Last week I was in Belgium in the beautiful city of Leuven for the SIETAR Congress.
SIETAR stands for the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research and their biennial congress is a very friendly affair. Of course a Congress is always very diverse, forgive the pun, and in addition diversity was one of the main themes of the Congress this year so todays show is also very diverse.
If you are listening to this from our website then you will see a beautiful image of the gothic town hall of Leuven. This is where we had the opening reception to the Congress and this is also where we heard the mayor of Leuven, Mohamed Ridouani, give a very inspirational talk about what you can do at local level to make people feel valued and included. Unfortunately I did not ask him to be on the podcast but we do have an interesting variety of people for you in the next 25 minutes or so.
If you like the podcast then LIKE US ON FACEBOOK HERE!
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?
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.
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.
Today, Friday 11 June 2010, the world’s eyes are on the start of the Football World Cup in South Africa, in which people from so many different nations will meet each other and confront different cultures. Listeners across the world, please keep your fingers crossed that this World Cup in Africa will become a memorable intercultural event!
I must admit – I am not even a football fan, and certainly no specialist, but I thought I have to make an effort and speak about football today, about stereotypes, about cultural misunderstandings and linguistic challenges connected with big international events – not just football but also cultural events. I talked with people from Belgium, England and Spain, to see what kinds of experiences they have made in intercultural communication.
As you all know, today the Football world cup in South Africa starts and I’m sure that most of you can’t wait to see your favorite team win. Have you noticed that while we think of these international events are great intercultural meeting places, international football matches often give rise to a lot of terrible stereotypes? These are moments when fans dig deep and sometimes come up with very unpleasant clichés. English tabloids sometimes use war metaphors to describe the German teams in a contest. I called Jean, a friend of mine who moved from Manchester to Bonn years ago. In our first category she tells us how those terrible old stereotypes always come up again when there is an international football event.
Now, two days ago, I was very lucky and was able to get a personal interview with an incredibly interesting person. Frie Leysen is the Programme Director of the “Theatre of the World” Event and came to Cologne to share her vision of this great international event of performing arts with us. While many of us interested in intercultural communication try to reduce ambiguity by finding cultural explanations for differences and theories for coping with unwanted loss of orientation, Frie does the opposite. She invites more than 30 of the most interesting theatre productions to one location in order to force the audience to embrace ambiguity and misunderstandings.
Some time ago I met Marlen from Spain who had spent some time in Germany and she shared with us the cultural differences which exist between Spain and Germany. In our next category we’ll hear what experiences Marlen made with German men in the streets and how she learned to handle them.
Now let us come back to Jean, with whom I continued the football conversation about the psychological problems Germans used to have with their national pride after the war and the taboo of private flags. Now, this changed a lot during the World Cup in Germany in 2006 when at least the younger generations put these taboos behind them and behaved like youngsters all over the world. And now, before the world cup starts we can see this again. Suddenly, it seems acceptable to put a flag in your window or even on your car. In our last category Jean is divided whether flags and partiotism should be seen as right or wrong.
The next show will be hosted by Anne Fox in Denmark on 25 June