when the warring factions in Rwanda had to come to an accommodation.

absolutely personal:
Richard Harris, Professor, Faculty of Management, Chukyo University, Japan has a novel way of describing the proximity expected in some cultures. ‘People from the Middle East …say they love to feel the breath of the other person’. He also explains how distance is measured by the singing of songs by some Pacific cultures.

absolutely Kahn:
Dr Gary Weaver explains a cultural simulation involving a Mr Kahn of unknown origin. Kahn comes from a high context culture as defined by Edward Hall and we hear an extract of a role play in which low context meets high context with amusing results. Behind the fun lie some important intercultural principles.

absolutely diplomatic:
Darren Krape, New Media Advisor, describes how the new media are influencing diplomatic work. The first example is of virtual consuls and the second is of a Wikimedia type exercise within the state department called Diplopedia. Not surprisingly the open editing approach of building up intelligence in this way had some sceptism to overcome.

absolutely worldclass:
Don’t forget that May 10th is Pangea Day. People all over the world have been competing to make short films illustrating universal human values. The 24 best films will be shown over four hours at 18 GMT. Which do you like best? Did you hold an event or attend a Pangea event? Tell us about it by adding a comment here.

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:
The next show will be coming to you on 16 May from Dr. Laurent Borgmann  from RheinAhrCampus in Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is:  Anne Fox
Editor: Dr. Laurent Borgmann

absolutely intercultural 52 +++ Achill Island +++ Borrowed identities +++ The Island +++ Ireland

Work on Achill IslandAbsolutely Educational The main part of this show is devoted to the impressions of two of the teachers who facilitated workshops as part of the ‘Borrowed Identities’ project which brought over 30 students together from Hungary, Germany, the UK, Spain and Lithuania on the west coast island of Achill in Ireland. How did the teachers manage these multi-cultural groups? Were there language problems? Listen as Scott de Francesco from the USA and Dainora Maumevičienė from Lithuania describe the progress of the groups as the week wears on. You can find out more about the project and what went on by reading the online travelogue produced by another of the project workshops.

Absolutely Musical A feature of island life is that people are multi-talented. One outstanding example of this is Kate O’Malley who works at the Achill Cliff House Hotel who also has a magnificent singing voice. She was persuaded to sing on our last night on Achill so we have included an extract from the haunting song ‘The Island’ which really made the hairs on the back of our necks stand on end.

The next show will be coming to you on 21 March from Dr. Laurent Borgmann.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is:Anne Fox in Denmark


absolutely intercultural 50 +++ Golden Anniversary +++ Vance Stevens +++ free conference +++ triple nationality

Rob Goodspeed - Visualisation of Blogrolls Network of UAE blog communityWelcome to the Golden Anniversary show of Absolutely Intercultural. Yes, this is show number 50 and we are delighted to still be here. We would also like to say thank you to everyone for supporting us, writing comments on the blog, voting for us in award schemes, sending us audio files, giving us ideas and links and last but not least thank you to all those people who have taken part so far.

absolutely connected
I have known Vance Stevens, virtually of course, for over six years. He recently wrote an article about the challenges of implementing Web 2.0 in Arabic educational institutions but first he talks about what drew him to the Arab world from his native US and the extent to which expatriates there can stay ‘in the loop’

absolute winners
There were no entries for our competition for weeks and then two correct answers arrived within a week. Fortunately I had two Rivus CDs to give away and I managed to speak with both winners. By the way the correct answer was dulcimer or cimbalom. In speaking with Susanne Nyrop from Denmark, I asked her about the strange habit of celebrating the birthdays of Danish shops and it turned out that Susanne had been to the first year anniversary celebrations of the first ever supermarket in Denmark.

absolutely educational
Elaine Hoter, Talpiot Teachers College, contacted us about a free online conference on Wedneday February 13th starting at 10am GMT about technology and multiculturalism. By coincidence, Vance Stevens will be one of the speakers talking about RSS, tagging and other Web 2.0 tools. Other speakers include Dr Janet Salmons, Dr Michelle Selinger and Dr Sheila Geresh.

absolutely connected again
Vance Stevens finds his students in Abu Dhabi very enthusiastic about using web 2.0 tools as part of their learning and talks about the way in which his experiences are gradually gaining acceptance of his approach at an institutional level. One example is the way in which he convinced the management that Internet was necessary not just for the teachers but for all the students too. Vance’s call to be connected in order to learn means that he and those in his network transcend borders.

absolutely international
Our first winner of the Rivus CD was Mai Berry Dahl living in the Netherlands. It turned out that she was Danish but has an even more complicated background. The most surprising fact I learned from Mai was that it is possible to have three nationalities.

The next show will be coming to you on 22 February from Dr. Laurent Borgmann.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is:Anne Fox in Denmark


absolutely intercultural 48 +++ Salford +++ Webheads +++ pantomime +++ voting +++ Pangea Day

Aladdin PantomimeIn this show I am mainly in conversation with Cristina Costa. But there are also many interruptions from a pesky pantomime audience! They just about allow me to announce a very special film festival.

Absolutely surprising: ‘I had never heard of Salford before!’ Cristina comes from Portugal where she was working as an English teacher in the Portuguese navy but just over a year ago she decided to take on the job of Learning Technologies Development Officer at Salford University in the UK. Cristina describes the now familiar long settling in period when you migrate. But regarding her work Cristina felt right at home very quickly mainly due to her established connections through the Webhead online community.

Absolutely Cultural: It was round about last October that I realised that our children had never experienced that very British phenomenon, the pantomime and that they might soon be too old to appreciate it so this year we made a trip to the UK during which they were introduced to this theatrical experience. When I searched for some sound effects for this part of the show I realised that the word pantomime has different meanings depending on where you live. In the US pantomime means the silent acting out of a story whereas in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and a few other places pantomime refers to the highly stylised telling of a fairy story. When I started researching a bit more on the topic I discovered even more rules which I hadn’t been aware of such as that the good fairy always enters from the left and the wicked witch from the right (as seen by the audience). To find out if it was all worthwhile I asked my 13 year old daughter, Gwen, what she had thought of the whole thing.

Absolutely political: I had just received my registration papers to continue to be able to vote in British national elections when I spoke to Cristina so I couldn’t resist asking her whether she was still able to vote in Portugal. Different countries have different rules. In France and the USA you have the vote for life. In the UK you have the vote for 15 years and in Denmark you lose the vote as soon as you leave the country (with the exception of temproary studentships). The more people take advantage of freedom of movement, the greater will be the number who are disenfranchised. Does this matter?

Absolutely cultural 2: Pangea Day is an unusual film festival planned for May 10th this year. It will consist of short videos made by you if you can complete it by February 15th. The aim is to speak to the world and the organisers advise that you could take one of over 200 cultural universals such as pain, play, anger, music, status or shelter as your theme to make sure that the film speaks to as many as possible.

Absolutely your last chance to win a CD by the Czech band Rivus. What instrument do they play in addition to the double bass and the violin?

The next show will be coming to you on 25th January from Laurent Borgmann in Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Mathias Knops


absolutely intercultural 46 +++ Chile +++ Rivus +++ Australian Christmas +++ competition +++ Budacast +++ Palabea +++ Economist

Chocolate Easter bilbyThe main feature today is about a teacher exchange between Denmark and Chile which started with a bottle of wine! We’ll be hearing how traditional symbols are being adapted the Australian way. And finally we’ll be visiting Budacast, the podcast of one of our regular listeners, Drew Leifheit, who knows more than most about Budapest and the area around.

absolutely musical
Here in Denmark Christmas preparations are in full swing. Not everybody celebrates Christmas but the atmosphere is making us feel generous and so we will send a copy of the latest CD of Rivus, the 3 piece band from the Czech Republic we featured in June, to the first person who can send us a mail telling us the name of the third instrument played by the band in addition to violin and double bass. We can accept either of the two names that this third instrument is known as. Send a mail to contact@absolutely-intercultural.com together with your name and an address we can send the CD to. And in the meantime let’s give you a reminder of what the instrument sounds like… perhaps you know the tune? Did you recognise the tune as Elvis Presley’s Love me Tender? There are a few more cover versions on the CD all given this unique Czech twist and the rest of the tracks are traditional Czech songs.

absolutely educational
So let’s start with something absolutely educational by hearing about a teacher exchange which is not the usual run of the mill ‘visit your neighbour’ type of exchange. I am not belittling those exchanges. In fact I did one myself many years ago when I still lived in the UK and taught at a Belgian school for 3 weeks. My exchange was easily arranged by the European Union but what about forging contacts yourself? How could that be done? I talked to Vibeke Stenberg, a teacher at Ryomgaard Realskole, just back from an exchange between Denmark and Chile. What I like about this story is not just that Vibeke’s school has built a relationship with a school in an untraditional part of the world for Europeans but also that this experience shows that exchanges can arise out of all sorts of different ways.

absolutely traditional
You may remember that I talked with Michael Coghlan and his daughter, Alison Waye, in Australia back in July. What you don’t know is that we carried on talking and then the topic of a southern hemisphere Christmas came up and I discovered something surprising. And you can see a picture of one of those chocolate bilbies at the top of this page. Do you have any other examples about how traditional symbols have been adapted? If so then leave us a comment here on the blog.

absolutely addictive
Drew Leifheit has been a faithful listener from the earliest episodes and has often left thoughtful comments but did you know that he has his own podcast called Budacast all about Hungary, its capital Budapest where he is based and surrounding countries. If you find yourself with a little extra leisure time over the next couple of weeks then why not give Budacast a listen? This snippet is about the clean rooms which are to be found in the Hungarian part of Transylvania. Do you have a clean room I wonder? Let us know here on the blog.

absolutely debatable
If you are a university student then there is a good chance you may be thinking of doing part or even all of your course abroad. It seems that universities all over the world are competing for foreign students and this must be a good thing for everybody if there is a cultural exchange. But not everybody agrees and if you would like to take part in a debate about this then the Economist magazine is holding an online debate about this until December 28. You can read the different views, add your own view and vote on whether foreign student placements are a good thing or not.

absolutely linguistic
One last little present in this show is to point you in the direction of a new language learning website called Palabea which you can use absolutely free of charge and which includes audio and video facilities so that you can meet with native speakers of the language you want to learn. According to the Palabea people ‘Access to language is one of the first steps to cross-cultural empathy.’’ To which I say ‘Hear hear!’ As ever you can find the link on our blog.

The next show will be brought to you by Laurent Borgmann in Germany on December 28 and don’t forget to mail us with your competition entry to contact@absolutely-intercultural.com if you know the name of the third instrument played by Rivus. So Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it and stay tuned won’t you?

The host of this show is: Anne Fox


absolutely intercultural 44 +++ Ghana +++ Brazil +++ blogs +++ Myers-Briggs revisited +++ Mystery guests

Mystery guest
Absolutely yours: First of all, thank you to the listeners who got in touch after the last show. Grit Matthias was especially interested in Show 35 where we featured teacher podcasters. Grit’s class makes short podcasts in German. So if you are learning German why not have a listen?

When ‘Uncle Drew’ questioned why we had featured the Myers & Briggs personality test in the last show, I looked into it and found that the questionnaire has been tested across many cultures to check that its personality types are valid and that they had found that the distribution of personality types was the same across cultures although maybe not of the same order. Cultural differences do occur in how we are expected to express our personalities. At the Myers & Briggs blog for example I found that there were more introvert British entrepreneurs while in the USA there were far fewer and the difference could be explained by the way in which we are allowed to express our introvert or extrovert personalities in the two cultures. So thank you ‘Uncle Drew’ for your comment.

Absolutely Educational: Our main feature in this show is the story of an educational project carried out by CV2 in Denmark with a Ghanaian company. We hear first how things did not go exactly according to plan and in the second part we hear what the Danish partners think is the reason for the difficulties they experienced. If you are familiar with Ghana you can probably see the story from the other side. And if you do then why not leave a comment here about it?

Absolutely Interactive: Are cultural differences apparent in blogs? That was a question I put to Trine Maria Kristensen, a corporate communications expert in Denmark.

Then I talked to Carla Arena, a Brazilian English teacher living in Florida, who agreed to be a mystery guest on my students’ blog. Who learned the most? Carla or my students?

The next show will be coming to you from Laurent Borgmann in Germany on November 30 and will be rather musical!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox


absolutely intercultural 42 +++ International Baccalaureate +++ Grenaa +++ Florida +++ blog +++ Brazil

John McDonald photo of an IB DiplomaIn this show we go absolutely educational investigating the International Baccalaureate or IB as it’s known for short and how blogging can foster intercultural understanding.

Absolutely Educational
What sort of people take this course I wondered, how does it differ from what they would be doing if they had just followed the normal schooling in their country? Does the international classroom have any advantages or disadvantages either at the time or later when the IB graduates move on to the next stage in their career? I talked with two groups of students doing the IB at Grenaa Gymnasium.
Absolutely yours
One of our listeners, Trevor King, in France put me right on a few IB-related points. He wrote: “The IBO don’t only offer it in English; it’s possible to do the course based in French, Spanish and Chinese as well. You are entering the politics of education and the world of ‘international education’ is a hot one; there are no schools in Europe doing the IB in French. There are a few I know of in Quebec do that.”

Thank you Trevor and if you want to put us right or add to something we said then please add a comment to our blog at http://www.absolutely-intercultural.com/ or send us an audio comment to contact@absolutely-intercultural.com

One thing I learned about the IB from Wikipedia was that about half the IB courses in the world are offered in the state system of schooling, as it is for example in Grenaa, which means that it is not necessarily a rich person’s education.

Absolutely Virtual
So what can you do if you don’t live near a school offering the IB or if your students can’t afford to go on long exchanges abroad? Teachers such as Brazilian, Carla Arena, use the communication possibilities of the internet to help her students get in touch with other cultures. But how much can you learn just by adding comments to a blog? See the blog to find out.

Absolutely Educational Part 2
To find out how much the IB courses have in common I spoke with Zoe Sessums who is doing her IB diploma at Eastside school in Gainsville, Florida in the United States. Here in an English speaking country the international aspect is not so much to the fore.

In the end I had the impression that the IB courses did not make the best use of the possibilities offered by having a worldwide network.

The next show will be coming to you from Remagen in Germany on November 2nd. So stay tuned!

The Host of this show is: Anne Fox


absolutely intercultural 40 +++ Grenaa Global Music Festival+++ Moussa Diallo +++ International Baccalaureate +++

Mahnoor, Neghat and NikolajIn this show we go behind the scenes at Grenaa Global Music Festival and ask what effect, if any, such an event can have on intercultural understanding.

Absolutely Cultural

The Global Music Festival is not just about music but includes many other inter-cultural elements at a free festival which takes place in the centre of Grenaa town.

‘I saw so many happy faces.’
One of the prime movers behind the idea which started last year is Moussa Diallo, originally from Mali and we hear from him and another expatriate Butch Lacy from the USA about the concepts behind the event.If you go to their web sites you will see that music is much more than just music for these two men but also a means for achieving different forms of heightened communication.

The music used in the podcast is part of Moussa Diallo’s repertoire and you can hear much more on his website.

I have lived all over the world.’
Josephine is one of the students studying for her International Baccalaureate at Grenaa Gymnasium and listed for me all the places she had lived in to date. The IB is an international education which takes place in English and which therefore attracts many multi-cultural students. The course is not just academic but also includes artistic and community service elements and this is why I found many IB students as I was wandering round the festival.

I met with Rikke from Denmark and Julia from Poland who had been reading African creation myth stories to children, Mahnoor from Pakistan who had taught Nikolaj from Russia to paint henna on hands and Neghat from Afghanistan who had tried and failed to make and fly kites. Josephine, a Dane, had been face painting children according to the patterns found on traditional masks around the world.

The show ends with an explanation of what culture means to Butch Lacy.

The next show will be coming out on the 5th of October and will be coming to you from Germany.

The Host of this show is: Anne Fox


absolutely intercultural 38 +++ Iceland +++ 3D College +++ Seattle +++ Chernobyl +++ Stephen Pinker +++

From Iceland to the 3D College to Chernobyl to Seattle.

TykmandIn this show we are going to hear from a number of people who have found themselves in a different culture for a short period but they haven’t just been on holiday.

absolutely personal
Our first guest is Anne Würtz Petersen, a Danish scientist who found herself on a scientific expedition in Iceland examining the threatened Greenland White-fronted Goose in a group consisting mainly of British colleagues. How did she cope with the technical language and the speed of native speaker language? Tony Fox, one of her colleagues on that trip, tried to find out.

absolutely animated
3D college in Denmark trains young people from the age of about 16 or 17 in this fast growing industry and as part of their studies these students all make several study trips one of which is to Seattle in the USA where they can learn from some of the best in the world such as animators from Disney. Do we see so much American TV and cinema that we all have the feeling that we already know the place before we even set foot there? I talked to Mads and Tobias about the trip and about some of the pictures in an unofficial blog of their travels which has lots of pictures.

absolutely speechless
At least Mads and Tobias were able to communicate with their host families as they had English as a common language. But what if you went away for a month to stay in somebody’s house where there was no common language at all? Could that work? That was the situation faced by some old friends of mine, Nicky Penford and her son Adam in Aberdeen Scotland when they agreed to host two boys from Belarus for a month, earlier this summer. Belarus was badly affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 and the whole country is still polluted by radiation which affects people’s health. The Chernobyl Children Lifeline charity offers Belarusian children a month’s homestay in countries around the world since it turns out that a month spent in a place with clean air and food can add as much as two years to a Belarusian’s life expectancy. But the Belarusians speak Russian and my friends and their son speak only English. So how did it go? BabelFish was a useful tool for giving the boys an idea of each day’s programme.

absolutely theoretical
I was looking for information about the theories of Stephen Pinker when I came across a couple of really interesting tests which you can take to help his research. The tests are not explicitly about intercultural communication but are trying to find out how people express themselves in difficult or awkward situations. So if you are quite good at English go to http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/ and click on ‘participate in a study’ which will take you to the first test and then suggest you participate in a second study run by one of his colleagues. I am not allowed to say more about the content otherwise I’ll spoil the research. But I will say that both tests raise all sorts of interesting intercultural situations and it is worth thinking about how people from other cultures might react to the same dilemmas.

The next show will be coming out on the 7th of September and will be coming to you from Germany.

The Host of this show is: Anne Fox