Together with Karsten Kneese and Fernando Reyero Noya, we continue to explore Geert Hofstede’s concept of Culture as the Software of the Mind. We discuss the aspect of cultural updates and how people need to adapt to new rules and behaviours due to changes in our society. Often they are brought about by changes in the law where as a result everybody around us starts behaving differently – for example after the smoking ban in public places. In fact, this update goes even further and there is a new word in the English language: “smirting”, which is a combination of “smoking” and “flirting”. This new behaviour pattern came with the non-smoking laws and allows a new kind of communication which lasts as long as a cigarette just outside the pubs. You wait until someone you would like to get to know in the pub gets up to have a cigarette and then join the person outside and use this 5-minute break together to get to know each other. Wikipedia has picked up this new trend and even describes the phenomenon of “passive smirting” as “the pastime for those who stand outside with friends or colleagues but do not actually smoke themselves.”
While most of the time we just react to updates and readjust our lives accordingly, some people actively open themselves to challenges and updates – for example by studying in another country in order to broaden their horizons. Aurora Mustonen from Finland is such a courageous person. She tells us how after her A-levels in Finland she decided that she wanted to move to England to do her bachelor’s degree.
It is amazing how such stays abroad do not only train our adaptability to other cultures but also seem to change our attitudes when we go back to our own cultures afterwards. This may be because we integrate successful pieces of behaviour which we learned and tested abroad into our home culture.
In our last category, we go on to another Finnish exchange student, Anna Moisio, a student at our University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz, who took part in a course called “International Business Simulations”. She soon found out that while this was called a “simulation” her managerial tasks as the CEO of the simulated company with branches in Lithuania, England, and Hungary had to be pretty “real”.
Anna explains to us how she had the opportunity to prove herself as the boss of an international company and was able to put into practice what she had learned about motivation and leadership in lectures and books, all within her experience at the foreign university setting. This experience was particularly important for her, as after completing her master thesis she plans to set up her own company. We wish her good luck for that!
The next show will be coming to you on 1 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.
In our show today we look at Geert Hofstede’s statement of “Culture as the Software of the Mind” and will try to explore that metaphor to the extreme. We will be asking ourselves how we get to learn about a piece of new software and whether this experience can really be transferred to learning about a new culture. What, for example, can be done in the classroom to raise the intercultural awareness of students who prepare for their stays abroad?
In a round-table discussion with Berit Wiebe and Karsten Kneese we asked ourselves: “Where do we get our culture from? Do we get if from our parents like a new version of Photoshop for Christmas? Or do we get it from our peers like we would get new software if we illegally shared a programme with our friends? Or does the cultural learning rather work like the spell check in Word, which learns from us and improves because of the way we use it and add new items to it?
Audrey Fernandez-Diehl, who was born in Malaysia, studied in Australia and New Zealand, lived in Switzerland for a while and now teaches intercultural communication at university level in Germany tells us about her concept of culture, whether she thinks culture can be taught and about a very disturbing cultural game called Rufa Rufa. As Audrey teaches intercultural awareness, she says that her training is both, for foreign students who come to her university but also for her own students who prepare for going abroad.
On this last day of Christmas I would like to say that Anne and I have enjoyed another year of being in intercultural contact with you, the listeners, through our show. We appreciate your response, please keep it coming. Now, if you have not made any new year’s resolutions yet, maybe you could share your thoughts about the shows a little more with the other listeners on this blog using the “comment”-function. This show has given Anne and me many opportunities for having conversations about intercultural topics with experts and ordinary people which otherwise we would probably not have had. So, the two of us would also like to thank you, the listeners, for keeping us going and looking at intercultural issues from different angles on a fortnightly basis.
The next show will be coming to you on 9 January from Anne Fox in Denmark.
Our ninth show is coming to you from London, so let’s have a look at our absolutely intercultural stations today.
In our last show we’ve talked about “culture as the software of the mind”, and we continue our discussion about viruses in our column ‘absolutely theoretical’.
Right after that Thomas tells us for our column ‘absolutely personal’ about an important update he and about 60 millions Britains didn’t get…the introduction of the Euro.
For our column ‘absolutely educational’ Laurent went to International House to meet Jack Lonergan. He follows up our question whether culture can be taught or not, and he gives some examples of how small adjustments can make a huge difference if we pay attention to the cultural needs of minorities.
We end the show with a completely new column: ‘absolutely incredible…but true’.
And to save the best for last, Laurent is going to sing for us! So please stay tuned and do not switch off before Laurent starts. =)
This episode comes from Portugal where we begin with a colourful street parade which includes a mass wedding.
We visit ELO SOCIAL, a place where disabled adults can work, rest and play and talk to Luisa, one of the staff..
The German station has noticed the many German flags flying on the occasion of the World Cup and ask themselves about the significance of national flags in different cultures.
Flags were also prominent in Portugal and we hear from Cristina Costa, a teacher of English at the Naval Academy of Lisbon about how she feels seeing all these flags.
My visit to Portugal was to work on the idea of how mentoring could help disabled people into the workplace. I talked to Nikolaos Floratos about the attitude of Greek employers to this idea as we walked around the palace at Sintra.
Next I talked to Vladimir Plesnik of Reintegra in the Czech Republic who had a good reason to welcome the idea of mentoring in his country.
The music was provided by Panteras Negras, the ELO SOCIAL rock band.
Welcome to the 7th episode of ‘absolutely intercultural!’.
After a round of feedback we continue our discussoin about “Culture as the software of the mind” in our column ‘absolutely theoretical!’. We talk about how we integrate updates into our daily lifes and will continue the next time with another aspect.
OK, and we couldn’t help noticing that there is something going on in Germany right now – The FIFA World Cup 2006, so the rest of this show is devoted to the game of all games!
For our column ‘absolutely personal!’ Anne interviewed John Brodie, a member of the tartan army, about a trip to Belarus he made last year and why he is cheering for the Togolese team right now in Germany.
Right after that we have a report of an eyewitness of the match Sweden vs. Trinidad & Tobago. Marie Nilsson from Sweden will let us sneak a peek into the stadium.
And for the last part of the show, which we might call ‘absolutely prepared!’, Laurent has interviewed Dr. Beate Blüggel, who works for the “Deutsche Volkshochschulverband” and who has organized the welcoming of millions of fans from all over the world in German trainstations.
We hope you enjoy the show. Please let us know what you think about it by leaving a comment here on the blog or by writing us an email. You are of course always welcome to send us an audiocomment and make suggestions on what we should talk about in our shows.
The show opens with a song but what is the language?
Translating the idea of software of the mind into practice, why not listen to today’s guest talking about the time she lived in a different country and note the tone of her voice when she talks about something which was obviously incompatible with her cultural programming. You may learn more about Icelanders than you do about Scotland which is where Icelander Gunnhildur Oskarsdottir spent three years.
After a little round of feedback the German station continues its discussion about the metaphor of culture as the software of the mind, and this time they focus on updates.
We finish with the Polar Bear podcast where you will always find out something new about Sweden in every episode. This extract comes from a special joint episode in March where Andy, the Polar Bear podcast host teamed up with Bruce of the Canadian Zedcast podcast and in which they compared notes about misconceptions about their respective countries.
In one of our first shows we asked the question: Can culture be taught? And apparently that struck a chord with many of you. We’ve been asked to follow that question up, and that is what we are going to do today.
We have two stimulating interviews with Elen Rana and Audrey Fernandez-Diehl, who give courses and seminars in intercultural communication. They will tell us their opinions and share some intercultural activities with us, which can be used to raise cultural awareness.
Right after that we talk about Geert Hofstede’s concept “Culture as the software of the mind”. It is amazing how many parallels there are between two seemingly so different things. We’ll have some more insights on that in our next shows, and we invite you to join the discussion by leaving a comment on our blog or sending us an email or an audiocomment.
We also have a new jingle, and we’d like to know how you like it. Would you like to hear your voice in it? Well, then please let us know.
By the way, this show is with 28 minutes a bit longer then the ones before, but it really is worth taking the time to listen to it.