absolutely intercultural 163 +++ internationalize yourself at home +++ simulations in teaching +++ social barriers +++ culture shock +++ BARNGA


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Have you ever thought about preparing yourself “interculturally” before going abroad? Did you know that you can simulate a culture shock without ever going abroad? It is perhaps possible to internationalize yourself within your home country’s borders through games and simulations.

absolutely foreign
For young academics it does not seem to be adequate any longer to only study in their home countries. Recruiters pay a lot of attention to intercultural experiences that candidates may bring to the new job as a consequence of an exchange programme or an internship abroad. It is a fact that young people whose personal and academic life has been enriched by several stays in different countries are likely to get the jobs they wish. Saskia, Younes and Philipp, three university students, want to share with us their plans to internationalize themselves. However, their stories may be true or false (if you want to find it out, have a look at our facebook page).  Who knows, maybe you will get “itchy feet” while listening to these stories and make a similar plan abroad?

absolutely privileged
In our second category “absolutely privileged” we focus on a game named “How far can I get in my society” inspired by Alexandra Haas and her project “Teaching Culture!“. Matthew and Tehlia, both Australians participants in this game, were amazed at how it makes the social barriers in a society visible. They noticed how some people can go very far whereas immigrants and poorer individuals, with limited opportunities, are often in a disadvantaged position and get left behind.

absolutely real
If you are planning to go abroad and it is your first time, maybe the card game BARNGA, which we have already talked about in previous shows, can help you with your intercultural preparation. It really helps experience the real feelings that you will have when moving to another country. Zydrune shares with us her impressions when she played this game, and how it reminded her of her first days in Germany, the feeling of being in a place with a different language, rules and culture from her home country, Lithuania.

absolutely simulated
Maybe you want  to listen to the opinion of a university lecturer of intercultural communication to understand the didactical aims of these games and simulations. In this last category, Elena, our editor, interviews Laurent, the host of the show,  who explains the reasons why he believes simulations are sometimes preferable to real life and talks about their advantages and disadvantages.

If you want even more background as to broader issues behind our intercultural stories in this podcast then you might consider visiting the Absolutely Intercultural Amazon store here where we have both classics, basics and specifics for sale, a small proportion of which goes to us to support the costs of maintaining this podcast.

Our next show will be coming to you on 1  March from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Elena Colunga Caballero

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absolutely intercultural 161 +++ Managing Cultural Diversity +++ Corporate Social Responsability +++ Ethics and Morality +++ Corporate Governance +++ BARNGA +++

playing the intercultural card gameHave you ever participated in a seminar with students and lecturers from more than 16 countries? The focus of the seminar “Managing Cultural Diversity”, was on Corporate Social Responsibility”. Some of the participants were willing to share their impressions of this international event, talking about the organization, the different workshops and the explanation of a very confusing intercultural game called “BARNGA”.

absolutely ethical
Let us listen to Nadya’s emotions caused by a very dominant manager during a simulation about different intercultural categories in Corporate Governance. After Adelheid’s contribution, we will return to her in order to try to get an answer to the following question: “Can a Business Really be Ethical?” with the help of the Portuguese teacher Carla Pedroso de Lima.

absolutely similar
It is really surprising how people from different backgrounds have so many things in common rather than being completely different. Dr. Anna Potter from Australia, talked to us about a very interesting TV channel in her country and asked all the participants to devise a TV program related to issues such as migration, stereotypes, refugees, interculturality… which Adelheid Korpp enjoyed a lot. The fact that both students and lecturers were working together helped to create a very constructive atmosphere.

absolutely simulated
In our third category “absolutely simulated” we come return to Omar, a Jordanian student at RheinAhrCampus, who did a really good job creating tension and making the simulation more realistic by using “I…, I…, I…!” He really looked like a very dominant and bossy manager when actually he was only acting out his role card.

absolutely emotional
Lukas and the rest of the participants got really confused and disappointed when he was sure to have understood all the rules of the intercultural card game named “BARNGA”. However, the more energy he put into winning the game, the more he realised that at the different tables people were playing to different rules. Now he says that  the same effort of cultural adaptation is needed when going to a different culture or country, for example, when visiting Thailand, as he did during his holidays.

Our next show will be coming to you on 4  January from Anne Fox in Denmark.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Elena Colunga Caballero

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absolutely intercultural 159 +++ Rotation Curation +++ Culture Shocks +++ Jordan +++ Working in an international environment +++

Our new editor, Elena

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.

absolutely twitter
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.

absolutely stereotypical
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.

absolutely international
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.

absolutely different
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.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

And please visit our Facebook page.

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Elena Colunga Caballero & Karsten Kneese

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absolutely intercultural 157 +++ CSR +++ students view +++ real life projects +++ community work +++ school children +++ elderly people +++

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.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Markus Scherer

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absolutely intercultural 156 +++ Corporate Social Responsibility +++ Theory & Practice +++ Sceptical Point of View +++ Turkcell +++ Success stories +++ European Companies +++ Non-Profit Organization +++

Today I am going to talk about CSR which is short for “Corporate Social Responsibility”. In postmodern times, “Corporate Social Responsibility” has enabled companies to do something good for society and to give something back to the community. Some companies may plant trees or donate money and others might start working in close cooperation with Non-Profit and  Non-Governmental Organizations to help people in need. I visited an intercultural Erasmus Intensive Program at Yasar University in Izmir, Turkey, where I got in touch with the big Turkish telecommunications company called “Turkcell”. Together with Corporate Responsiblitly Specialists from Turkcell and university lecturers, who teach CSR-related aspects of marketing we talked about good practice examples of CSR but also about the dark sides of the concept.

absolutely helpful
Turkcell afford to have a dedicated department which only deals with CSR issues. In our first category Burcu Haylaz tells us, how their company is doing charity work in Turkey and how quickly they took action after a horrific earthquake struck the province of Van in Eastern Turkey in 2011. Besides that I was really captivated by the “Snowdrops” project for young women and by the idea of the digital moneybox for collecting contributions from the wider public.

absolutely sceptical
Unfortunately not every company is really practicing CSR to genuinely help others. Some companies are rather trying to help themselves. Often the campaign appears like 100% marketing for the company. In this category I talked with Ann Knaepen from “Leuven University College” in Belgium, Carla de Lima from the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança in Portugal, Dr. Reka Jablonkai from “Corvinus University” in Hungary and Anne Burke from the “Letterkenny Institute of Technology” in Ireland. Together we talked about the phenomenon of “Green Washing”. This means, that companies that have a bad image in society, are using low-input CSR measures to artificially clean their own image. Green Washing, the negative side of CSR, seems to be an activity which flourishes in the shadow of all the good practice examples of corporate social responsibility. So I guess we need to be careful when we hear about large companies practicing CSR. There is a chance that they may be doing good things for the wrong reasons. Oxfam and Turkcell on the other hand seem to be great examples of companies and organisations that seriously and honestly try to improve the lives of all their stakeholders, not just their customers’.

absolutely idealistic
In our last category I would like to come back to our Turkcell CSR specialists. Together with them and the Turkish lecturers, we discussed theoretical aspects of CSR and their practical implementation. My Turkish colleague Duygu Turker who teaches CSR at the university asked Derya Kökten from Turkcell what factors in her view make a CSR activity successful. It is refreshing to hear how the university lecturers and the practitioners were working together on building this bridge between theory and practice in our seminar. I think such encounters, in this case hosted at Yasar University in Izmir, provide excellent opportunities to share important knowledge and to create a network so that students and lecturers from universities and the specialists from companies can work together to find the best solutions.

Our next show will again be coming to you on 3 of August.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Markus Scherer

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absolutely intercultural 155 +++ Intensive Seminar +++ Izmir +++ Corporate Social Responsibility +++ European Companies +++ Crisis +++ Non-Profit Organization +++ SERVAS +++

Students donating their used clothes at Yasar University IzmirToday 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 timely
We organized a roundtable discussion about CSR with lecturers from all over Europe who all participated in the ERASMUS Intensive Program in Izmir. Together with Ann Knaepen from the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, Carla de Lima from the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança in Portugal, Dr. Reka Jablonkai from Corvinus University Budapest in Hungary and Anne Burke from the Letterkenny Institute of Technology in Ireland we discussed different examples of CSR in those countries. We discussed, whether the middle of an economic crisis is really the right time to spend money on CSR-projects.

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.

Our next show will again be coming to you from Dr. Laurent Borgmann on July 6st.

Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Markus Scherer

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