December – in the north of Europe this means Christmas trees, mulled wine, lots of snow and if you are lucky you may spot the odd reindeer. In our show today I asked how my guests celebrate Christmas in Australia, England, Germany, Singapore and Eritrea but also how people formulate their New Year’s resolutions in different cultures.
Christmas celebrations differ around the globe but typically involve gatherings of family and friends and indulging in rich and glorious food and drink. When talking about Christmas, everyone seems to have their own ideal view of what “Christmas” should be all about, which, however, varies greatly from country to country. For me, as a child, Christmas meant spending the holy evening with my family, singing traditional, often gloomy German Christmas songs, remembering previous Christmases and excitedly anticipating the moment where I get to un-wrap my gifts. For the last 25 years, I have been abroad in different countries for that period of year, experiencing different intercultural traditions. I have been fortunate enough to meet people from all around the world and hear about how they spend their festive night.
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Moving to a foreign country may require special preparation to get along with different cultural conventions in your new environment. If you are trained to pay attention to intercultural details, you will discover many differences during your stay abroad. Have YOU ever had an intercultural experience where you have felt as if you had been thrown into the cold “intercultural” water? Perhaps a situation which made you wish you had taken an intercultural preparation class – to be better prepared for situations like that? Actually, there are so many different cultures with so many different conventions, which can never be taught in one single classroom. So, we asked ourselves, how can we achieve intercultural “awareness” and be well- prepared for such varied situations?
In previous episodes we heard a lot about intercultural experiences of exchange students who have come to Europe. They told us about some intercultural incidents which had shocked or embarrassed them in their new surroundings. However, we never asked ourselves how these students could prepare themselves interculturally, so that these painful situations could be softened or even avoided? Let us listen to Domas, who points us to an opportunity for intercultural preparation by using an online learning-platform called Keenjar
Many people expect that they will pick up intercultural differences naturally while they are in the new culture but if you have a theoretical framework before you go you might do a much better job interpreting all the new impressions?
Let us listen to Collette. She is a moderator of an online intercultural preparation course, in which students who go to different European countries for their practical training share their intercultural experiences. Collette, herself, had to do without such training when she moved from Kenya to Europe and it felt to her as if she had been thrown into the cold water. This is why she now appreciates intercultural preparation instead of learning the hard way.
On Collette’s course, sharing one’s practical experiences with other people who are in similar situations is the way forward to developing an intercultural awareness that helps us master new intercultural situations.
Audrius is going to give us some more details about how the online school works. Learning something new in a group with people from different cultures can be a very powerful intercultural stimulant. This could happen either in a physical classroom or, as in the case of Keenjar, in an online environment, where the teacher is in one country and the students are contributing their experiences from different geographical locations world-wide.
The festive season is round the corner and wherever you are in the world and whatever religion is predominant in your country, there is still a good chance that we will all be listening to “Jingle Bells” from the radio one of these days. Do you celebrate Christmas in your country? Will it be a white Christmas – or will you, like me, have a day off on the beach? We asked ourselves what kind of present we could make to our audience in such diverse cultural settings at the end of the year? And we are happy to say: we found the perfect intercultural present.
Dr. John Cressler is going to give us some information about his historic novel called “Emeralds of the Alhambra” which tells the story of an intercultural Love Story involving Christians, Jews and Muslims…
Would you like to share with us your own intercultural experience in foreign countries? If so, we would be delighted to hear both positive and negative experiences, so don´t hesitate and share your intercultural experiences with it with us on our Facebook Page.
Our next show will be coming to you on 3rd January from Anne Fox in Denmark.
Happy New Year and welcome to Absolutely Intercultural. In 2010 we won the European Podcast Award thanks to your votes and right now I’m busy listening to a really diverse set of podcasts as judge in the 2011 round of the award. Thanks to you all for your votes then and thanks for still being with us as we reach another landmark with this 150th show.
Tourism is a huge industry but if you want to promote tourism to your country it is a good idea to find out how people perceive it first. And how better to do that than to use pictures? What does the name Nunavut mean to you? If I tell you that Nunavut is a country would you know where it was? If I tell you that it is in Arctic Canada do you suddenly have some pictures in your mind about what it might be like? I must admit that I had never heard of Nunavut until I came across Maarten Loonen’s interesting survey. Maarten is a biologist from the Netherlands and most likely to be seen in arctic regions working on geese so when I heard he was interested in people’s reactions to images I was intrigued as to why. As you heard Maarten is very interested in getting more responses to his survey in the next couple of months and when he has had time to analyse the results I will go back and find out what he discovered. You can find the link to his online survey here.
I’ve just returned to work from my Christmas break which is of course a big and long celebration in Europe, North America and elsewhere, but not everywhere. Would you miss Christmas if you went to live somewhere else? We’re going to get a short update from Rebecca Chadwick who is in India for a year long film skills course. Having experienced 18 Christmasses in the UK will she miss it or be glad to avoid the tinsel and corny Christmas songs for once?
Our next piece reminded me a little about the Iraqi youth orchestra which we featured last year. I was contacted by Paul Suhr who is a member of the band Alma Desnuda meaning naked souls. Alma Desnuda had just completed an amazing project together with Tara J King in which they recorded a song and video with children from all over the world. This is the type of project which you just could not have conceived of not so long ago but which accessible Internet and cheap online communication tools makes entirely possible. I think that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the types of rich connections we can make in a connected world and that creative people are going to find all sorts of different ways to get us talking to each other in the very near future. The project is called Rock our Worldand the song Life we Got, is a celebration. I know that it’s a cliché to say that underneath it all we’re all the same but I think that the beginning of a new year is a good time to celebrate what unites us rather than what divides us. We’re going to hear from Paul firstly about how his band came about and then about how you compose and record a song with the help of 2000 children from all over the world. You can buy the song on iTunes (proceeds go to the Rock Our World organisation) and don’t forget to go and see the video!
Today is the 24th of December – this means Christmas trees, mulled wine, lots of snow recently, and if you were lucky you may have spotted the odd reindeer. In our show today I asked how my guests celebrate Christmas in Australia, Hungary and Germany but also how people formulate their New Year’s resolutions in different cultures.
Our exchange student and podcast enthusiast Lucy Warren talks to Barbara Neukirchen, who is responsible for the outgoing students from RheinAhrCampus, Remagen. Lucy is interested in how Barbara celebrates Christmas time and whether this could be seen as typical for Germany. In our first category Barbara tells Lucy on which days Germans celebrate Christmas and how they celebrate the count-down to Christmas.
Have you thought about your New Year’s resolutions? For example stop smoking or drinking less alcohol? Or losing a couple of pounds by going to the gym regularly? I asked Beatrice about her resolutions and she explained to me the difference between positive and negative ones. In our second category we listen to Beatrice’s view about New Year’s resolutions.
I put together a round table with Lucy from Australia, Emese from Hungary and Andreas from Germany. All of them shared their typical customs and Christmas traditions from their families with me. Of course this does not mean that everybody in their culture celebrates in the same way – sometimes this may be just the culture of that particular family or region. Let us listen to very different experience which range from Christmas on the beach to Advent Calendars.
Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 07. January 2011
The Team of “absolutely-intercultural” wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for supporting us!
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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?