Monday, June 28, 2010

Workshop: Culture and Globalization, July 3

Venue: Arusha Community Church
Date: July 3, 2010: 9:00am-1:00pm
Presenter: Professor Joseph L. Mbele (St. Olaf College, USA)

Workshop Theme

The world is increasingly becoming a global village, with serious implications. What is globalization? What are the consequences of globalization? What is the global village? Will the global village be a pleasant place or a place of tension and suffering? What is our strategy for coping in the global village? Globalization brings both opportunities and challenges. What are these?

Within this broad framework, this workshop will focus on the cultural dimensions of globalization. In the global village, people of different cultures will have to interact, through living or working together. We will have to deal with people whose values, expectations, ways of thinking, acting and communicating are different from ours. Are we prepared for these challenges?

As we go abroad, to do business, to live, or just travel, we will encounter cultural differences. Even if we just stay in our own countries, we will deal with foreigners, whose cultures are different from ours. We need to understand these differences, in order to be effective in our dealings with foreign companies, business partners, volunteers, tourists, students, co-workers, and friends. How prepared are we when we embark on business ventures abroad? Without cultural literacy, can we conduct effective diplomacy?

As foreign companies, enterprises and organizations move into places like Africa, should they bring their values and ways of doing things to Africa, or should they adapt to the African ways? What are the pros and cons of either strategy? Some people talk about international standards. Are these international standards, or just European and American?

Such are the questions this workshop will address, building on Professor Mbele’s experience in conducting such workshops in the U.S.A. and Tanzania. His knowledge and experience will open new doors and new horizons. The workshop will be interactive, with participants freely asking questions and contributing their own perspectives. This strategy worked well in previous workshops, and this workshop should be even better.

Registration at the conference venue: Arusha Community Church
Fee: 20,000 shillings
Phone: 0717 413 073

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Africonexion Meets Kanga Kabisa

Marianne NilssonWallin and I got connected on Facebook. Based in Zanzibar and Minnesota respectively, we corresponded for about a year. Then, on June 17, 2010, we met for the first time, in Dar es Salaam.

A Swede, Marianne came to Tanzania for the first time in 1969, and she has been engaged with Africa ever since. She runs the Kanga Kabisa company, which makes products out of the famous khanga fabrics produced in Tanzania.

Kanga Kabisa is a business with a social mission. It strives to use local materials and resources to make quality products. Marianne believes that Africa can create high quality products which should be promoted, for the benefit of both Africans and the world. Marriane believes this is needed in order to promote a better awareness of Africa among Europeans and other foreigners.

I was happy to learn about the Kanga Kabisa philosophy. I run africonexion, a small consulting business which promote awareness of cultural differences and strategies for coping with and leveraging them. Africonexion seeks to empower people, giving them the tools for managing their lives and work in this world which is getting more and more interconnected. Like Kanga Kabisa, Africonexion is a business with a social mission: to make the world a better place, with a focus on people and sustainability.

Marianne and I love books. We discovered this when we got connected on Facebook. We shared information about publishers, books and book fairs and discovered that we have mutual friends and colleagues in this field. Marianne has read some of my books, likes them, and is keen to promote them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Nebraska Readers

On June 9, 2010 I was in Amsterdam for several hours, on my way from Minneapolis to Dar es Salaam. As we were standing in the long, packed queue, proceeding to the boarding gate, a lady approached me confidently and asked me to sign a copy of my Africans and Americans book.

I did not know the lady, but she had the book in her hand. As she was handing me the pen and the book, I humbly asked for her name, and she told me to write Charlotte and Aimee. I asked where she was from and she said Nebraska, adding that she and several other people were on their way to Arusha, Tanzania, on a mission trip. Such mission trips are now very common among U.S. Lutherans and other Christians.

As Charlotte and I talked, we discovered that we have a mutual friend, Pastor Martin Russell, who is a seasoned leader of mission trips to Tanzania. I have never met him, but we are connected on Facebook. As we were getting connected on Facebook, Pastor Russell told me that he constantly recommends my book to mission trip participants. That is how Charlotte got to know about it.

During the flight, a young lady came to my seat and declared that she was Charlotte’s daughter and excitedly started praising my book, saying it “really nailed it.” Other people sitting nearby heard her. I was humbled. She asked if I would pose for a photo with her group later, and I gladly agreed.

When the plane landed at the Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha, I joined the group in the back of the plane and Charlotte took the photo shown here.

Such encounters with my readers have become quite common during flights between the USA and Tanzania. I am easy to recognize because of the photo on the back of my book, and I know that wherever I go, I cannot hide.