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.
In this show we’ll be finding out about the work of intercultural trainers. Did you know there was an organisation for intercultural trainers? It’s the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research and if you go to their website at SIETAReu.org you’ll find lots of useful information and links for intercultural trainers there. We’ll be hearing from Matthew Hill about the importance of the biennial SIETAR conference which took place in Cracow, Poland at the end of September.
So let’s start the show by hearing from Matthew Hill, based in the UK, who is an intercultural trainer. I was interested to find out what that involved.
What sort of experiences do expatriates have? Laura Dombernowsky, of Aarhus University interviewed some of the current Chinese students studying there to find out how they were finding Denmark. My thanks to Laura for allowing us to feature part of her interviews. You can see the whole film on YouTube with subtitles. Laura is currently in Bejing as part of her journalism PhD so I hope to catch her when she returns in January and hear about her experiences.
While I was talking with Matthew Hill, of Hill Networks, I had the impression that the business is dominated by independent freelancers so how do they find out what’s new in their field? Well one way is to attend conferences such as the Congress recently held by Sietar in Poland. What benefits are there from attending? Matthew Hill explains what happens at the conference.
Matthew Hill was not just a delegate but also a presenter at the conference. His session centred on what intercultural skills you need when presenting a webinar to an intercultural audience. Of course one of the key factors is the language that you use. Matthew’s whole talk is on YouTube but you can hear a snippet on this show about the importance of language in webinars. One of Matthew Hill’s latest projects is a CD about managing intercultural conflict. The CD will take you through a process lasting about an hour after which you’ll end up with a plan for managing conflict. So if you’re interested in finding out more about that you should email Matthew Hill at this address, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Are you intelligent? one of our listeners, Dennis Jim Frederiksen wanted to know in February. Well he didn’t ask the question directly, but he did suggest that we take a look at the work of Elisabeth Plum who has come up with a new way of looking at intercultural differences and how to overcome them. She calls this cultural intelligence. So this show is about a new way of looking at the issue of intercultural competence.
We’ll also be hearing from Barry Tomalin, kicking off an exciting new European project called Diversity in Europe at Work, on why human rights has become part of the cultural landscape.
Why did Plum think we needed a new theory of culture? Ignoring the many aspects of diversity means you fall back on stereotypes according to Plum so how do you become culturally intelligent?
So how does this translate into practice? When you meet with Russians, you should find out about Russian culture, right? Or maybe we shouldn’t!
The idea that we shouldn’t focus on just one aspect was also the theme of Barry Tomalin’s talk to the ICC conference in Florence, Italy a couple of weeks ago. Tomalin is Director of Cultural Training at International House in London and was at the conference to present a new project called Diversity in the European Workplace or DEW for short, which is preparing some exciting intercultural training materials based on critical incident methodology. Tomalin started by talking about the different aspects of diversity which you typically find in a European workplace. These he called the 7 – ‘isms’. Watch out for an explanation of the Somali worker mystery at the end. The recording comes courtesy of Carl Dowse who does intercultural training as part of his Business English courses in Germany and I hope to be talking to him in more detail about his approach in a later show.
Well let’s return to this idea of cultural intelligence. It is clear that the concept relies on the interplay of 3 factors, emotion, cognitive, action or what you feel, what you know and what you do. We hear how Elisabeth Plum explains the three factors.
So what do you think? Is this an idea that would help you in your intercultural encounters? You could let us know by leaving a comment here If you want to find out more about cultural intelligence then go to Elisabeth Plums blog where you can find details of her book and an article explaining the basic concepts of cultural intelligence. You may have heard Elisabeth mention that the phrase cultural intelligence is also used by a research group in the US in a slightly different way. So we will try and follow up on that so that we can see how the ideas compare. Well I hope that you are now a little more culturally intelligent. If not then you’ll just have to come back for more on May 15th when Laurent Borgmann hosts the next show from Germany.
The next show will be coming to you on 15th May Germany.
So long…stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Jan Warnecke