Today is April 29th 2011 and is one of those rare days when an amazingly high percentage of people in the world will be watching scenes from the same event; the wedding in the UK of Prince William and Kate Middleton, so thank goodness for podcasts which can be enjoyed at any time which means that this 134th show of Absolutely Intercultural need not lose out to this international phenomenon. It’s a bit ironic that while the institution of monarchy is in retreat all over the world this event should attract such huge attention. But I think that I may be confusing monarchy with celebrity.
My name’s Anne Fox and this show is coming to you from Denmark where the two major TV channels will both be transmitting the Royal Wedding most of the day! Enough! This show is going to concentrate on another international phenomenon but in this case one which has the potential for improving the lives of many people. We will be re-visiting the University of the People which offers free university tuition to people who, for a variety of reasons, could otherwise never hope for a college education. As we find out more about this very different route to a university degree we will eavesdrop on everyday life in Haiti where the University of the People is making extra efforts to support their students there.
Even though most people in the world don’t experience going to university directly, most would have a picture in their minds about what this means. So I imagine that picture would include spending three to five years at a campus, attending lectures, buying a pile of books and maybe taking a part time job perhaps? Financially it might be a struggle as more and more universities are forced to charge fees; up to £9000 per year in England for example. It often also means leaving home and living in halls of residence or digs. But what if someone comes along who has a very different idea about what going to university looks like? Such a person is Shai Reshef, an entrepreneur whose big idea is to make a university education much more accessible by offering free online tuition using open source materials from elite universities such as Harvard and MIT through what he has called The University of The People. We first met Shai Reshef on Absolutely Intercultural in Oct 2009 and I was keen to find out how the project is going. Often on Absolutely Intercultural we are looking at the reactions of people confronted by different norms than they are used to. What Shai Reshef is doing is trying to produce a new norm, a new culture about what a university education looks like which seems to me to be an interesting social experiment.
In the normal way of things Shai Reshef rarely gets to meet any of the UoP students but the University of the People has a special project in Haiti where it is not enough just to offer free tuition over the Internet in a location which has been devasted by an earthquake. In this segment we’ll find out what else is needed to give people in Haiti the opportunity of a university education.You can see the video together with others from the same visit on the University of the People’s YouTube channel. So what do you think about this new approach to getting a college education? If you’ve been to college yourself would you have considered getting your degree in this way? You can add your comments to this blog.
Don’t forget to send in any examples of racism due to visible differences for our next show which will be coming to you from Dr. Laurent Borgmann in Germany on 13th May
So long … stay tuned!
The host of this show is Anne Fox : Editor: Markus Scherer