Three questions to Cross-Culture Trainer Dana Ritzmann

On 13 April 2016, CrossCulture internship holder Dana Ritzmann planned and realized a "Fun Filled Cross-Cultural Training" at the German-Jordanian University in Amman (Jordan). At the end of the month, she will finish her internship and returns as an alumna to her hometown Dresden, Germany. At "ifa Alumni" she explains what "fun filled" means and what the German singer Helene Fisher has got to do with that.

Cross-Culture Participants working together. © ifa/Ritzmann

ifa: What were the biggest challenges for participants during the workshop?

 

Dana: Actually it was not difficult at all – everybody had a lot of fun, the students from Jordan as well as the German exchange students were very active and eager to participate. As culture is always a lot about yourself and your own identity they shared many views on different aspects of young people’s life while grouping themselves along certain criteria. One aspect that we discussed quite a while was the point of moving out of your parents’ house and living on one’s own – a fact that seems very strange to the Jordanian students while the Germans have a hard time understanding how you could not want to be free and on your own. But by having the opportunity to ask back and get some more even personal information understanding is acutally made possible. It’s all about growing closer and sharing their views on life – that’s what the German Association Club wanted by initiating this event. They thought it was hard to get in contact with the German students on campus – so they set up this event to have people meet and chat and to keep on becoming friends.

 

ifa: Do some of the participants plan to transfer the workshop knowledge into ‘real’ experiences in the near future? (i.e. visit to other countries?)

 

Dana: Of course! All of the students of the German-Jordanian University in Amman go for their last year to Germany – to study and do an internship. So the intercultural training was supposed to be some sort of preparation. Also the GJU teaches them intercultural communication in a few of their German classes, but it is actual teaching. What we did at the Training Event was different – it was all about acting and interacting, about asking and questioning, and about getting in touch with people from the “other world”. For the German exchange students, that also participated, it was about understanding the new culture they are confronted with right now and they took the chance to ask questions to the Jordanian students and share their experiences on culture shock and how to adapt.

 

ifa: What means “Fun Filled Cross-Cultural” Training? A term that is written on your invitation poster.

 

Dana: Other than a university class an intercultural training is always a very interactive event. It has a lot of different tools followed one by another intended to prompt certain reactions or trigger emotions. A training is always about emotions – it involves using your brain, but most of it is about experiencing something. So in this case the students had a 10-minute-party, dancing to Helene Fischers popular song “Atemlos” and getting to know each other. But other than any party they know they were asked to play a certain role in greeting each other. What sounds puzzling at first is a method to experience what ethnocentrism is all about. They all know the term, they were taught in university – but now they’ve noticed what it feels like and how you can not easily get out your “normal” pattern. This is just a first step to then go back to the real world and think about how to deal with in an exchange situation.

 

Thank you very much for your time and answers, Dana.