The Commisceo Global Blog - Perfect for Culture Vultures

Whether a press release, a case study of cultural difference, some tips on working abroad or some lessons in cross-communication, we try our best to satiate your inner culture vulture.

Civil Engineer helps Construction Industry Go Global

Civil Engineer helps Construction Industry Go Global
Ever thought of going global with your design or construction company? You might run into problems you didn’t expect to occur. Here are a few tips on how to realise your global ambitions as smooth as possible!
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Christmas Celebrations: Cultural Differences

Christmas Celebrations: Cultural Differences

In many Western cultures, the Christmas celebrations are more or less the same or thereabouts. The family gathers on Christmas Eve, a Christmas mass is possibly attended and presents are unwrapped. There are numerous cultures, however, that like their Christmas traditions a little less conventional…

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Afghan jokes on Cultural Differences

Afghan jokes on Cultural Differences
You wouldn't think war would bring out a people's sense of humour but in Afghanistan the cross-cultural interaction between locals and troops has resulted in some very funny stories.
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Language Aptitude Tests for Foreign Doctors


With the well publicized case of Dr Daniel Ubani earlier this year has come the question as to how many other EU GPs practicing in the UK are ‘lost in translation’. Dr Ubani had “unlawfully killed” UK patient David Gray in 2008 after mistakenly giving him a large overdose of diamorphine.

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Councils spend £50m a year translating documents



It is a well-intended initiative which is meant to offer immigrants a helping hand. Yet now an investigation has found that many of the expensively-produced foreign-language leaflets have never been read.

Documents which have failed to attract a single reader include a pamphlet for gipsies translated into Polish, and a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender directory translated into French.

No-one read the Haringey Women's Directory when it was translated into Albanian, Bengali, Kurdish, Somali or Urdu.

All were made available by Haringey council, in north London, on its website, which records the number of times each document is downloaded.

A spokesman for Haringey Council said: “Haringey has some 193 different languages spoken. We generally offer translations where required rather than translate routinely.

"Where translations are produced they will be made available on our website as an additional service.”

Read more > Telegraph
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Fewer expats sent abroad



According to the findings of a survey of 180 managers by London-based consultants Brookfield, more than two thirds of the major multinationals are expecting to post fewer employees abroad this year.

Nannette Ritmeester of the Dutch consultancy Expertise in Labour Mobility recognises the picture. She sees two possible responses to the crisis: either send fewer employees abroad, or economise on the facilities for expats, by cutting back on housing allowances or air tickets for trips back home.

However, spokespersons for Shell, Philips and Akzo Nobel are keen to stress that they won’t be skimping on perks for expats.

“They’re set down in the collective labour agreement – they’re agreed beforehand so you can’t change them,” says a Philips spokesperson.

Read more > Expats
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Expat life getting harder



With fluctuating exchange rates and companies less willing to keep expats on their payroll, the economic landscape for expats is changing drastically.

Expatriates have always been known for their ability to adapt to new cultures and contexts but the current financial crisis may prove to be the biggest challenge yet for internationals.

The economic landscape across the globe is changing by the day and it is still unclear how that will affect the world and workplace – and the place of expats within it.

Two things are already clearly impacted, though: the costs borne by expatriates in many European cities and overseas assignments by multinational corporations.

A recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), for instance, showed that while weakening exchange rates have substantially lowered the relative cost of living in Western Europe for expatriates, it remains the most expensive area of the world to live in. Western Europe boasts seven of the top 10 most expensive cities across the globe and all but two of the Western European cities surveyed are in the top 50, according to the report.

However, those living in Western Europe can take heart in the fact that the relative cost of living in the region is dropping – due, in large part, to drastic declines in European currencies such as the sterling, the euro and the Norwegian krone.

Read more > Expatica
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HR challenge for Gulf States



Gulf oil producers have made substantial progress in economic development because of their massive crude resources but they will always remain reliant on foreign labour, a United Nations official said yesterday.

Adel Abdul Lateef, Director of Regional Programmes at the Regional UN Development Programme Office, said the six Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries still face the challenge of human resources development despite their remarkable economic achievements over the last 50 years.

One of the problems he cited was that GCC nationals still account for a low percentage of the workforce in most member states as they prefer the public sector in the absence of attractive incentives in the private sector.

"The GCC economies will always surpass the production capacity of the native population and this will make these economies permanently reliant on expatriate labour from all sides," he told a human resources conference in Abu Dhabi.

"The GCC's long-term strategies must take into account the rapid demographic consequences resulting from this steady development whether in terms of rights and duties for expatriates or the number of nationals and their contribution to all economic aspects and values."

Abdul Lateef said the large expatriate presence in the GCC has become a permanent phenomenon, which has "not only offset a sharp labour shortage during the oil boom but also largely contributed to the expansion of the GCC market in terms of commodities and services".

"There is no doubt this large foreign presence has become a controversial topic of discussion and has raised economic, political, cultural and strategic issues over the past period due to a steady increase in this presence."

Read more > Foreign Labour
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Global Skills for an International Career



As an international careers adviser, I receive questions daily from people of varied backgrounds who hope to try their luck in the global marketplace. Many job seekers mistakenly believe that they can’t begin an international career until their feet are on foreign soil. They overlook their own backyard for resources and training opportunities.

The Most Sought-After Skills

What do international employers really look for in employees and what skills will be needed by professionals to perform successfully in the global marketplace?

A study commissioned by the College Placement Council Foundation surveyed 32 international employers and colleges to determine what international employers seek in prospective employees. They identified the following areas of required knowledge and skills:

Domain knowledge

Colleges in the U.S. are presently preparing their graduates well in domain knowledge, or knowledge in one’s academic discipline, although employers expressed concern that increasingly greater demands and higher standards may soon result in inadequately prepared graduates.

The three most important skills were cognitive skills, social skills, and “personal traits.” Problem-solving ability, decision making, and knowing how to learn are highly prized generic skills. Social skills were described as the ability to work effectively in group settings, particularly with diverse populations. Personal traits mentioned frequently included flexibility, adaptability, and the capacity to be innovative. Employers often mentioned that colleges do not adequately address this type of skill development.

Cross-cultural competence

Students must make a concerted effort to acquire the knowledge, skills, and traits gained through cross-cultural interaction because we are more geographically and linguistically insulated than most other countries.

On-the-job training and prior work experience. Employers seek applicants who have been successful in applying their domain knowledge or academic studies and generic skills in the workplace. They say that colleges do not place sufficient emphasis on work experience.

Read more >> By Debra Peters-Behrens
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The Interculturale Theatre Storytelling Laboratory


The Interculturale Theatre Storytelling Laboratory



Presents

the gift of diversity

Intercultural Theatre Storytelling Festival

II Edition - Rome, May 8-24 2008
The idea

Interculture means confront, exchange and communication among diverse cultures, towards an opened view and a larger dialogue between differences, against each discrimination. However, somehow, privileging interest to origins and traditions of the person that we meet - even if he is rich and amazing - and that normally we call a stranger, we may risk to forget his true particularity, maybe the most important thing: his story and not his country's one, his experience and not his people's one, his emotions and feelings, not his race's one. So, we can make the mistake to build a weak and false image, a masquerade, where people are just playing roles: the African, the Chinese, the Arabian and so on. Words are important and, when concepts linked to them have a fundamental value in our life, contradictions are not possible. We are different or equal? We can't be both, this is our provocation. If you think we are all unique, then, maybe, you could agree with the idea behind this project: the most powerful, significant and revolutionary way to have an intercultural point of view, in other words, to underline the importance of differences and richness inside our individuality, is to show the diversity of people that often think themselves as equal (not celebrating the equality of strangers...), to tell how much they are interesting to listen when they are speaking of themselves and how all become wonderful if they are so proud to mix each others.


II Edition

In May 2008 we’ll present the second edition of this festival. The last year, the first one was thought to put the bases and this time we whish to show our idea of interculture. Local or foreign artists, considering their diversity as a gift, will tell their story with their personal language or dialect. Because Italy and all countries in the world are wonderfully multicultural places even without immigrants, which are just other colours to improve the rainbow…

Almost seventy artists and companies, since North to South, sent us their proposals, convincing us that our point of view is not so crazy. After a hard selection will present nine shows from all Italy. The aim is to create a space where, thanks to Theatre Storytelling, interculture will become just culture, while actors and public will agree that diversity is the first value to celebrate.

The participants are, in order of appearance:

May 8, 9.00 p.m.: “Scantu[1]”, by and with Adele Tirante, “Cosa sono le nuvole” and “Viaggio inverso”

May 9, 9.00 p.m.: "Francesco Pileggi, the true story of a man of honour[2]",

by and with  Andrea Chianelli

May 10, 9.00 p.m.: “Calafrica[3]”, by and with Manuela Valenti

May 15, 9.00 p.m.: “Refugees”, by and with “Rataplab”

May 16, 9.00 p.m.: “Zagara”, by and with Maria Cristina Sarò

May 17, 9.00 p.m.: “It’s spring”, by and with Antonio Carletti

May 22, 9.00 p.m.: “Horrible heritage on the lake[4]”,

by and with “The differents, almost equal but different”

May 23, 9.00 p.m.: “The town of Punt”, by and with Elisa Menchicchi

May 24, 9.00 p.m. : “The true story of Jean Baptiste du Val-de-Grâce, orator of the human race”,

by and with Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher and Cecilia Moreschi

The festival will be at the Studio Uno Theatre (www.studiounoteatro.it), in Rome,

Via Carlo della Rocca, 6.

The Laboratory:

The Intercultural theatre storytelling laboratory is directed by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher (www.alessandroghebreigziabiher.it), with the precious collaboration of Cecilia Moreschi.

Information:

Luisa Moreschi

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web: www.narrazioneinterculturale.org

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Hiring intentions slowing

 Some of the strongest hiring intentions recorded are in Singapore, India, Peru and Romania, while China reported the weakest hiring outlook according to Manpower’s latest Employment Outlook Survey.

Thirty-two countries and territories expect positive hiring activity for the second quarter.  However, as the majority of the predictions are weaker compared to the previous quarter, the general trend indicates a step back in hiring for many of the world’s largest economies, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

Some of the strongest hiring intentions recorded are in Singapore, India, Peru and Romania.  These results reflect a high demand for talent in markets where foreign direct investment and labour mitigation are increasing.  China reported the weakest hiring outlook.

Read more > Expatica 
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Translation of food labels

Revere's (Massachusetts, USA) diverse community has given rise to a number of ethnic restaurants and grocery stores brimming with international products from countries such as Cambodia, Lebanon, and Thailand.

revere usa


While these restaurants and stores provide a taste of home for immigrants, they may be confusing for residents who want to try new things but cannot read foreign-language packaging.

This was one of the arguments used by City Councilor George Rotondo when he asked, by way of a council motion, that Revere stores that sell products in a foreign language provide an English translation.

"I embrace diversity. I live it," said Rotondo, whose wife is from Colombia and who can speak or read five languages. "Unfortunately, I believe it's unfair that you go to a store and see something there and don't know what it is, and have to rely on someone telling you what it is."

His colleagues on the council last month approved the motion, which then made its way to Mayor Thomas G. Ambrosino's desk. There it met a speedy death.

"The council passed it and the mayor vetoed it," Rotondo said. "He thought it was 'silly'; he wrote that in a letter to me."

"I just thought it was kind of foolish," Ambrosino said in an interview. "First of all, I don't think we have the authority to have private companies translate their products into English. And I don't think it's an effort in which we ought to be expending our efforts."

Read more > Revere 
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Movies to help expats settle in Korea

Three Korean films and a cartoon have been translated for immigrant workers and foreigners married to Koreans here. About 10 immigrants from Southeast Asian countries participated in the translation project to help people settle down in Korea more easily.

Three movies, ``Wolf Daddy,'' ``Stand by Me’’ and ``Walking in the Rainy Day’’ and a cartoon cooking guide were translated into four languages, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese and English. The cartoon contains recipes for various Korean dishes and is already popular among foreign workers.

``My Filipino friends asked me to translate a Korean cartoon and movie into Tagalong and I did the job for almost three months from September last year,’’ said Maria Judids Bublacion, 38. Maria is married to a Korean here. ``It is my pleasure to help them. I hope to get more opportunities to do this kind of job for immigrants here,’’ she added.

Cultural Action (CA), a non-profit civic organization, organized the translation project, which it pursued in cooperation with a cartoon company and the Association of Korea Independent Film & Video funded by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs.


Read more > Korea 
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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.

language and culture in the uk


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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English is foreign for 40% of primary school kids

Schools are struggling to cover the cost of providing specialist teachers for thousands of new immigrant pupils, headteachers warned today.

english in primary school




Forty per cent of primary age children in London now speak a language other than English at home and some schools take several new arrivals a week as pupils "appear from nowhere", heads have said.

The National Association of Head Teachers called for schools to be given the "infrastructureî they needed to get pupils whose first language is not English fluent enough to cope with the national curriculum as soon as possible.Read more> Language 
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Blears launches new integration strategy


translation


Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, has announced a £50m investment to help local authorities boost integration and the creation of specialist teams to tackle tensions in communities sparked by changing patterns of migration.

The money - up from £2m this year - is to be channelled over three years to groups which promote integration, rather than towards bodies which represent a single ethnic or religious identity. The change in approach is to be accompanied by guidance to local authorities that they should only spend money on translating documents into foreign languages where necessary, and put a much greater emphasis on teaching English.

Read more: Blears 
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NHS HR staff accused of ignoring racism and bullying of Asian doctors

eading figures have told Personnel Today how HR teams are allowing a minority of racist line managers to make working life tough for migrant medics.

Their comments come after a General Medical Council (GMC) report showed that doctors trained overseas were twice as likely to face formal disciplinary hearings once a complaint had been made as those who graduated in the UK.

Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, told Personnel Today: "There is no doubt that bullying of Asian doctors goes on.

"The small minority of racists in the NHS take complaints [about foreign doctors] to HR. HR needs better training in handling these issues."

Read more: Doctors 
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High Translation costs for Multicultural N. Ireland

The impact of foreign immigrants on the translation costs for Northern Ireland's courts has been revealed today. The Court Service had to fork out almost £200,000 to hire 946 language interpreters during 2006, according to figures released by the Government.

The figures give one indication of the dramatic changes happening in the increasingly multi-cultural Northern Ireland as workers flood in from far and wide, boosting what is a thriving economy. They reveal 936 translators were engaged to work in criminal court cases during 2006. The most often featured languages were:

1. Lithuanian 344.

2. Polish 209.

3. Russian 90.

4. Portuguese 63.

5. Mandarin 43.

Read more: Ulster Courts 

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