Monday, 18 August 2014

Ethiopian culture or “to feed or to be fed”

Hi guys
Hope you’re fine there?

I’m trying to find an amazing, breath-taking and fabulous teambuilding activity which will take place on Sunday before the official part of the start-up week begins. It should consider the different cultures of the students. While I was thinking about different activities a question came up: what actually IS culture?

I was thinking about it for a long time (truly too long, I was getting insane. Hmm, okay, for those of you who know me, I was kind of crazy before... xD ) Sorry, back to topic. Culture. A huge part of my bachelor thesis (yes, I graduated this year – you can extend your congratulations to me later) was about culture and what it is all about. I was talking to many people about what culture was for them and I got as many different answers during these interviews. Some of them said it was the behavior while others assumed it means values and someone else thought it is the educational background of every single person. One of my interview partners was convinced that we cannot define culture. And I’m with him ‘cause culture has many different aspects and I’m certain that there are in fact thousands of different cultures in the world.

Okay, this fact makes my task rather difficult. To avoid dropping a brick I’ll refer to some theoretical culture theories from Hofstede and Trompenaars & Hampden – Turner (clever minds – believe me). When I was comparing the Swiss and Ethiopian culture I found out that we are not as different as you may expect (in theory of course. Meeting and working with people from other cultures is always a different kettle of fish). One of the biggest differences you must consider when working with a stereotyped Ethiopian is that family and friends have a very high significance (Swiss are different – we hate our fellowmen. Just kidding ;) ). Within a work team the success of a certain project is not as important as the developing relationship between the team members. Have this in mind. Then the factor of time is not the same as in Switzerland. Not at all. In Ethiopia time is more flexible. I was in Ethiopia one year ago and it was rainy season – unfortunately for a timetable-addicted Swiss. This not because it was wet and muddy, no, the reason for it was that if it started raining all the Ethiopians were looking for shelter so that they did not get wet. Actually quite comprehensible but this also means that they’re waiting there until it stops raining even if they miss a deadline, the bus or a meeting with the president.

I know, you all are desperately waiting on the explanation of the post title. To feed or to be fed. Okay, this is meant literally. To feed somebody with your right hand is the highest level of showing respect in Ethiopia. So, if someone tries to feed you let it happen – it’s a huge honour. It’s as simple as it sounds (okay, not that simple, ‘cause you shouldn’t touch the feeding hand with your lips. No. Just don’t do it.).

To choose the right team building activity we also need to look at the Swiss culture. You have to be patient my friends ‘cause this will be the topic of my next post.

Over and out, Ari


No comments:

Post a Comment