The drumming which starts the show was recorded when the Ghanaian drummers of African Footprint visited Grenaa earlier this year and they are to put you in the mood for learning an African language; the Yoruba language to be precise which is taught by Kole Ade-Odutola in Florida as part of the language fulfilment part of American university courses. We also hear from Minhaaj Ur Rehman who, if you remember from Show 96 has just arrived in Sweden from Pakistan to do an MBA. He talks about how environmentally aware the Swedes seem to be; this is good when talking about wise use of resources but maybe less so when talking about avoidance of conflict.
Kole who comes from Nigeria and is a true polymath with many different interests in media, poetry, literature, environmental activism and development which we will explore in later shows. First I was keen to explore more about his teaching of Yoruba in Florida. So be prepared to learn a little Yoruba in this first extract of our conversation. When I was editing the audio file for this piece it occurred to me to look at the pattern of the sound file as Kole was demonstrating the three different ways of saying ogun and the three sound waves do indeed look very different so I chose this as the graphic for this show’s blog entry.We start by finding out what brought him to the US in the first place.
absolutely environmental At the moment it is almost impossible to find a hotel room in Copenhagen because of the Climate Summit. Scandinavia does have a reputation for being environmentally aware and it was interesting that Minhaaj Ur Rehmen, who has just started a course in Sweden and comes from Pakistan, noticed this specifically. So what was it that caught his attention?
absolutely authentic Meanwhile back on Florida I wondered how Kole’s students could get opportunities to practice the language. How can you get absolutely authentic in Yoruba? So to find out more about what Yoruba sounds like you could go to www.abeokuta.org where you will find music, drama videos and some basic lessons in the language.
absolutely passionate If you heard two people talking to each other in loud voices you could assume that they were arguing and not getting on at all but depending on where you are you could be completely wrong! Our final segment is absolutely passionate and features Minhaaj in Sweden again and this time he talks about passion in conversations and where the Swedes score on that level!
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.
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.
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?
From Iceland to the 3D College to Chernobyl to Seattle.
In 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.
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.
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.
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.
This show has been recorded outdoors because everything seems to happen outdoors at this time of year in Denmark including cooking programmes on the TV as well as weather forecasts.
Don’t forget to add yourself to our Frappr map on the blog. It may be interesting for us to talk to Vox Appeal from Rennes in France for example, who says he’s interested in podcasting in or about minority languages.
This show will be about children because child-rearing norms are deeply culturally bound and serious problems can occur when parents from one culture rear their children in a different culture.
We hear from Collette Döppner who in an earlier show told us about her pregnancy in Germany as a Kenyan woman. Now that her child has been born, things have got no easier as Collette attempts to carry out the Kenyan tradition of sleeping with her baby. Her grandmother provides wise advice and support when the new family visit her in Kenya.
Collette has been able to work out what she wants in discussion with her husband but what happens when you are mother to the new Prince of Denmark, you come from Australia and Danish norms dictate that young children spend much of their time in kindergarten? The press has a field day for certain especially the Australian magazine Woman’s Day, but are Australian and Danish norms so far apart or is this just tabloid journalism? I talked to Michael Coghlan and Alison Waye in Adelaide to try and make some sense of this scandal.
Finally we talk about slightly older children of about 4 or 5 years old. Does it make a difference whether what they are attending is called a school or a kindergarten? This topic arose when I was talking to Ewan McIntosh about something else at the Reboot conference in May and I suddenly began to wonder if we weren’t talking at cross purposes. In the process you will hear what is surely the shortest curriculum in the world, the Scottish school curriculum which is summed up in eight words as ‘Successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors’. A succinct and positive note on which to end.
The next show will be coming to you from Germany on August 10th.
In this show we talk to some of the people who attended the Reboot 09 conference in Copenhagen in late May. Reboot traditionally focuses on the Internet and online applications and tends to attract businesses and programmers but it is far from as technical as it sounds. The theme of the conference was ‘Human?’ and touched on issues such as achieving the ideal work/life balance, integrating children into a career, what happens to your blog when you die and how can cyber organisations which belong to no physical location motivate people all over the world to fund their activities?
Absolutely Educational: ‘Universities should be a place where you get it wrong.’ As part of his French studies at university, Ewan McIntosh spent some time teaching English in a French university. How did his students, used to the traditional academic French approach, react when he cleared away the desks and asked them to rank their own performance?
Absolutely generous: ‘Cheques are still free in France.’ Delphine Ménard, a French woman living in Germany works for the Wikimedia Foundation whose projects include Wikipedia. She talks about how such an international organisation can reach out to different cultures to secure the funding they need to continue their work.
Absolutely ideal: ‘It’s not the most practical thing but it’s not hard at all!’ Fred Oliveira from Portugal has decided what his priorities in life are and explains how he has managed to set up a cutting edge company without needing to remain in the Bay area of California.
Absolutely expert: Our very own PodKarsten, Karsten Kneese was invited to speak on an expert panel at the Podcast Day in Cologne on June 20th. So make sure you tune into the next show on July 13 to find out much more about it.
In Absolutely Personal we talk to Greg Houfe who had two French internships almost twenty years ago as part of his degree in European Business Administration.
Looking back did he think working at Moët et Chandon benefited him? Would he now employ a former intern preferentially over someone who had not had this type of experience?
In Absolutely Linguistic I talked with Gwen and Mia, 12 and 9, who are bilingual in Danish and English. Does this affect their identity? Do they mix the languages up?
And finally in Absolutely Confidential I talked to Tony Fox who was caught out in a conference in Germany recently.
The Host of this show is: Anne Fox
This is the Greenlandic way of referring to the ptarmigan bird. So how realistic is it that someone working in Greenland will learn Greenlandic? Jens Nyeland worked for three years as a scientific advisor regarding the sustainable use of seabirds and talks about the difficulties of the Greenlandic language.
You couldn’t go anywhere.
Regitze Nyeland describing the effect of the Greenlandic winters which she otherwise
found very easy to live with. How did she fare with the Greenlandic language in her
job dealing with youth problems in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk?
Picture credit: The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Greenland by Jens Nyeland
The Host of this show is: Anne Fox
Welcome to the 10th show of ‘absolutely intercultural!’, which this time features three of our many different columns:
Absolutely Personal: ‘The streets have no name.’
How do you react when you first arrive in a culture which is completely different to the one you are used to? I talked to South African, Mark Anderson about the disorientation he felt when he went to work in South Korea and experienced for himself what is commonly termed culture shock.
He talks about being faced with a supermarket full of items which he could not recognise and this reminded me of the ice cream I bought in China in 2002 thinking it was strawberry or raspberry flavoured. The packaging is pictured. Can you work out what the main ingredient turned out to be?
‘I found these people extremely interesting – for many reasons, one of them being the sense of equality and egalitarianism that existed among them.’
There is a lot to be learned about different cultures without even travelling. Mark Anderson, brought up under the Apartheid system in South Africa, noticed straight away that the Danes that he met in his native Cape Town had a different way of relating to people than he was used to.
‘That was one of the major concerns before the project.’
How can a dating agency make a national impact on inter-cultural dialogue? This is a piece about one woman who had an inspired idea about how to initiate contact between the immigrant community in Denmark and the so-called liver paté Danes (this being the most popular topping for the Danish packed lunch). Listen to find out what the concern was and whether it was justified.
We hope you enjoy the show and tune in again on the 11th of August for show #11 from Germany.
In our last show we went east, and this time we are going north. The fourth show of ‘absolutely intercultural!’ is all about Scandinavia!
The show starts with “The Screaming Men of Finland”.
Right after that I asked Thomas Brevik from Bergen, Norway why he has two professional blogs? One in Norwegian and one in English? And if I had spoken in Danish and he in Norwegian, would we have understood each other?
What’s in a name? The law on names changed in Denmark recently so Trine-Maria Kristensen decided to change her name … or did she?
The show ends with a short piece about the living library, where you can not only borrow books…
Thanks to all of you for your numerous comments after the first show – we were overwhelmed by your response! In our second show we ask ourselves: Can intercultural awareness be taught in a classroom? Can it be taught in online courses?
We start by giving you some quotations from the 17 comments of feed-back on the first show. Fernando, a Spanish student who is doing his internship in Germany explains how surprised he was to hear Germans discuss different olive oils as if they were wines. Alexandra gives examples of how you can teach intercultural communication by facilitating intercultural experiences between participants of different countries. Ana shares her experience of an intercultural business simulation between her university and universities in Sweden and Lithuania.
And then we ask you, the listeners: Have you got any experience with intercultural classes? Perhaps even online? How can we gain intercultural awareness? In our gossip column Tommy from Denmark tells us how the Mohamed-cartoons crossed his holiday plans in Egypt and in our look at our favourite podcasts with cultural contents we hear about solar radio for coffee traders in Ruanda.