When we first got a mail about the University of the People I thought I had better just check and the more I investigated, the more I realised that I hadn’t been able to recognise this initiative for what it was because it is so unique and visionary. And as I have found several times, over the last 3 years, I realised that this was the product of one person’s strong vision to do what they can to overcome disadvantage and misunderstanding. So this show is mainly about Shai Reshef and the free tuition online university he has founded in order to make higher education accessible to anyone with a high school diploma. This is an offer open to anyone, anywhere in the world.
absolutely accessible The world needs educated people but universities are expensive. Shai Reshef, an Israeli entrepreneur, is trying to do something about this by harnessing the power of the Internet, social networking and Open Source educational materials to provide free tuition and low cost examinations through his University of the People. I asked him first to describe his background to see if there were any clues there as to why he had come up with this idea.
The tuition is free but there are still some costs which need to be covered. So we hear a little more about the costs of attending the University of the People and how it works in practice. There is a lot more about the university and how it operates if you go to their website.
absolute role model A few months back we had a request from Debbie Swallow in the UK of 4c International to suggest the names of some celebrities who could be deemed intercultural ambassadors. Well when I talked with Debbie about her main work a few weeks back I reminded her about her request and asked if any good suggestions had come forward. We should probably add Shai Reshef to that list now but at the time we talked, the University of the People had yet to open. So we’ll be hearing which other names cropped up.
Debbie originally left a comment on our blog so if you have any comments or suggestions you could tell us what you think at the bottom of this post. As I mentioned at the beginning, we found out about the University of the People when they sent us an email so that’s how the podcast works.
Welcome to show number 92 of Absolutely Intercultural. The podcast which brings you news and views, hints and tips about cross-cultural communication. My name’s Anne Fox and this show is coming to you from Denmark. My main guest today is Debbie Swallow in the UK who has a lovely way of explaining how she first became aware of cross-cultural issues when everything she had learned in business school became ‘seasick’ when she tried to transfer it to Finland.
absolutely English: Over the years we have talked to many experts about various aspects of intercultural communication but one thing I hadn’t thought about before was how you get into this line of work. Debbie Swallow, based in the south of England, helps people improve their presentations for international audiences but finds it much easier to sell her services to non-English speaking clients than native speakers who tend to have the attitude ‘well everybody speaks English don’t they?’ So let’s hear how Debbie started in the business. After revealing how she started in the business Debbie talks about how difficult it is to sell inter-cultural training in English speaking contexts.
This next piece is bound to upset some of you. It certainly upset a great many people in Denmark. What you’re about to hear is the audio track from a You Tube video. All I will say for now is that although this story sounds authentic, it is completely fake. The challenge for you is to decide what the purpose of putting such a story up on You Tube would be.
The reason this video caused such discussion is that it was made by the official Danish tourist organisation, Visit Denmark, and was meant to attract foreigners to take a holiday in Denmark. Many people argued that it was a completely misleading and offensive portrait of Denmark while others argued that this viral video had been a clever and innovative marketing ploy, witness that I am re-distributing it here. My own view is that this video must be extremely offensive and off-putting to many cultures around the world.
It is certainly a challenge to represent a country’s culture avoiding the usual clichés about sandy beaches and good food but I somehow don’t think this was a good alternative. Why not be constructive and suggest ways in which your own country’s culture could be portrayed while avoiding the clichés as a comment to this post?
absolutely presentable: In our final piece we re-join Debbie Swallow of 4c International Ltd and hear how she helps people tailor their presentations for different audiences. I guarantee that you won’t get any tips on voice projection or making better powerpoint slides. Instead, listen out for the 10 factors to take account of when you are making a presentation to an audience from a different culture.
The next show will be coming to you from Laurent Borgmann in Germany on the second of October when he will be bringing you the final report from the Euromed Bloggers meeting in Luxemburg so stay tuned!
So long…stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Dino Nogarole
This week on different days depending on the different election rules there are elections all over Europe to elect members of the European parliament. Since when has there been the United States of Europe I hear you ask? Well no there is no such thing as the USE but we do have the 27 member European Union which many years ago decided to inject this organization with more directly accountable democracy by having a European Parliament. The sad thing is that people don’t seem to have any European identity and the results will simply be a reflection of national politics in each country with a lot of easy protest voting because of the perception that the result doesn’t matter. What we need here in Europe is a good dose of cultural intelligence maybe! So we’ll concentrate on that in this show.
In the last show we heard about a practical illustration of the way in which you can be actively culturally intelligent and this phrase is obviously very attractive because it is not only being used by Elisabeth Plum here in Denmark who I talked with in my last show but also by an organization calling itself the Cultural Intelligence Center in the US. But the Cultural Intelligence Center do not use the phrase Cultural Intelligence in exactly the same way as Elisabeth Plum. So I talked to David Livermore to find out more. So what is the difference between the CIC and the Danish brand of cultural intelligence? It turns out that the answer is a fourth critical strategy factor in addition to Plum’s three of action, knowledge and emotion. In fact David Livermore has just finished writing a book about how his brand of cultural intelligence can be applied to business situations. Called ‘Leading with Cultural Intelligence – the new secret to success’ it will be published in October. Click on the David Livermore link to find out more.
absolutely cross border:
It turns out that there are a couple of self-assessment quizzes on the CIC website, which confusingly has the web address culturalq.com, and I wanted to know how useful these might be. So to test one of these out I recruited Greg Houfe in the UK who may shortly be starting a project in Denmark to see how culturally intelligent he was prior to working with Danes and Norwegians. What score would he get?
‘Can you help? I’m in need of a list of well-known people (perhaps known in their own cultures even if not internationally) who we would consider as having cultural intelligence. I want to cite them as being role models.’
Well I thought about this and it turned out to be a very difficult question. In the end I thought that famous people were likely to be the people who least need to be culturally intelligent because we tolerate all sorts of eccentricities of our celebrities whether they be politicians or film stars. In fact politicians tend to be overly nationalistic while film stars such as Elisabeth Taylor have a reputation for being very demanding as they travel around. So there’s the challenge. Can you think of anybody who is well known, at least in your country, who you would rate as culturally intelligent? The only suggestion I could come up with was … don’t laugh now … Ray Mears, the survival expert. Why? Because for him survival means being acutely aware of your environment and where that includes people, he tends to make an effort to find out about them and interact with them. You surely must have a better suggestion than this! And if you do then please add it as a comment to this post.
The next show will be coming to you on 12 June from Germany.
So long…stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Jan Warnecke