Book Review “The Learner’s Journey – Storytelling as a Design Principle to Create Powerful Learning Experiences.” Written by Bastian Küntzel Review by Matthew Hill

“Identity is the story we tell ourselves”

Bastian Küntzel, Interculturalist, trainer and volunteer, has pushed himself to produce a practical book, that reflects its subject matter, is fit for purpose, and, keeps the audience engaged all the way to the end. Just like a good story.

Success – The book works. Imagine if this tome had failed to keep the reader turning the pages or left the trainer / coach / presenter more confused than when they started!

A journey to wisdom

Tone – The author adopts an intimate style with self-deprecation, revealing honesty and scattered references to Hollywood films that we all know – Harry Potter, Die Hard, Lord of the Rings, Iron Man, etc. We are drawn into this cosy fireside chat (the worked examples in the book’s appendix include old barns and wood burning stoves to add to this feeling), as we begin to join Bastian in his story and journey.

With references to the works of Daniel Kahneman, Joseph Campbell and Yuval Noah Harari, the author provides evidence that he has read widely, dived deep, and, is up to date with his sources and research. The authors are sited in footnotes at the bottom of each relevant page. A bibliography at the end would have been a nice addition.

He deconstructs their models to form his own philosophy around identity, learning, motivation and change, and, does so in a clear, rational and appealing manner.

The Hero’s Journey – We start with the 17 common elements of all stories as collected, analysed and explained by the great Joseph Campbell. With liberal reference to George Lucas who famously used Campbell’s schema to produce the most successful film franchise in the history of cinema – Star Wars, we understand why Bastian adapted the title of Campbell’s most famous work and named the book – The Learner’s Journey.

We then move to Dan Harmon’s updated and truncated model with 8 phases of the voyage.

1. Protagonist

2. Need

3. Go

4. Search

5. Find

6. Take

7. Return, &,

8. Change

The supposition is that this universal structure, found all over the world, in all cultures and throughout time, provides a robust template for training design.

To prove this point, the author spends the rest of the book matching Harmon’s stages to the student’s learning journey and suggests activities, criteria and pitfalls for each step along the way. This unique approach aims to help the classroom pupil to change, transfer and re-integrate into their workplace.

There are some fun moments – The holding of a “Fuck-up” night during an off-site multi-day training – A sort of improv, open mic session where story telling on the theme of how it all went wrong leads to bonding, positive vulnerability and the parking of egos for the duration of the course.

Criticism – Whilst the book is a light, informative and a well-intentioned effort – the model does not always fit the facts, the training purpose, or, the audience. The 3 examples at the end mostly fit but do not 100% conform to the stages of Harmon.

Audience – This book will appeal to those trainers, facilitators, teachers and coaches, that have enough experience to be able to put together a course for themselves – A beginner may be overwhelmed by having to adapt to the various stages and resign, disheartened.

Personally, I identified with the stages and found myself beginning to brainstorm activities and exercises that would fit the 8 parts and found plenty of ideas to insert into each stage.

Conclusion – This is a clean, simple and useful book that will help the passionate trainer, looking to improve or perfect their design craft to take their classroom delegate’s experience to the next level.

There are enough warnings and sorry tales contained within the pages too to act as a vicarious instruction manual for the newer designer.

All in all, The Learner’s Journey is a recommended read for the progressive and open-minded trainer who wishes to gain entry to the hearts and minds of their audience, move them emotionally, and, achieve a learning transformation that is worth reading about.

The book is accompanied by a resource centre – www.learners-journey.com and is available in Kindle and paper form.

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Gary Thomas of International HR Offers 2 Freelearning Webinars In July #unconsciousbias #marketing

To give you the opportunity to get to know some of our topics and to give you an impression of how we work, Gary offers regular free webinars on contemporary topics. All you need to participate in our freelearning webinars is a computer with internet access. The link to register is at the bottom of this post.

The freelearning webinars are limited to a maximum of 14 participants and registration is on a first come first served basis.

Unconscious Bias – 23rd July 2019, 9AM German time / 8AM UK.

In this interactive free-learning webinar you will learn how implicit, unconscious bias influences your daily business. You will discover how your brain often tends to make wrong decisions.

Marketing for Trainers – 23rd July 2019, 11AM German time, 10 AM UK.

Many freelance trainers rely heavily on word-of-mouth without focusing on their own market position. In this webinar we will examine the components of a practical marketing and sales concept.

Action – Simply fill in the contact / Kontact form’ https://www.international-hr.de/en/kontakt/

Feeling Italian – What does it mean to be Italian? A photography and book project crowdfunded…by YOU!

More than a photobook about what it means to feel Italian today .

89 photographs selected by an international jury show images of the Italy of today. A country in transformation in a global context, in terms of behaviours, customs and values and, at the same time, a country linked to traditions and elements of continuity with the past.
The Photography Contest, Feeling Italian, collected more than 600 images of professional and amateur photographers, from Italy and abroad. A jury, composed of experts of photography, visual communication and interculture has selected 24 photographic projects .

Feeling Italian – What does that mean?


This photo contest represented the first phase of a wider research and training project, that SIETAR Italia is developing in partnership with the Municipality of Milan and other private and non-profit organizations, to promote cultural awareness and intercultural dialogue .
The book Feeling Italian will be, for SIETAR Italia and for all the supporters of this campaign, a precious tool with which to stimulate a better cultural understanding in the Italian multicultural society, and it will be a showcase for the photographers selected by the project’s international jury.
Feeling Italian : a book in Italian and in English, approx. 120 pages, with black & white and color pictures, 21 x 21cm, exposed binding, containing the selected pictures, some of the photo projects’ narratives, and short essays written by photography, visual communication and intercultural experts .

And, You have a chance to support the project by donating €10, €20 or €50 towards to the printing costs. Click on the link; https://www.produzionidalbasso.com/project/feeling-italian-sentirsi-italiani-sostieni-la-produzione-del-libro-fotografico/

Invitation – IÉSEG and IACCM joint conference: Intercultural competencies for a disruptive VUCA world, October, Paris

We are happy to invite you to the conference of our cooperation partner IACCM jointly organised with the IÉSEG School of Management, from 31st October 2019 to 2nd November 2019 in Paris, France.

October in Paris

IÉSEG and IACCM warmly invite submissions from both practitioners and academics alike. Different contribution formats are available to suit different approaches and content, more info online here.

All submissions must be made via Conftool (https://www.conftool.com/iaccm2019), where you will be required to choose the presentation format best suited.

Submission should follow the abstract template available online, please note that there are two templates (practitioner and academic).

Submission deadline: June.2019

AND. Did you know about our available student bursaries?
Our student bursary awards are for students and early career scholars who have submissions accepted for presentation at the IACCM-IESEG2019 Conference.

Application deadline: June.2019

How to apply? All details can be found online here.

All enquiries on bursary applications (subject: student bursary) should be directed to Dr. Barbara Covarrubias Venegas: barbara.covarrubias@fh-wien.ac.at

Please like & share with your intercultural community – We’d love to see you in Paris!

best wishes,
Dr. Barbara Covarrubias Venegas
Secretary General
IACCM & Conference Chair

Conference Webpage: https://iaccm-congress.ieseg.fr

Matthew’s SIETAR Europa Congress Leuven Report! #SIETAR #Congress #Leuven

Or, We are a normal family…aren’t we??

What a Week

A week at the SIETAR Europa Congress 2019 in Leuven has fed our collective brains, hearts, stomachs and livers (if a liver can be fed.)

Overall, the event was a great success lead by Outgoing President, Joyce Jenkins. Joyce is the definition of an inclusive leader – combining leadership with latitude to develop purpose in an enthusiastic tribe of followers, ready to sweat a little, get creative, make decisions and get stuck in. There were many many dramas along the way (town, venue, gala, menus, rooms, people, tickets, buses, etc, etc.) And the lunches – we will get to that later. The end result was the transfer of much wisdom to a large group of intercultural enthusiasts in an effective manner in a beautiful town that was fit for purpose (Muntstraat had end-to-end restaurants and easily contained the learning hordes.)

The Leuven Town Hall Reception

Diversity and Inclusion

The inspired suggestion for this year’s Congress theme gave the amorphous and sometimes stagnant essentialist version of culture something substantial to work with and the results were impressive. Inclusion is where the rubber meets the road and the presenters with practitioner experience brought their experiences to life in a unique and memorable way for many of us. The topics of colour, racism, LGBTQ, as well as the prejudiced brain, polarisation and ethics got traction and the attention of this, sometimes, critical SIETARian crowd.

Quality – Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

When I drew attention to the frequent lack of original content and questionable quality of some presenting seen in the Dublin sessions and keynotes of 2017, I was unfriended by some pretty big names – Sometimes the truth is painful to hear.

I am happy to report (not just so that you stay friends!) that both content and presentation quality seem to have bounced back to the Valencia standard of 2015.

Working hard to find the PURPOSE of SIETAR!

The selection of papers for inclusion in the programme was BLIND – If ever an event was aligned with its topic, this has to be proof positive of that healthy intent. – A bi-product of this meritocratic process was that some big names where not on the programme.

Whilst there are still issues – Keynote speakers reading from their papers in “monotone”, some under rehearsed sessions with avoidable errors and the like – Speaking personally, I only had one sub-par experience during the whole event.

Super Stars

It was a very broad programme with up to 9 simultaneous choices at any one time, so I can only talk about the ones that I witnessed first hand.

***Shannon Murphy Robinson – An easily accessible introduction to the neuroscience of bias, culture and behaviour. Educational.

***Seyda Kutsal – Buurman – Giving regular folk (outside the police force) a chance to experience the strong feelings generated by the Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes experiment for themselves. Profound.

***Christoph Bader – Bringing something NEW to Brexit / Trump / Popularism! That is rare these days – Using the vehicle of collective memory, we were asked to apply its cult-like methods to the “other side” and come up with some pithy slogans to balance out fake news – Therapeutic.

***Christine Wirths and Lies Wouters – Digital learning – Giving us the chance, with a real case, to come up with our own attempts at constructing a digital learning programme – Inspiring and encouraging.

***Jackie van der Kroft – Reliably excellent, Jackie took us beyond conflict to the anatomy and mitigation of polarisation and asked us to apply some suggested methods in our own world. Outstanding.

***Monika de Waal, Natasha Aruliah & Henning Zorn – Sharing their life stories as 3 “outsiders”, trialogues around difference and discussions of feelings and implications – A richly experiential event.

***Alan Richter – Using ethical dilemmas and dramas and asking us to unpick them and choose a response – our results were then compared with global data and analysed. – The slickest show in town! And, finally,

***Sue Shinomiya – Ikigai – Finding one’s life’s purpose – The perfect post Gala session – Engaging enough to keep everyone zoned in, beautiful enough not to over challenge our fragile state. Elegant.

Sue Shimoniya – Ikigai

***Films – A reduced film track curated by a knowledgeable team and with the chance to see the most popular ones again on day 3. Moving.

Confession

I am sorry to say I missed the “Obama-like” opener with Leuven Mayor, Mohamed Ridouani. My loss.

Challenges – The vast voluntary team had much to cope with, not least their own size – Steering committee – 10, Congress team – 21 and Assistants – 12 (You probably need another committee to handle all of the 43+ volunteers!!!)

Great minds, and me…

The venue – The concrete medical school was funky though not always fit for purpose – Arriving at the hospital entrance (never trust a taxi driver who says, “Ah, yes, I know exactly where that is…”) we went past real medical patients, walked along many corridors only to be finally denied by a double set of locked doors – Signalling with my mobile phone light attracted the attention of the people in the registration hall but they could not blow the locks on the doors (a competence beyond university professors it seems.)

The Lunches – Yes we are finally here. Let us reframe this moment to get most benefit from our collective experience – The lunches were a bonding disaster that unified a diverse crowd in a common complaint. I am put in mind of an old Jewish joke about Catskills catering – “The food is horrible here –  And, such small portions.” And it did not matter – It lead to some hilarious survivor behaviour with charismatic SIETARian explorers attempting to bribe, influence and persuade KU Leuven medical students to buy canteen lunches for them – with mixed results.

Gala – In the end we all survived, ate and laughed. Apparently, the first choice venue went bankrupt before our event so a few brave souls found the substitute venue and persuaded them to host the do. The last minute instruction to select our food choices meant that, inevitably, many did not see the e mail and respond in time with their input. For them it was a fixed menu. But no more moaning – IT WAS A FREE OPEN BAR WITH BELGIUM BEER! – Come on.

With Natasha Aruliah and Kelli McLoud – Shingen and me.

In Conclusion

Where else can you guarantee bonfemmie and bonhomie like that? (New Word – bonfemmie!!) Is there anywhere like a SIETAR Europa Congress as a place where you can tell your story and be respected, included and truly heard? – I don’t think so. We have something precious here that is safe, user friendly and staffed entirely (with two exceptions) by volunteers. Wow.

matthew hill sietar leuven
Paul Westlake, Steve Crawford and George Simons

Thanks

Thanks to the steering committee of 10, the 21 strong congress team and, especially, to the 12 hard-working assistants.

Next

See you in Malta, May 2021.

P.S. – I promised to set up a Collaboration workspace after my interactive Collaboration session on day 2 at the Congress – Watch this space on Culture99 and do feel free to join in the exchange, ask questions, contribute and continue the dialogue about getting to collaboration within your organisation and spreading it to other work and community spaces too. Thanks, Matthew

Summer School, Utrecht, 15th to 19th July 2019 – Develop your intercultural competences to perform more effectively across cultures

Develop your intercultural competences to perform more effectively across cultures
15th to 19th of July 2019 in Utrecht with facilitators – Nicole Kienhuis and Jackie van der Kroft will be the facilitators.

Wharf level night view of Oudegracht canal in the old city centre of Utrecht, Netherlands

 The old city centre, Utrecht, Netherlands

This summer the Utrecht University offers you a challenging course to develop your intercultural competences. These competences are becoming more and more crucial nowadays.

As we all know, performing well in one’s own familiar context or culture doesn’t automatically equal studying or working effectively in an international context and/or in a diverse team. Even though we live and work in an increasingly globalized world, in which we seem to look, sound and think more and more alike, we are faced with deep layers of cultural differences. Navigating these differences and being able to cross bridges requires developing these four intercultural competences: intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, building commitment and managing uncertainty.

Power Talking Webinar, 9th April 2019, hosted by Gary Thomas

Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 10:00 AM Berlin Time – One Hour
Registration deadline: Saturday, 6th April 2019 Berlin Time.

Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 10.09.34

George Walther – Power Talk

In this webinar SIETAR Germany’s Gary Thomas will take a look at power talking and how it can impact and influence ourselves, those we lead, our peers, our partners and our environment.

Power Talking is a system of using common words to create uncommonly positive outcomes, developed in the USA by George Walther. The phrase he uses to define this concept is ‘What you say is what you get’.

BEING BILINGUAL – THE ABILITY TO SPEAK TWO LANGUAGES RATHER BADLY – A Post by Vanessa Paisley

BUT IT’S ÜBERCOOL…..

images

Are you one of many parents out there bringing up kids bi- or trilingually? Are you sick of parents of monolingual kids telling you “Wow, your kids are so lucky” whilst you trawl through Maths in another language when you actually never really got it in your mother tongue? You barely understand the order of operations BODMA rule in English let alone its German KLAPUSTRI equivalent?

Oh I get you! I seriously do. All very time consuming when you are working and homework sessions seem to go on forever. Bringing up children bilingually takes a lot of commitment and consistency. I know it as I’ve been there, done it and yes, have two wonderful bicultural and bilingual children that move in and out of languages and cultures with the flexibility of an American Express platinum card.

But the early days were tough. As a British mother bringing two kids up in Austria, a lot of my friends and colleagues were constantly telling me how lucky I was that my kids were bilingual. I knew in my heart of hearts that this would be great long-term and their future employers would profit from their linguistic assets, but at home I was listening to the dreadful sounds of Denglish, and there was a time when every sentence my kids uttered was painful to my ears. These ranged from word order issues such as “Mummy, I want to the toilet go” (German sentence structure), to verb confusion “French did entfallen today” (was cancelled) and general noun usage errors like “Mum, can you make me a Wurstbrot” (open sandwich with luncheon meat) for words that didn’t really exist in English.

The only book I read on the topic was a bit dry (there were unfortunately no blogs back then) but the message I extracted from it was “keep it consistent” and this has definitely paid off.

battle board game challenge chess

BILINGUAL TIPS AND TRICKS

Let’s break it down into bitesize pieces and see how raising kids bilingually can be done as effectively as possible. Here are five ways of ensuring that bilingualism works:

  1. Be consistent. If you are the parent responsible for a particular language, stick to your mother tongue. Even if your child answers you back in the local language and you speak that language fluently or with your partner. Just don’t budge!
  2. Correct your child in a genteel fashion – the best way to do this is to repeat the incorrect sentence correctly, without pointing it out to the child. This is a bit tedious at the beginning as you may feel that every short exchange turns into a mammoth dialogue, but it really helps.
  3. Expose your child to as much of the less present language as possible, this may be in terms of TV, films and books from the lesser predominant culture. Find ways of making the language attractive – watching films together, cooking, inviting friends over and speaking the language. Their friends will often find having a bilingual friend rather exciting. Talking to them is really important!
  4. Keep family ties going with trips to their “other” culture(s) in the holidays and with Facetime & co, it’s easy to stay in contact with grandma and grandad or other relatives across the seas. This should be encouraged at a young age as teenagers sometimes want to travel less for FOMO as they get more integrated into their local life.
  5. Maybe your child can gain recognised qualifications in a language in the country you are residing in. In the UK it is possible to do a GCSE in most languages and although the school can’t provide all the teaching, they are usually more than happy for pupils go gain qualifications in their mother tongue.

GLOBAL MINDSET

Many parents feel guilty about bringing up kids in different cultures as there are transitional periods when kids suffer from the change. Trilingualism (e.g. parents with two different mother tongues living in a third country) may take a bit more effort and it often depends on the child as to how they cope with it.

Thankfully, it will all unfold with time. My children have been penalised somewhat in school systems – in Austria their lack of knowledge of English grammar such as when to use the present progressive meant they didn’t always get top marks in English despite their fluency.

In the UK they were able to do their German exams (GCSEs and A-Levels) early but they found doing scientific subjects difficult in English because of lack of knowledge and language. In exam scenarios they have to think long and hard about the differences between “examine”, “explain” and “analyse” in questions, partly because this approach is very British but also because their vocabulary is smaller in both languages. And yet they were never considered by the system in the UK to need extra time as they didn’t sound “foreign” enough.

three person doing hand gestures

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF LINGUISTIC ASSETS

Being a multilinguist is a great skill for future employers and companies love ‘em! The neuroplasticity of bilingual brains is extensive. Do they think out of the box? Quite frankly NO! Because they don’t have any boxes to think out of! They are flexible, open-minded, empathetic, inclusive and very useful team members as they see value in and create synergy from different ideas and approaches.

Gone are the days when bilingualism was frowned upon – the tut-tutting of immigrants using their language on public transport or when immigrants were told by kindergartens and schools to speak the local language at home.

It’s something to be proud of and companies definitely do not undervalue linguistic assets. These days being ahead globally means having both knowledge of foreign markets and speaking foreign languages. So being bilingual gives you a step ahead – and it’s okay if your kids are not perfectly balanced bilinguals.  The effort and hard work you put in in their younger years is definitely worth it in the long run.

friends friendship fun girlfriend

Email Vanessa now at vanessa@paisley-communication.com to start a conversation on bringing up children multilingually.

And please share if you know anyone who may benefit from reading this.

About the author:

Vanessa has been training intercultural communication in various locations for around 14 years and is passionate about helping people relocate and reach their maximum potential from their time abroad.