The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

Cross Culture Kids

Cross Culture Kids



I recently attended the 11th annual Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference – an idea which was first planned at a kitchen table in Indianapolis.

That kitchen table belonged to author and Cross-Culture Kid (CCK) expert, Ruth van Reken. The first conference attracted 80 delegates but this year's boasted over 200.

Almost half were first-timers, drawn from a mix of military, corporate, missionary, education and diplomatic backgrounds. Many were in the business of providing relocation services and support to transitioning families. Many were part of those families.

FIGT is always an uplifting experience and this year, though the conference was in Houston, Texas, it was testament to the global reach of the organisation that each of the plenary sessions included one person living in Europe. The three-day conference also offered more than 40 break-out sessions to choose from.

Child psychologist Doug Ota, who heads up a world-leading transitions programme at the American School of The Hague (ASH), opened the conference with a keynote speech focusing on how grief impacts on the lives of those who roam the globe.

"Grief is a messy, backward and forward process," he explained, as he shared his experience of growing up with a Japanese father and British-origin mother in California. He spoke of his loss of identity; the loss of his colleagues, friends, and even his brother, during the 16 years he has lived in the Netherlands with his Dutch wife.

Read more > Telegraph
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Documentary Series on ‘Reverse Migration’

Documentary Series on ‘Reverse Migration’


Does the country of your parents’ or grandparents’ birth fascinate you? Would you consider moving there for a better standard of living?

Britain may once have seemed like the land of opportunity, but now, with the downturn in the economy, thousands of British born people are leaving for the promise of a better life where their families came from originally – in countries like India, Africa, China, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.

In Bangalore alone, the southern Indian IT city, more than 40,000 Indian IT professionals are estimated to have arrived back from the US and UK to take up work. There are exciting career and business opportunities for people with western education and experience, and there is a growing trend of ‘Reverse Migration’ to many countries from the UK.

Ricochet, the makers of Channel 4's 'No Going Back' and “Super Nanny” are producing a new TV series that follows this trend for a new documentary series.

Four 2nd or 3rd generation British families will be given the opportunity to 'road test' a new life in the country of their parents or grandparents for several months, to find out about jobs, schools and housing. They might like it so much; they decide they want to stay.

If you and your family are thinking about making such a move, or have always wanted to find out what life would be like where your parents or grandparents come from; then please contact us on the following:

Call: 01273 224 816
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: www.Ricochet.co.uk

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2008/2009 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees

2008/2009 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees


The number of employees on international assignments has doubled over the last three years as part of the continuing trends towards globalisation, forcing employers to rethink their benefits provision.

Mercer’s 2008/2009 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees found that 47% of firms have increased deployment of staff on traditional expatriate assignments, and 38% had increased numbers of staff on 'nomadic' assignments.

It found that the growing expatriate culture has led 86% of respondents to consider their benefits package for expatriate staff as a medium or high business priority, with only 26% of organisations admitting to having no overarching policy for providing expatriate benefits.

Robert Lockley, principal in Mercer’s international business, said: “Establishing an international policy is essential to stay competitive, maintain geographical consistency and control costs. Even against a backdrop of economic uncertainty there is still competition for the best talent. Companies that are lax in this area will loose out.”

In terms of benefits on offer, the majority (68%) of companies surveyed keep their expatriates in host or home country retirement schemes. However, 32 percent of companies offer international retirement plans - an increase from 23 percent in 2005. Close to three-quarters (73 percent) of companies with an international plan restrict eligibility to certain expatriates who cannot be kept in the home or host plan.

Read more > Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees
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Cross-cultural competence

Cross-cultural competence (3C), another term for inter-cultural competence, has generated its own share of contradictory and confusing definitions, due to the wide variety of academic approaches and professional fields attempting to achieve it for their own ends. One author identified no fewer than eleven different terms with some equivalence to 3C: cultural savvy, astuteness, appreciation, literacy or fluency, adaptability, terrain, expertise, competency, awareness, intelligence, and understanding (Selmeski, 2007).

Organizations from fields as diverse as business, health care, government security and developmental aid agencies, academia, and non-governmental organizations have all sought to leverage 3C in one guise or another, often with poor results due to a lack of rigorous study of the phenomenon and reliance on “common sense” approaches based on the culture developing the 3C models in the first place (Selmeski, 2007).

The U.S. Army Research Institute, which is currently engaged in a study of the phenomenon, defines 3C as: “A set of cognitive, behavioral, and affective/motivational components that enable individuals to adapt effectively in intercultural environments” (Abbe et al., 2007). Cross-cultural competence does not operate in a vacuum, however. One theoretical construct posits that 3C, language proficiency, and regional knowledge are distinct skills that are inextricably linked, but to varying degrees depending on the context in which they are employed. In educational settings, Bloom’s affective and cognitive taxonomies (Bloom, 1956; Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1973) serve as an effective framework to describe the overlap area between the three disciplines: at the receiving and knowledge levels 3C can operate with near independence from language proficiency or regional knowledge, but as one approaches the internalizing and evaluation levels the required overlap area approaches totality.

Read more > Multi-National Multi-Cultural Collaboration 
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Corporate support for the Third Culture Kid (TCK)

The good news is that organisations can provide services that facilitate successful adjustments. The cost of sending an employee and family on international assignment is substantial. For a minimal additional investment, corporations can provide pre- and post-assignment cross-cultural development programmes that reduce the stress of the move and meet the family’s needs. Specifically, such programmes help the family to understand the leaving process, the new culture(s), how to conduct themselves (socially, in business, and in daily life) more effectively in the new location, and how to manage culture shock and adjustment.

Cross-cultural programmes offer knowledge and support to the third-culture child. Many relocation companies contribute to the family’s international success by offering packages and programmes to the new assignee and family.

It is up to employers to promote the value of this to employees and their families, and to encourage them to make time for the training in the hectic schedule of an overseas move.

The employer’s organisation needs to support all the family members through the adjustment phase, which can take up to 18 months. The follow-through and tracking after the move is very important. Counselling services, coaching, mentoring, and, ultimately, a repatriation programme are other valuable options for third-culture children and their families.

Read more > TCK 
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Intercultural Cities Conference 1-3 May 2008 Liverpool

Intercultural Cities Conference 1-3 May 2008 Liverpool

An official UK event for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008





In the cities of today and tomorrow, how can people from different cultures really live together - rather than just rub along side one another?
As part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, the Intercultural Cities Conference, will look at migration, diversity and urban life in a fresh way.  New thinking is needed on how diverse communities can co-operate in productive harmony instead of leading parallel or antagonistic lives.

The conference is organised by EUCLID and Comedia, in association with the Liverpool Culture Company, and with the support of the European Commission and the Council of Europe.

Taking place in this year's European Capital of Culture the conference will not only provide an opportunity to look at how different cultures can live together but how mixing can be turned to economic, social and cultural advantage - key issues particularly for those responsible for planning and regeneration, the local economy, community cohesion, education and the cultural services.

The three day event  will feature various European and international speakers, such as globalisation guru Saskia Sassen, the world authority on diversity and city planning Leonie Sandercock, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, who says it is time to rethink multiculturalism, city leadership expert Carol Coletta, Keith Khan who leads the campaign to make the London 2012 Olympics an unprecedented intercultural festival, and leading European city politicians including Ilda Curti and Pascale Bonniel Chalier.

The conference format will break with convention in pursuit of maximum interaction between delegates and speakers.  There will also be the opportunity to get out into Liverpool to see some examples of intercultural dialogue and delegates can also choose from various extra activities, such as a dinner at Anfield, the home of Liverpool Football Club, featuring comedian Shazia Mirza.

Full details can be found at http://inter.culture.info/icc including the early bird booking fee, only available until 31 March
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Expatriate cultural coaching improves performance

High Expectations

Most people believe that international assignments are easy and "first-time" expatriates always start off with an excited and optimistic attitude. On the receiving end in the host foreign company, the managers and other employees have high expectations for the newcomers who bring new skills and insights. Although most of these employees have never been on an international assignment, they usually expect an expatriate to immediately perform as valuable experts. They anticipate that these new arrivals will adjust, make decisions rapidly and maneuver across cultures with ease. Most simply expect the expat to get to work immediately and to perform better than others.

 

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Understanding the transcultural consumer

Press Release, San Francisco, CA, January 06, 2008 :

“The more than 100 million multicultural consumers in the US, are not just multi-colored or multi-lingual but cross-cultural and transcultural as well. They are rapidly evolving and challenging the definition of “ethnic” or “multicultural” marketing,” says Valerie Romley, Chief Research Officer and author of "Beyond Translation; The Marketer's Field Guide to Understanding Today's Transcultural Consumer".

“What was effective yesterday is no longer relevant and what is effective today may not resonate with tomorrow’s moving targets. It’s time for marketers to go beyond relying on translation and color and language based segmentation and understand the roles that culture and context have in influencing beliefs and attitudes and driving consumer behavior.”

Read more> Beyond Translation 
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Language and Culture are issues for midwives

Language and Culture are issues for midwives
The UK's population is growing. Part of that increase is fuelled by women from other countries having children here.

And as the Local Government Association (LGA), representing 400 councils in England and Wales, outlines to a House of Lords select committee how migration stretches community services, one midwife tells how the changes affect her.


For midwife Jayne Cozens, going to work these days is also becoming something of a geography lesson.

She has worked in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, for 12 years, and her caseloads are containing increasing numbers of foreign nationals from across the globe.

Language and culture are becoming more of an issue, as Mrs Cozens' job becomes ever more multi-cultural and multi-lingual.

"It can be a challenge explaining to a 17-year-old English girl what an amniocentesis is, let alone to a teenager from abroad who doesn't speak the language," she says.

There are cultural issues, too, which midwives must handle in the course of giving their advice to non-UK nationals.

"Chinese families tend to sleep together in the same room and the same bed.

"Children, new baby, mum and dad are all together. It's what they're used to, so you go to a house and there's a couple of mattresses on the floor.

"But our advice in relation to cot death is for women to not sleep with their babies, so if you have the whole family in together then that presents a problem."

Mrs Cozens said that in the course of her work "you do learn a few words" but that this is not enough to clearly explain the full message.

Read more> Language & Culture
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Working as an expat in France

Just getting set up in your new French office? Nerve-wracking, isn't it? Here are some tips from Expatica's Culture Coach Nathalie Kleinschmit to make sure you get off to a good start and read the signals correctly in your new environment.

Let's see if you recognise yourself in Jason's tale of his stay at his multinational company's head office in Paris:

“When I got to the front desk, they told me I had to wait because they hadn’t received my badge yet. Twenty minutes went by before my manager arrived to authorize my entrance. He then walked me to my new office and and told me that a meeting was scheduled with the team at 3pm that afternoon and that, until then, I could read through the files.

I had my own laptop but couldn’t get the Internet connection to work. For the next few hours, I could see people walking by peering into my office but not a single person came in to introduce themselves to me. I went to get a coffee and discovered that the machine wasn’t coin-operated and that I needed a card. For lunch, I had already eaten in the cafeteria on previous trips and had a voucher so I was able to get a platter together. But I remember feeling quite alone and wondering if I was ever going to fit in.

Read more > Expatica
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Cultural diversity and mental health

One out of 35 people in the world is an immigrant, and in virtually every country, different languages, beliefs and cultures coexist. In this context, promoting mental health requires incorporating cultural sensitivity into mental health services and programs, experts said today at a special event held to observe World Mental Health Day 2007.

"Culture and diversity are central to the everyday perceptions, behavior, and interactions of individuals," said Dr. Carissa Etienne, Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). "It is no wonder therefore that culture and diversity influence the way that mental illness manifests itself, how individuals and communities perceive and cope with this illness, and how health care providers diagnose, treat, and care for persons with mental illness."

Led by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by PAHO and other institutions, this year's World Mental Health Day focuses on the growing importance of cultural competency and sensitivity in ensuring effective mental health programs and services around the world.

Read more: WFMH 
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Cultural diversity and mental health

One out of 35 people in the world is an immigrant, and in virtually every country, different languages, beliefs and cultures coexist. In this context, promoting mental health requires incorporating cultural sensitivity into mental health services and programs, experts said today at a special event held to observe World Mental Health Day 2007.

"Culture and diversity are central to the everyday perceptions, behavior, and interactions of individuals," said Dr. Carissa Etienne, Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). "It is no wonder therefore that culture and diversity influence the way that mental illness manifests itself, how individuals and communities perceive and cope with this illness, and how health care providers diagnose, treat, and care for persons with mental illness."

Led by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by PAHO and other institutions, this year's World Mental Health Day focuses on the growing importance of cultural competency and sensitivity in ensuring effective mental health programs and services around the world.

Read more: WFMH 
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Australia puts migrants to culture test

Migrants hoping to become Australian citizens will soon have to take a test examining their knowledge of the country's history and institutions, and endorse national values including "mateship".

While Australia prides itself on its multicultural heritage, the government wants newcomers to "integrate" more fully. From later this year, prospective citizens will have to demonstrate an understanding of the English language. They will also be obliged to answer 20 questions, from a potential bank of 200. Anyone who gives fewer than 12 correct responses will not receive a passport.

Read more: Australia 
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Culture still a major factor in expat failure

The Cartus Emerging Trends in Global Mobility: Policies & Practices Survey shows that an accelerated shift from long-term to short-term international relocation assignments is expected by the end of 2009. China's popularity as a destination is growing the fastest when compared with the U.S., Great Britain and India.

Cartus, a global mobility management and workforce development consultant, conducted the survey with 184 respondents from companies in 25 major industry segments. The organizations surveyed represent more than 83,000 assignees and have headquarters in 19 different nations.

Cartus also identified why these international assignments fail, regardless of being on a short-term basis. The top three reasons were family adjustment, at 71%; assignee personal style, at 48%; and cultural differences, at 40%.

This is easily remedied with intercultural and language training, which more companies are offering. The survey shows that intercultural training was offered by 55% of companies in 2007, versus the 28% offered in 2004. Meanwhile, 58% of companies offered language services for families, an increase from 30% in 2004.

Read more: Cartus 
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Language and Cultural background holding foreign-born workers back

“When you're looking at skills and technical professions there's a good body there of commonality,” said Tom Ryan, who's in charge of Communitech's recruitment strategy. “What we also find is culture shock. We find culture shock and language as a two-part killer.”

Not always, according to Herbert Hess, president of Hess Associates, which provides a placement service for people looking for work in the IT sector. Hess said that while language and culture shock can be a problem for some immigrants looking for work, people from countries such as India are used to working 10 to 14 hours a day - the kind of work ethic employers are looking for. “They've got language skills, communication skills and are very well educated. They don't seem to have a problem in terms of fitting in.”

Hess said he's seeing more Middle Eastern people looking for work nowadays compared to previous years, when Russian and Asian workers dominated the field.

Read more: Hess 
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Very un-Canadian Canadians!

Very un-Canadian Canadians!


Most Canadians know so little about their own country that they would flunk the basic test that new immigrants are required to take before becoming citizens, according to a poll released on Friday.

The Ipsos-Reid survey showed that 60 percent of Canadians would fail the test. A similar poll done in 1997 showed a failure rate of 45 percent.

"Canadians appear to be losing knowledge when it comes to the most basic questions about Canadian history, politics, culture and geography ... (they) performed abysmally on some questions," the firm said in a statement.

Read more: Canada
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Union publishes Safety Guide for Migrant Workers

The TUC has published an employers’ guide to help ensure the safety of migrant workers.

The document, Safety and Migrant Workers, warns employers that many migrant staff are more vulnerable than UK employees to illness, injuries or death at work due to a lack of safety training, non-existent or inadequate safety clothing and equipment, and poor English skills.

Problems with language and a poor understanding of the culture in British workplaces means that some ‘rogue employers’ are likely to be cutting corners and risking the health of their migrant workforce.

Read more: Safety and Migrant Workers 
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Monster Launches "Top Companies for Diversity"

Monster®, the leading global online careers and recruitment resource and flagship brand of Monster Worldwide, Inc.  today announced the Monster Top Companies for Diversity TM a comprehensive, employee-focused quantitative assessment methodology for evaluating a companys diversity and inclusion performance against a national standard. Monsters Top Companies for Diversity measures the perceptions of a companys employees regarding the employers performance on specific diversity factors across three broad categories: organizational commitment to diversity, fairness in compensation and culture of inclusion; results are then compared against an established national benchmark for analysis.

Read more: Monster 
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Language & Culture Barriers leading to Health Issues

Language barriers, a lack of health insurance and cultural differences all are likely causes behind low mammogram rates among Hispanic women in Texas, state health experts say, the Austin American-Statesmen reports.

Thirty-eight percent of Hispanic women in Texas did not receive a routine mammogram last year, compared with 21% of blacks and 27% of whites, according to CDC data. Cultural factors are one way to explain the low mammogram rates. Patricia Chalela, a health care researcher in San Antonio who has examined the low rate of mammograms among Hispanic women, said, "Hispanics don't see a doctor if they don't feel sick." She added that many Hispanic women "always think in terms of family first" and that women "are the ones that take care of the family. So any needs that they have are put last." She added that many clinics providing mammograms do not offer services in Spanish.

Read more: Statesman 
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Language & Culture Barriers leading to Health Issues

Language barriers, a lack of health insurance and cultural differences all are likely causes behind low mammogram rates among Hispanic women in Texas, state health experts say, the Austin American-Statesmen reports.

Thirty-eight percent of Hispanic women in Texas did not receive a routine mammogram last year, compared with 21% of blacks and 27% of whites, according to CDC data. Cultural factors are one way to explain the low mammogram rates. Patricia Chalela, a health care researcher in San Antonio who has examined the low rate of mammograms among Hispanic women, said, "Hispanics don't see a doctor if they don't feel sick." She added that many Hispanic women "always think in terms of family first" and that women "are the ones that take care of the family. So any needs that they have are put last." She added that many clinics providing mammograms do not offer services in Spanish.

Read more: Statesman 
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