Welcome to Show 287 of Absolutely Intercultural coming to you from Denmark. My name’s Anne Fox and Denmark is where I have lived for almost thirty years. It is a small country of nearly 6 million people which has 8 universities. Compared to Germany’s 380, or the USA’s seemingly too many to count, but let’s settle for over 4000, eight Danish universities seems like a very small pool to choose from. So why would anybody come to Denmark for their university studies? This is what we’re going to find out in this show. We will be talking to Peter from South Africa who has a complex family history that is reflected in the languages spoken at home and Úlfar from Iceland who’s noticed something about Denmark.
In our first segment, “absolutely uncertain”, let’s find out how Peter came to Denmark, to study in Danish, after being brought up in South Africa and having done his schooling in German.
In our next segment, “absolutely engineered”, let’s hear from Úlfar, an Icelander who had limited options for his Masters back in Iceland and chose Denmark.
So maybe small is beautiful after all. Family history and colonial ties seem to count greatly in addition to any global ranking that Danish universities may also have. Just for information DTU is number 165 globally or, when we’re talking specifically engineering and technology, 3rd after Stanford and MIT, while Copenhagen is 107 globally. And Iceland has seven universities which is only one less than Denmark, but it’s something to do with size! What about you? Did you ever consider studying in a small country like Denmark? Get in touch, feel free to share your unique story with us here on the podcast.
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Our next show will be coming to you on 3 November from Laurent Borgmann in Germany.
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The sound we started with was an instrument made by Thomas Kubayi who sculpts, drums and plays music and who gave my daughter a sculpting lesson when my family stayed in the Limpopo region of South Africa last year. It just so happens that I am working with a South African partner in a European project, the Uni-Key project, so I was very excited to meet Marié-Tinka Uys on her home turf when she showed me round some of the many projects which abound in her region of South Africa which is centred on Hoedspruit just outside the famous Kruger National Gamepark. The UniKey project is about supporting university interns who choose to do their internship in small enterprises rather than the large well-known companies. This means that the interns have a better chance of working with the founder of the company and get a better feel for the entrepreneurial skills needed to run a company. Europe is starting to send interns outside the EU, for example to South Africa, and there are plans for promoting exchanges in the other direction too with South Africans able to do internships in Europe. The UniKey project has developed an online course for the interns to follow and what we needed from our South African partners was some feel for how well our online course would travel outside of Europe. For example when we talk about marketing and partnerships in the UniKey course, is our definition wide enough to encompass the African way of doing things? What about our definition of business even? Marcelle Bosch, a Dutch woman and former aid worker, has her sustainable tourism lodge business, Madi A Thavha where we stayed a few days. Can you make a living employing the former farm workers that gained their livelihood from the land that you just bought? I also spoke to Costas who works for a clinic supported by the farms, which in South Africa, are huge concerns employing thousands of workers who often live on site. This is very different to farming in Europe which is highly mechanized with very few employees. And while we in Europe depend on a universal health service paid for through taxation, South Africa is facing the HIV and Aids epidemic which affects mainly adults in their prime, so health projects are often centred around the workplace as in the case of the Bavaria farm I visited near Hoedspruit where the clinic is financed partly by the employers and partly by community efforts. We’ll also be hearing a new perspective on how to improve the status of women and how European experts can’t always cope with the differences they meet in the African context. Welcome to Melina, Akos and Omar who are the latest people to like our Facebook page.
So let’s start at Madi a Thavhi by seeing how we can be absolutely sustainable in the Limpopo region of South Africa on a former farm near Louis Trichardt or Makhado as the town is also known. And by the way, why towns have two names in South Africa is a whole other story which we could discuss on the Absolutely Intercultural Facebook page if you want to know more.
So that was an example of how to look after your employees in a small scale business and now you can hear the sound of my daughter having a go at sculpting wood with renowned local artist, Thomas Kubayi. While I was in South Africa I had the chance to discover that there is a wide range of community organisations working hard with the big employers to provide all sorts of health, education and other benefits for their employees. So this means that instead of local government or public sector provision, there is a much more local and volunteer based-coverage in South Africa. In the Hoedspruit area the two businesses I heard most about were the game lodges and the farms. So my next visit was to a clinic based on a fruit farm which treats mainly HIV and AIDs patients through the Hlokomela project. In speaking with Costas I learned that when you are HIV positive, a key indicator you need to look at are your CD4 levels and I also learned that, at least on this farm, the disease can be managed so that there are reasons to be absolutely positive!
As I was driven around the projects by Marié-Tinka Uys my eye was drawn to a set of murals painted on the wall of the Bavaria farm showing desirable male behavior such as not drinking and not using physical violence against your wife. When I asked Marié-Tinka about these she gave me a surprising solution about how to affect gender roles.
Marié-Tinka also talked about another part of the Hlokomela project which is an organic herb garden which has been started to supply the many game lodges in the Hoedspruit area. As we were talking she mentioned why interns should come alone and gave one example where the foreign expertise just could not cope with the differences experienced in South Africa.
Thanks to everyone who was willing to speak to me in South Africa and especially to Marié-Tinka Uys who introduced me to the wealth of activity going on in her area. She literally opened doors and gave me a peek into so much, which, as a tourist I would never have experienced. Thanks also to the UniKey project for giving me the opportunity to wonder about how people do business in other parts of the world. Who knows? This might even be the start of your own African internship adventure?
And if you want even more background as to broader issues behind what people were telling me about 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. You don’t pay any more to buy them through our store and every purchase contributes a little to the running costs of the podcast so if you’re thinking of buying, consider using our new store. There is a permanent link at the top of this blog page.
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
Leaving it all behind – Sabbatical year – Opera in Thailand
We reserve a special welcome to all our new listeners in Africa, South America and Asia. As you can see on our cluster map we are getting more and more hits from these parts of the world, and it’s great to have you with us on our little intercultural journey.
Well, it’s August, and at least in the northern hemisphere the holiday season is in full swing. “Holidays” – even when I only see the written word in an email message, it quickly seems to create pleasant pictures in my mind. I immediately think about beaches, mountains, islands and maybe you, too, you think about your favourite places? And, when you are on a holiday, don’t you sometimes develop fantasies about leaving you normal life behind and not going back? About getting away from it all for good? Or at least for a little longer than just a holiday? Well, in this episode we have interviewed three people who have done exactly that – but all in their different ways.
absolutely itchy feet
We will start with Jens Alderath, one of our very internationally mobile students, who first went to Australia for 8 month for his practical semester 2 years ago, then went to South Africa twice since he returned, after that spent some weeks in Austria and Ireland and is as we are speaking planning now to go back to South Africa after he will have finished his studies. Although he is only 23 years old, Jens seems to have become a “world citizen”, but what do his family and friends think about the constant series of farewells?
Alessandro from Italy tells us what brought him to the opera in Thailand three years ago and why his life has changed from heavy metal to classical music.
But what would happen if Alessandros job became so stressful and tiring that he wanted to take a longer break? Could he take a whole year off? Well, this is exactly what Ralf Klatt did. Ralf is a teacher, and he took a so-called “sabbatical year” to get away from his daily routine in school. He toured the USA for three month, with only one companion – his motorcycle.
Are you looking for realistic ways to improve your English and have some fun at the same time? Have you tried watching films in the original versions? Well, then this will strike a chord with you. Lisa Martin, one of our students here at the RheinAhrCampus, has come up with some great ideas.
The next show will be coming to you on the 24th of August from Anne Fox in Denmark.
We are still waiting for Zanele Khumalo from Cape Town in South Africa to get in touch as the winner of our Frappr map prize.
Absolutely National: And we stay in South Africa to hear from Mark Anderson in Pretoria who explains the classification system of the old apartheid system and the beliefs this led to. Mark also explains how the Zulu culture may not be as old as we might think.
Absolutely Yours: Our feature on image projection in show number 21 struck a chord with Fernando from Spain who sent us an audio comment about what led him to discard almost his entire wardrobe of clothes when he had an internship in Germany.
Absolutely Educational: Anne has difficulty pronouncing Katarzyna Kubacka’s name. Katarzyna is a student teacher in Poland who was known as Kate during her time as a classroom assistant in Grenaa. Katarzyna was financed under the Comenius programme of the EU. Katarzyna talks about the differences in approach and mentions one thing which she found particularly shocking.
Welcome to the 10th show of ‘absolutely intercultural!’, which this time features three of our many different columns:
Absolutely Personal: ‘The streets have no name.’
How do you react when you first arrive in a culture which is completely different to the one you are used to? I talked to South African, Mark Anderson about the disorientation he felt when he went to work in South Korea and experienced for himself what is commonly termed culture shock.
He talks about being faced with a supermarket full of items which he could not recognise and this reminded me of the ice cream I bought in China in 2002 thinking it was strawberry or raspberry flavoured. The packaging is pictured. Can you work out what the main ingredient turned out to be?
‘I found these people extremely interesting – for many reasons, one of them being the sense of equality and egalitarianism that existed among them.’
There is a lot to be learned about different cultures without even travelling. Mark Anderson, brought up under the Apartheid system in South Africa, noticed straight away that the Danes that he met in his native Cape Town had a different way of relating to people than he was used to.
‘That was one of the major concerns before the project.’
How can a dating agency make a national impact on inter-cultural dialogue? This is a piece about one woman who had an inspired idea about how to initiate contact between the immigrant community in Denmark and the so-called liver paté Danes (this being the most popular topping for the Danish packed lunch). Listen to find out what the concern was and whether it was justified.
We hope you enjoy the show and tune in again on the 11th of August for show #11 from Germany.