absolutely intercultural 93 +++ culture shock +++ stereotypes +++ Carmel Vaisman +++ Samar Samir Mezghanni +++

peach and coconutEven if we expect differences when we travel or meet foreigners in our own countries – the best and most intensive intercultural learning is always accompanied by small culture shocks. Our show today will focus on the Anna Lindh Foundation and in particular two young, influencial bloggers from Israel and Tunisia who I met in Luxemburg at the bloggers’ meeting, so our main topic will be the “culture of blogging”. We will also hear about an American exchange student at RheinAhrCampus and her stereotypes about Germany. Oh yes, and we will be talking about peaches and coconuts!

absolutely confused
I met Erin from Texas and she told me about her experiences in Europe and why she suffered a culture shock or maybe several small shocks at the beginning. She noticed that we use very different street signs and traffic lights from the US and that we drive such tiny cars. But also, the everyday behaviour of people in the street struck her as rather different. When you meet Germans for the first time they don’t appear as friendly as Americans but once you have got to know them as friends it seems that you’ll never lose this friendship over time. Let us hear what emotions Erin had and how she confronted these confusing situations.

absolutely fruitful
As you heard, it takes Germans a little longer to “open up” to foreigners, whereas in the US it seems much easier to get in contact with people. Some intercultural scholars describe this well-known phenomenon in a comparison with the fruits, peaches and coconuts. “Peach-people” are all nice soft, smiling, and sweet on the outside and it is easy to get in touch with them and have a pleasant, initial conversation but afterwards you may hit a hard kernel in the middle and this seems almost impossible to penetrate. These people may be very friendly when you meet them as complete strangers, for example on public transport, but would perhaps not dream of letting you into their inner circle of friends or invite you to their family homes.
On the other hand you have the “Coconut-people” who have their hard and sometimes unwelcoming shell on the outside. So when you meet them for the first time they seem unfriendly and reserved. However, once you have penetrated that hard shell you will find out that they are much softer and sweeter on the inside.
Often Germans experience Americans as “peaches” and Americans see Germans as “coconuts”.

absolutely half baked
Now I’d like to introduce you to Carmel Vaisman, a communication scholar from Israel who I met at the bloggers’ training in Luxemburg. Carmel is a passionate blogger, very busy sharing her very interesting experiences in Israel and abroad with others in the world. Most recently we heard about her “find Lost”-experiences in Hawaii.

absolutely writing
I’ll present you another really astonishing young blogger Samar Samir Mezghanni from Tunisia. She has been writing children’s books since she was 10 years old – so at the time she was a child herself. What an interesting idea to publish children’s books written by other children who are barely older than themselves. This way Samar gained an entry into the Guinness book of world records as “Youngest Writer in the World” and two years later as “Youngest Most Prolific Writer in the World”. I had the privilege of meeting her in person and experiencing this bundle of energy. She told me about what kind of stories she writes about, what gave her the idea to write children’s books and how she became a blogger.

The next show will be coming to you on 16 October from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Dino Nogarole

absolutely intercultural 51 +++ Texas Part II +++ Friesenhaus +++ emigrating to Germany +++

Texan Cowboy Hats in Austin

With a number of intercultural stories and some music left from my Christmas trip to New Braunfels, Texas I somehow felt forced to produce a second show about the German Belt in Texas. The emphasis is on the reasons why Germans have emigrated to Texas and the reputation of Germans in the USA.

absolutely unlimited
People did not only emigrate in the 19th century as in our example in show 49, but also today many leave their homes and friends in the hope of better opportunities in the United States. Günther and Cornelia Dirks tell us how they went to Texas to put into practice their dream of opening a German restaurant called “The Friesenhaus” and why their philosophy of “Just do whatever you Dreams are” did not work for them back in Germany.

absolutely claustrophobic
Leaving Berlin during the Cold War, Klaus joined first the Canadian, later on the American Army to feel the freedom to move around. His wife Edith, still cooking and speaking German better than English just felt that Berlin with the wall around it was too claustrophobic, or “eng” as she likes to say.

absolutely unpronounceable
Laurent tells us how words like “Schleswig-Holstein-Schnitzel”, “Oma’s Haus”, or “Schlitterbahn” belong to the daily vobabulary of Texans and asks the owners of the restaurant if the Americans really like the Germans so much, that they use German stereotypes for their business.

absolutely un-German
Finally, there are, of course, also people who immigrate to Germany because they searched for a new challenge or just liked the idea of living there. Our studio guest Jean Lennox came to Germany in the 70ies and developed what she calls “a-long-time-love-and-hate-relationship”, staying somehow British, but also absorbing some of the best German characteristics. Will she go back when she retires?

The next show will be coming to you on 7 March from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

Host of this show: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron


absolutely intercultural 49 +++ Texas is a state of mind +++ American-German genealogy +++ travelling with Servas +++

rows and rows of Cowboy boots int a shop in Austin, Texasabsolutely Texas
Gosh – the internet seems to put not just the world, but also our family history, at our finger tips. I noticed this on my last trip to Texas. People from all over the world do research in the Sophienburg Museum and Archives to find their ancestors. A family of three generations in 2008 find their roots in New Braunfels. Volunteer organisations help us to travel the world with a “very restricted budget”.

absolutely unbelievable
Laurent tells us about an unbelievable coincidence he witnessed during his stay in Texas. An American family of three generations makes a trip to an immigration museum in New Braunfels between Austin and St. Antonio to do some research with the help of an old photograph which shows their family house. To everybody’s astonishment this turns out to be the very house the director of the museum lives in. All this unfolds while the microphone is running …

absolutely Texan-German
Linda Dietert, a true “Texan-German” tells us about the history of the Texas settlers in the 1850s. Their descendants, some of whom still speak some German after all these generations, are often happy to talk about their background in the “old world” and keep up some of the old traditions such as sausage-making . But of course a Texan “Bratwurst” does not have the same taste as its German relatives – and why should it?

absolutely hospitable
Agnes tells us about the “Hospitality Club” where you can find places to stay for your next journey if you cannot afford to pay for accommodation on your travels. Adelheid Korpp provides detailed information about “Servas” a non-profit organization which also puts you in contact with hosts around the world and she shares her experiences with us. We hear about hosts who give out their keys to guests whom they have never seen before or offer their own cars instead of telling you where to rent one. This Servas-spirit of sharing is meant to “foster new insight, knowledge and tolerance of others”.

The next show will be coming to you on 8 February from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The hosts of this show are: Dr. Laurent Borgmann and Agnes Dus
Editor: Mathias Knops