absolutely intercultural 102 +++ Mark Pegrum +++ From Blogs to Bombs +++ Second Life +++ Nergiz Kern +++ Mecca +++ Evonline +++ TESOL +++

Tour of Virtual “Makkah” in Second Life from NergizK on Vimeo.

In this show you’ll be going on a guided tour of Mecca; we’ll be hearing from Mark Pegrum, author of the book ‘From Blogs to Bombs’ about the impact of digital technologies and we’ll be finding out how international a team of online moderators can be.

What I want to concentrate on in this show is a phenomenon which started about 10 years ago as an event leading up to the TESOL convention which usually happens in March. TESOL is an organisation of teachers of English and 10 years ago a couple of TESOL members had the idea of offering free online development sessions of interest to English teachers in the run-up to the face to face convention in March. The idea was such a success that it has become an annual feature and the current sessions are going on right now.

I thought I would explore some of the intercultural aspects of this event since it draws people from all over the world both as moderators and as participants and is built on the voluntary efforts of a growing band of enthusiasts. So, for 6 weeks starting in mid-January you can sign up to any of a growing list of sessions which this year included using video in class, using images, using the Internet with Young Learners, making the most of your Interactive Whiteboard, using drama, using online games and teaching in Second Life.

absolutely international
After ten years a certain number of traditions have emerged, one of which is the kick-off meeting during which all the sessions on offer are described by their moderators. There is a link to a recording of the full 2 hour event here.  If you have ever taken part in an Evonline session for example perhaps you could tell us about your experience of working with such a mixed international group as a comment to this blog. Not only do the participants come from all over the world but the moderators do too. Teresa Almeida d’Eça talked about the locations of the moderating panel for the session ‘Becoming a Webhead’ which is abbreviated to BAW.


That international mix is also reflected in the participants who sign up for the sessions and means that lively discussion is guaranteed. For example, in this year’s drama session, the moderators planned that participants should develop activities around the theme of tolerance and over the past few days there has been a heated, but respectful discussion about whether tolerance is actually a good thing or not. Does it lead us to condone actions which we disapprove of?

absolutely Mecca
When the Evonline sessions started over ten years ago most sessions were text-based discussions supported by a collection of Internet links. Now technology has moved on to such an extent that live meetings are common across all the sessions and teachers explore the use of all types of communication and storytelling methods. These include the use of virtual worlds such as Second Life where for example you can take your students on a virtual tour. What could that be like? One example is the tour led by Nergiz Kern around virtual Mecca as part of the Evonline session on  teaching languages in a virtual world. You can see the full 30 minute tour on the video above but for now we will eavesdrop on the introduction. The way the tour was organised meant that only Nergiz spoke, while comments and questions were taken through text chat so you’ll hear typing noises when the ‘tourists’ ask questions. You will also hear camera shutters when the tourists take photographs. Is this Absolutely Mecca?

So it’s not just a question of walking round replicas of buildings. With a good guide like Nergiz and an interested mixed group such as these language teachers I think you can learn a great deal from an event like this.

absolutely digital
Another of the Evonline sessions is about exploring the idea of multiliteracies, that it is not enough to be able to read and write but that we also have to be able to read more critically all the different digital channels which have emerged recently. Mark Pegrum in Australia has recently published a book about the topic and he was happy to join the Multiliteracies Evonline session to take questions about it. I let Vance Stevens, one of the Multiliteracies moderators introduce Mark, during one of the live sessions which were organised for this topic.

absolutely real
Now we’ll continue with our tour of Mecca by going into the Grand Mosque. Hey! Don’t forget to take off your shoes!

absolutely the best European podcast?
We’ve been nominated for the European Podcast Award which is being offered for the first time this year. You can go to the European Podcast Award webpage. What we need from you is a rating if you like the podcast. Now for the hard part. The award is divided according to countries and the Award organisers don’t know whether to allocate us to Germany or Denmark. At the moment you will find us listed under both countries but I think in the end we will only appear on the Danish pages. That’s the problem with being intercultural I guess! Anyway well keep you posted about how you can help us. The first deadline is mid-March so there is time to tidy things up.

The next show will be coming to you on 19th Febuary from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Australia.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Dino Nogarole

absolutely intercultural 100 +++ annniversary +++ Wedding Nouveau +++ Fri Bailey +++ European Podcast Award +++

wn_headerWelcome to show number 100 of Absolutely Intercultural. Yes, it’s true we have reached three figures since March 2006 when we first started.  In most cultures anniversaries are celebrated, birthdays being the most common. But even in that case there are huge differences in emphasis. For most, birthdays are an occasion for gifts and special foods but in some cultures a birthday can only be celebrated as a humble thanksgiving for the blessings you have enjoyed to date. So in that spirit I would like to say thank you to everyone who has taken part in the show so far. We couldn’t have done it without you. Certainly for me it’s been a wonderful excuse to get in touch with people from all over the world and to collate a wonderful collection of ideas, perspectives and experiences along the way. 

 Fri Bailey sent us an email and is the main topic of our anniversary show because she arranges celebrations which give rise to that other important anniversary, the wedding anniversary. Now we’ve covered weddings before in show number 41 when we heard about two intercultural weddings and how they were organised by the bride and groom. But this time we’re going to hear from someone who arranges intercultural weddings for a living. So what’s the answer to the question about whose traditions should be adopted for the wedding?

absolutely inspired
When I started this anniversary show I thought that celebrating anniversaries must be one of those universals of culture on a par with gender roles, kin groups and marriage but a closer look revealed that while anniversaries may be implicit in some of the universals they are by no means common across the world. However in my everyday life I have the feeling that I am overwhelmed by anniversaries but all I could find for 2010 was that it will be the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the 100th anniversary of Scouting in the USA. Where wedding anniversaries are concerned then there has to be a wedding to trigger the anniversary so I asked Fri Bailey, who is originally from Cameroon in Africa, where she got the idea of arranging inter-cultural weddings for a living.

absolutely silver
As regular listeners may know I am a Briton living in Denmark and when you come to live in a different culture there are many new things to learn, new days to celebrate and new ways to celebrate. When we had lived in Denmark about 6 years we received an invitation to a 25th wedding anniversary celebration. I have to say that joy turned to consternation when we realised that this meant arriving at the happy couple’s house at 7.30… in the morning. Guests have to go through the pretence of waking the couple up by singing in the garden under their window. They then wake up and invite you in for an impromptu breakfast. Well I was the only one in our household who was prepared to accept the invitation as everyone else had to go to work or school. And when we woke the happy couple up with our singing, they seemed remarkably awake and miraculously dressed. Thankfully the wedding anniversary was in spring and the rain held off and when we trouped into the house there was rather more than just a quick coffee and lightly toasted slice of bread to eat. I must say that an early morning party left me with many questions such as How long was it polite or expected that I should stay? Perhaps I needed an inter-cultural advisor like Fri Bailey? 

absolutely matrimonial
Having discovered where she got her idea for the Wedding Nouveau service I was then interested to hear about some specific examples of weddings she had been asked to assist with. I would recommend a visit to the Wedding Nouveau website at  where you will see some of the inspired and creative suggestions that Fri has come up with for different couiples, definitely a feast for the eye.

Well I hope that you have liked our 100th show. In fact we are planning to enter the podcast for the European Podcast Award. You will be able to register your support for the Absolutely Intercultural podcast at the award website. 

The next show will be coming to you on 22 Jnuary from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Australia.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Dino Nogarole

absolutely intercultural 96 +++ Cao Lei +++ Minhaaj Ur Rehman +++ China +++ Pakistan

hfutlogo

The two people we will be hearing from in this show have both come half way round the world to visit Europe and such a long distance seems to lead to very strong contrasts – not always in those aspects which you would expect. We’ll be hearing from Cao Lei, a biology lecturer from Heifi in China, here on her first visit to Europe.

We’ll also be hearing from Minhaaj Ur Rehman, from Pakistan, who recently arrived in Sweden to do an MBA even though he already has an MBA from Pakistan but apparently a foreign MBA will be much more impressive to any future employers back home. One of the major differences which was immediately apparent is the relationship between the students and their teachers. It’s often surprising to us who live here what people from outside the area notice so I had to smile when Minhaaj mentioned how considerate he found drivers in Sweden to be.

absolutely exhausted
When Cao Lei from China visited Europe recently she found that the Netherlands was very relaxing and peaceful in spite of it being one of the most densely populated countries in the world. But once she started to talk about the normal 18-hour school day in China for her 13 year old daughter I began to understand how much the visit to Europe must have represented a change of gear for her.

absolutely freezing
It is a cliché for a Brit like me to talk about the weather but the weather has certainly made a deep impression on Minhaaj Ur Rehman who came from Pakistan to do an MBA in Sweden and not in southern Sweden but in northern Sweden, Umeä where already in October the temperature was close to zero (centigrade that is). And it’s interesting that Minhaaj points out the lack of congestion and people as a plus, just as Cao Lei did.

absolutely spoiled for choice
If you don’t speak a language which uses script then you have probably never given a thought to the way in which a computer produces ideograms such as those used in Chinese and Japanese. So when Cao Lei from China visited us recently it was fascinating to watch how she could turn Chinese written with western letters into Chinese script using good old Word.

absolute double?
Minhaaj Ur Rehman is from Pakistan and already has an MBA so why is he in Sweden doing another MBA? Is this an absolute double? It turns out that even if you are reading the same books there are some very good reasons for re-doing the course and he gets to experience some very different approaches to education along the way.

By the way if you have any comments or suggestions you’re always welcome to contact us through our blog at www.absolutely-intercultural.com and leave a comment. We love following up on contacts or just reading about your reactions and experiences.

The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on November 27. So until then, stay tuned won’t you?

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox

Editor: Dino Nogarole