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Off topic: multicultural
Thread poster: Atena Hensch

Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 14:27
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
Aug 27, 2008

Hi everyone,
I am wondering what the "multicultural" mean to you? How do you define it?

cheers
Atena


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
The creative interchange of numerous ethnic and racial subcultures Aug 28, 2008

It is a very vague expression, which can be sketched by the results of the Google search:
define: multicultural
where I like the first definition best
# The creative interchange of numerous ethnic and racial subcultures.
usa.usembassy.de/etexts/oal/gloss.htm

# strongly influenced by or having prominent characteristics of several cultural groups or peoples
www.newberry.org/K12maps/glossary/index.html

# Many cultures coexisting in a similar time and place.
www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/grade3/glossary.html

# Usally of a society, made up of a mixture of several cultural groups
abolition.e2bn.org/glossary/view_glossary_0_M.html

# Multicultural refers to many cultures. In diversity work it means valuing the differences of others and creating an environment that does not require assimilation.
www.reslife.cmich.edu/rama/index.php

# of or relating to or including several cultures; "a multicultural event"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

# The term multiculturalism generally refers to a de facto state of both cultural and ethnic diversity within the demographics of a particular social space.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multicultural

# Relating or pertaining to several different cultures
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/multicultural

Why do you ask?

Cheers,
Harry


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 14:27
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
why am I asking? Aug 28, 2008

I work at the centre which provides services for refugees and migrants. The services are very various and they include social services, integration, learning about New Zealand culture, settlement in the new country, Esol, multi-cultural activities, etc. We support refugees and migrants and help them to settle in New Zealand. We help them to find jobs, learn English, open a bank account, understand the legal and health services, find a house, etc.

I am also part of the board for this centre and we are in the procedure of changing the name for the centre because of various reasons. Some people suggested that we change the name of the centre to "Multi-cultural Information Centre". Interestingly enough, each of us who comes from a different country has a different view about "multi-culture" word. For example one who comes from England said "I would not even consider contacting an organisation with 'multicultural' in the title to assist me in settling in NZ, as it raises religious connotations for me and doesn't in any way indicate the type of service available". One who comes from Malaysia said "multicultural is what we are and what we do. There is no doubt about it." Of course Malaysia in a multicultural country.

What I'd like to know from you guys is that if you hear the word "multi-cultural", what is the first thing come to your mind?

Do you feel it carries a negative connotation? I'd like to know about your personal experience and feeling. I have already read a couple of books on this title and heaps of articles. I have worked in this area for years. I have already googled and know what's out there.

Thanks
Atena


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
How about "Cultural Information Center" ? Aug 28, 2008

Atena Hensch wrote:

I work at the centre which provides services for refugees and migrants. The services are very various and they include social services, integration, learning about New Zealand culture, settlement in the new country, Esol, multi-cultural activities, etc. We support refugees and migrants and help them to settle in New Zealand. We help them to find jobs, learn English, open a bank account, understand the legal and health services, find a house, etc.


I don't know about any cultural differences between NZ and UK, but I think "Cultural Information Center" would be better, because
1) you are primarily informing about New Zealand, and
2) "multi-cultural" may carry a negative connotation, because it is often misused for a kind of welfare for immigrants from poor countries, which the UK is definitely not.

You are welcome

Harry

[Edited at 2008-08-28 09:52]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:27
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Inter-cultural? Aug 28, 2008

Harry's suggestion of Cultural by itself is probably the best.

Multi-cultural means different things to different people here in Denmark too. Without going into politics, it is not always considered positive here either.

'Inter-cultural inbformation centre' is a thought, but others might raise objections to that too.

Best of luck!


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Tetyana Dytyna  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 03:27
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
just another word Aug 28, 2008

If anything to do with "culture" poses such a controversial topic why don't you skip the word altogether and think of something more neutral?

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sandra lewis
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:27
English to French
+ ...
International Aug 28, 2008

I would suggest naming it 'International Information Centre'. Nice and neutral. Like the 'Office for International Students' at British universities, or 'International Office' for short.


Best of luck

Sandra

[Edited at 2008-08-28 10:46]


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 14:27
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Refugee and Migrant Centre Aug 28, 2008

Tetyana Dytyna wrote:

If anything to do with "culture" poses such a controversial topic why don't you skip the word altogether and think of something more neutral?


We have the name of "Refugee and Migrant Centre" at the moment and I think it's an easy and neutral name but there are heaps of politically wrong issues around the word "Refugee" or "Migrant", it seems.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:27
Italian to English
+ ...
multicutural Aug 28, 2008

I'm also English and multicultural seems a perfectly neutral term to me - it doesn't have any religious or negative connotations from my point of view.

However, as it clearly does mean different things to different people, and in any case as it doesn't really convey what your centre actually does, how about "immigrant information centre"? That would remove any of the issues with "refugee" and "migrant" while still making it clear what you're there for.

[Edited at 2008-08-28 16:55]


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Are refugees no migrants? Aug 28, 2008

Anyway, Immigrant Information Centre gets my vote.

[Edited at 2008-08-28 12:07]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:27
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
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Agree with Harry Aug 28, 2008

I agree with Harry: "Immigrant Information Centre" is clear and to the point and tells people exactly what you do. We have a similar organization here in Calgary that is called "Immigrant Aid Society". The name "Multi-cultural Information Centre" is too vague. People may think you just provide literature on different cultures, or organize multi-cultural events.

[Edited at 2008-08-28 13:32]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:27
English to French
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Multiculturalism vs. interculturalism Aug 28, 2008

Well, we have heard the word multiculturalism pretty often recently, here in Quebec. We have had a huge public debate on reasonable accomodations, that is, requests to modify the operation of the government, the education system and the workplace on the basis of ethnic origins and religious beliefs. An example would be a muslim asking for days off to observe a religious holiday, a sikh student asking to carry his kirpan (a knife which is also a religious symbol for sikhs) on him at school or a jewish mother requesting that all food served to her son in kindergarten be kosher.

This public debate, while it didn't necessarily have any meaningful conclusion, did heavily rely on terminology. Here are some of their definitions:

multiculturalism: In its most common meaning, a system centred on respect for and
the promotion of ethnic diversity in a society. It may lead to the
idea that a society’s common identity is defined solely through
reference to political principles rather than to a culture, ethnicity or
history.

interculturalism: A policy or model that advocates harmonious relations between
cultures based on intensive exchanges centred on an integration
process that does not seek to eliminate differences while fostering
the development of a common identity.

As you can see, it is probably best to avoid the word culture and all its derivatives altogether. The meaning of the word culture is heavily changing worldwide, and I predict that people will abandon its use because to many, it is starting to have negative connotations, not just because of immigration and all the necessary changes it provokes, but also because the proper definition of culture isn't at all applied anymore (culture used to be used to learn about each other - what we call culture nowadays are tools meant to convince people to buy and to endoctrinate them: the Olympics, advertisement taking up a good chunk of TV programming, product placement in movies, etc.). Art forms and works of art that are entirely made up of genuine cultural ingredients don't get nearly as much funding as art forms and works of art that are used as tools to make money. Also, whatever is left of culture in the proper sense of the word is subject to a lot of censorship. Many people use cultural means to enlighten the population on issues that matter - and their art gets censored before it is even launched. For example, Canada is a land that was built on native indian soil - but most Canadians still don't have a clue who native indians are, and those who would like to show us don't get much funding to do so - but Canadian Idol, on the other hand... Mind you, this isn't only happening in underdeveloped or corrupt countries - we have had more than a taste of this in Canada over the past few years as well.

I personally think that you could do something with the word integration. After all, looking at the list of services the organisation provides, integration seems to be at their core. How about something along the lines of Integright?

[Edited at 2008-08-28 16:57]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:27
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Common reaction to this word in England Aug 28, 2008

Atena Hensch wrote:
For example one who comes from England said "I would not even consider contacting an organisation with 'multicultural' in the title to assist me in settling in NZ, as it raises religious connotations for me and doesn't in any way indicate the type of service available".



I also come from England and I feel the same way as the person you quote. Here "multicultural" is the opposite of "assimilating". Instead of trying to help incomers learn about the existing culture and become part of it, they are encouraged to stick with their own cultures, which may be hostile to the native one. There are advantages to cultural diversity, of course, but many here feel they are outweighed by the disadvantages.

I fear this topic may be closed as being a political discussion. I don't see how one can say much about it without being accused of entering the banned area of politics.


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Ali Bayraktar  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2007)
English to Turkish
+ ...
It wont be Multi-Cultural Center Aug 28, 2008

I don't think that you have enough infrastructure to welcome all people's culture.

e.g.

If I will see a center with the word "multicultural" in its name, I would expect to meet a part of mine in there. If I would not find it, then probably I would be disappointed.

It wont be a multicultural center because you would present them your (country's) culture but not theirs own

Possibly, there would be a huge amount of people who would be disappointed in expectations.

My suggestion is; finding a neutral, scientific word.


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QUOI  Identity Verified

Chinese to English
+ ...
I think it's a wonderful word Aug 28, 2008

The word "multicultural" (and its derivatives) has been over used to such an extent that it has become as a symbol that means everything and nothing.

My local area has a "multicultural kebab shop" (yes that's the shop's name) but sells the same flabour of kebab all year round. And next door to it is the "multicultural discount" store, although offering thousands of things, all seem to have come one country.

"Multiculturalism" the word has become Helvetica (BTW, there is a good doco on this font, worth watching) that you can use it anywhere and no body will get offended.

Use it and you can do no wrong.



[Edited at 2008-08-28 23:29]


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