Multicultural Approaches in Education: A German Experience   Multiculturalism in Early Childhood Programs
Carmen Treppte
Turkish Children and Mothers Project
Gelsenkirchen, Germany


"If we hate, we lose. If we love, we become rich," Philomena Franz, a German Sintiza--a female member of the Sinti people, often wrongly referred to as gypsies-writes in her autobiography (Franz, 1992). It is a simple but powerful message, and it summarizes in a few clear words the content of this paper.

This text is about learning in a multicultural context. It is not an outcome of academic research, nor has it been composed in the tradition of armchair anthropology. It describes the development of a project which began as an initiative in the field of preschool education to improve opportunities for Turkish migrant children, without expecting them to accomplish a one-sided process of assimilation. Hence the work of the project and its cooperating partners involved and affected a much wider range of people than the original target group, which accounts for the fact that in this paper relatively little will be said about Turkish children.

It seems rather presumptuous that these days a project in Germany should dare to talk about multiculturalism. In fact, its outcomes are by no means spectacular enough to make good headline material. And yet the effect it has had goes beyond the improvement of opportunities for Turkish migrant children in the narrow sense of the word. As a German father involved in the project once put it when talking to a journalist: "What we try to do here is to live together in peace. No more and no less."

Concepts of Multiculturalism

When in 1744 white settlers in Virginia renewed their offer to receive a group of Native American children and educate them, the spokesman of the Iroquois nation firmly opposed the proposition, claiming that the first group of children they had sent to the white man's school came back to their tribe knowing all sorts of things except what was needed to survive in their traditional environment: they were useless as runners, unable to endure hunger and cold; they did not have the slightest idea how to build a hut and were completely unqualified for hunting. In short, they were absolutely hopeless. And yet, the spokesman went on, the Iroquois were basically willing to cooperate. To show their appreciation, they proposed that, for a change, the Virginian settlers should send a dozen of their youngsters to have them educated by the Iroquois (Feest, 1976). Of course, the Virginian settlers never sent their sons.

Even today, over 200 years later, the anecdote sounds symptomatic of the problems children face when traditions and priorities of the home differ from those of the school, and symptomatic also of a multicultural situation in which one side has the power to impose its standards. If, however, pluralism exists without equality, ethnicity is likely to become a variable of social stratification.

Multicultural or intercultural education has for quite a long time been a topic of discussion among professionals who work with children of ethnic minorities. Recently, the concept of intercultural education in a multicultural society has been gaining a wider audience. For some of its advocates, it is a priority to promote the development of a European spirit or to enable people to communicate in what they consider "the global village" (Samovar and Porter, 1991).

If it is true that we are affected by the consequences derived from conflicts, wars, or severe environmental problems no matter where in the world they take place, we have to develop a consciousness of the interdependence of events and relations. Even more so, we need skills that enable us to negotiate effectively across borders. To others, this approach seems to be viewed as a remedy for solving increasing conflicts concerning migrants and refugees in their host society. If a multicultural society is a political fact which we have to face whether we like it or not, strategies are needed to enable its members to come to an understanding with each other, regardless of their ethnic, national, or religious background.

To some, multicultural education seems to be an additional subject that should be introduced into the school curriculum. To others, it is rather a life style with underlying principles that can and should be implemented in any educational situation. Some approaches suffer from political naivety or turn out to bear a sophisticated hidden potential for the assimilation and political neutralization of minority groups. Others are used by fundamentalist minority organizations and right-wing majority groups alike to plead for segregation for the sake of maintenance of cultural identity (Gill, Mayor, and Blair, 1992; Donald and Rattansi, 1992; Braham, Rattansi, and Skellington, 1992).

Are we talking about an approach which aims at improving a minority's ability to meet the standards of the majority? Or are we also expecting the majority to reconsider its own presuppositions? Some who, in line with a post-modern disposition, plead for overall cultural relativism, might easily get stuck considering seemingly culture-bound values and behavior patterns which are suspected of being incompatible with the achievements of the Enlightenment. "Shouldn't there be limits?" some will say at this point; "Just think of the Rushdie affair! Don't we in fact need a certain amount of Eurocentrism? It's not that we like to be chauvinistic, but isn't ours the best of all possible, or at least existing, worlds?" 1

In a book on cultural psychology, Richard Shweder (1991) writes:

One of the central myths of the modem period in the West is the idea that the opposition between religion-superstition-revelation and logic-science-rationality divides the world into then and now, them and us. According to this myth the world woke up and became good about three centuries ago when Enlightenment thinkers began to draw distinctions between things that pre-modern thinkers had managed to overlook (p. 2).

There is some ground for doubt, indeed. Bearing in mind the domestication of European women and the colonization of other peoples, it seems that Enlightenment was a limited agenda. Obviously, not everybody was meant to gain from its achievements. To really accomplish distinct but equal status for everybody, we have to reconsider our thinking and develop adequate strategies. At this stage, some practical experiences encountered in the microcosm of a project working with members of disadvantaged ethnic minorities might be of help.

The Turkish Children and Mothers Project

The project Turkish Children and Mothers started in late 1985, supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation and the Freudenberg Stiftung. At present, it is also funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Municipality of Gelsenkirchen. In the course of the years, an additional program for refugee families from Lebanon was set up with the support of the Lindenstiftung für vorschulische Erziehung (the Linden Foundation for preschool education).

The project is located in Gelsenkirchen, a town in the industrial area of the Ruhr Valley in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is based in the premises of a primary school in a marginalized part of the town. The area is one of the few regions where coal mines are still operating, though the mine in the neighborhood of the project might close down in the near future. During the 1960s, coal miners were recruited from Zonguldak, a Turkish province on the Black Sea, where coal deposits were discovered in the nineteenth century. Today, the unemployment rate in this part of town is above average and dependence on social welfare is on the increase. More and more children come from single parent families. The percentage of the non-German population is about twice as high as the town average. Deprived ethnic groups compete with one another for economic rewards, and consequently, interethnic conflicts are likely to occur. In areas like this, the lack of preschool facilities for non-German and non-Christian children is typical. Thus minority children face almost certain failure when they enter school because they have had no preparation.

It was against this backdrop that the project came into being. The objective was the organization of groups for five-year-old children to help them with linguistic, motor, and cognitive abilities, and social behavior for one year before school entry. Taking as its starting point the situation of preschool children, the project developed a varied set of community-oriented activities in the course of the years, some of which are outlined below. Other activities included a two-year home-visiting program on health and nutrition; work with refugees; work with second generation youth; and the production of toys and learning materials. Today, the project focuses on the dissemination of project experiences, while at the same time maintaining its community-based program.

The Children

Five-year-old Ahmet is of Kurdish origin and was born in Lebanon during the civil war. After leaving Beirut to escape from the war, the family settled in a house near the school. It has Lebanese residents only, a Turkish mosque on the ground floor, a view of the railway line dividing the backyards of the houses in the area, and the coal mine right in front of the house. Most of the families living in the street come from Turkey, and have been observing the so-called "Arab invasion" with a frown ever since refugees started to move in. Even those-in both communities-who have never heard of the Ottoman Empire, or do not know that during the First World War Turks and Arabs fought against each other, are sure "the people over there are not our friends. " To the sparse German neighbors, both communities look more or less the same.

In spite of this uninviting environment, and notwithstanding numerous problems with the administrative machinery of refugee custody, Ahmet's mother is happy to live in a situation that to others might look scarcely favorable. At least, she says, there is no bombing, and the children will go to school and get a good education. Though she has no school experience herself, she shows high respect for any kind of formal education that she believes will be of benefit to others. The teachers of her oldest daughter Samira, however, consider the mother indifferent to school affairs: a mother who, like so many others, is insensitive to what can be expected of cooperative parents who support their children in becoming school achievers.

Of this reputation, Samira's mother knows little. It never occurred to her that her daughter's school achievement might be her business: she believes that professionals know better and that "her sort doesn't have much of a chance anyway." At the age of five, Ahmet does not speak a single word of German, and sophisticated play materials are not to be found in the house. To the family, the best way to keep Ahmet quiet and soothe his temporary aggressive disposition is to let him watch his favorite Rambo video as often as possible. "All this blood, you know," his sister comments, "it reminds him of back home in Lebanon."

Mother Involvement

All the children and parents involved in the project have specific stories to tell. Usually, however, a life history that fits West European middle class views of child development is not to be found in the group. More often than not the lifestyles--including the allocation of resources--of professionals like educators, social workers, and teachers, and those of their clients, are miles apart. Professional unawareness of this easily leads to what John Rennie (1985) called one of the "educational ghosts": the notion of incompetent parents not interested in the child's achievement and unwilling to cooperates misinterpretation that all too easily leads to mechanisms through which schools tend to perpetuate inequality.

Four days a week, a group of preschool children comes to the project together with their mothers to spend the morning with the educator, while older siblings meet in the afternoon for playgroups or to do their homework. Mother involvement is particularly emphasized by the project. in order to prevent alienation within the family, and to break the cycle of deprivation by increasing the mothers' support and competence for the benefit of their offspring, mothers are drawn into the work with their children.

Thus the educator's behavior does not remain a never-ending mystery--"The children are just playing. Why don't you teach them anything?"--but becomes an activity which is transparent, shows visible effects--"How come she doesn't beat the children and yet they do what she wants?"--and can still be questioned without having to be afraid of sanctions--"I do think our way to raise children is better. The German kids don't have any discipline, don't you think?" Information is provided about the formal education system, and specific topics of child care are discussed in the group. Eventually, the mothers acquire the knowledge they need to fulfill their role as prime educators in perfect line with tradition. This is often difficult to cope with in a strange environment, where traditional concepts of child care might be no longer functional, or may even be counterproductive.

Mother involvement also encourages women to think for themselves by enabling them to identify their own needs, and make use of further education opportunities. Having lost the social net which in the village back home was provided by other women, often ill-prepared for the dynamics of the nuclear family, and not knowing the language and the "rules" of the host society, women often experience migration as a process of increasing seclusion. For many of the mothers the daily walk to the project is the first step in overcoming isolation.

It is usually only after a period of strengthening their own self-assurance that women are prepared to show any interest in work with their children. Over the years, a variety of courses have been established following the wishes of the mothers. In the long run, a considerable number of women develop a self-assertive attitude towards life, the outcome of which will probably far exceed the immediate aims of the current project, and those of the school. Some manage to create more cooperative structures in their relationships, or gain mobility by taking their driving test. Some search for jobs. "We have become important. Women who are important can achieve anything!"

This eventually also leads to an attitude change toward the achievements of their children. While in the beginning the drawings and other things the children had worked on were usually considered unimportant, and therefore carelessly overlooked or thrown away, today the little artists receive much admiration and their works are taken home and hung on the wall for others to see. It is only when mothers know that they themselves matter that they can encourage their children in developing self-esteem.

The Setting

The project's activities respond to specific needs of ethnic minorities in the catchment zone of the cooperating school. However, project activities are not meant to be exclusive. When the project started, the team looked for a base where a transfer of experiences to the formal system seemed feasible. After all, it did not make much sense to promote mother involvement for a whole year without having the prospect of longer term continuity once the children had entered school.

At that time, the school had just started to implement approaches of community education and intercultural education. To begin with, communication structures and modes of cooperation among the teaching staff were developed. Only after a basis of mutual consent had been established internally did the school reach out for the neighborhood. At this stage, the project began trying to play a mediating role and to support the school's efforts to respond more adequately to the needs of Turkish children and their parents.

When the children entered school, the educator cooperated with the first grade teacher in the classroom for the first months of school life. The transfer of project experiences led to regular home visiting activities by the teachers and to mothers' meetings in the classroom. Organizational changes improved the basis for parental involvement. Because they work in shifts, most of the fathers found it difficult to dispose of their time freely, while most of the Turkish mothers found it inappropriate to join an evening meeting. They did, however, show up in great numbers if they were invited to attend at a time in line with their values and the rhythm of the family's everyday life. By and by, a bond of trust was established, on the basis of which parents and teachers started to perceive each other as cooperative partners.

To Be Distinct but Equal

As a considerable number of German families in the school's catchment zone were regarded as marginal, it was important to establish a climate in which they would not feel excluded from, or disadvantaged by, activities oriented to a minority group. Literacy courses, German lessons, sewing and cooking groups, informational meetings and work parties for Turkish and Arab mothers that were set up by the project are now part of a community-oriented program that the school itself developed. Children can come back to school in the afternoon to do their homework, join a dance or music group, a sports group, and so on. They can borrow tapes and books in different languages, and they produce a newsletter. The youth board has set up a day care center. The school is a center where children and parents can contact others, take part in school life, and find opportunities to learn, regardless of their ethnic, national, or religious backgrounds.

In the school's Mother and Child Group, Ahmet's mother slowly started to give up her conviction that she would never be able to learn for herself. At the same time, Turkish mothers decided to reconsider their negative perceptions about Arabs. And while Ahmet's mother still prefers to attend a weekly tea party of Arab women only, some of the others have started to look for opportunities to meet together with German mothers. They have come to the conclusion that one can have a lot in common with people whose cultural background at first seems to be very different from one's own.

The approach taken has had an impact on proceedings in the classroom. For example, it has affected the way in which children are encouraged to refer to their cultural background as a resource for special skills, and the way people involved in the process establish relations with each other. Consequently, changes concerning the exchange of experiences between members of different cultures and between parents and professionals have occurred.

In the beginning, there was no difficulty in defining the target group which was to profit from the process: Turkish children and mothers, of course; Lebanese families, possibly; a couple of German coal miners, perhaps. Today we are not so sure. Once initiated, the process brought about changes and new perspectives for everybody involved: project staff, teachers, cleaning staff, the authorities. In fact, all of us became reamers, which for the project staff and its partners implied a growing awareness and modification of the professional role of teachers, social workers, and educators (Bernard van Leer Foundation, 1986; Bastiani, 1987). In its efforts to transform theory into action, the team had to face the fact that it had to stop preaching and learn to listen carefully to what people had to say. Thus, migrant and refugee mothers were not the only ones who underwent change, developed new skills, and questioned their most basic assumptions.

The Occupational Culture Revisited

I never went to kindergarten, and the only happy day of my school career I remember was the day I left for good-at least, that's what I thought at the time. To me, school was an institution that was boring, depressing, and incredibly out of touch with the everyday world of most of its consumers. It certainly did not feel good to be there. Today, I suspect that school tends to be a place not good to be in for a lot of teachers as well.

In a way, this is arrogant and Eurocentric: one must have access to resources before one decides not to appreciate the way in which they operate. But there are good reasons to question the formal system, its efficiency as a whole, and the impact it has on all those involved, and especially its impact on the children of minority groups. Why should one cooperate with the system's agencies? To some it might appear that a project operating independently of the formal system would be easier to realize in many respects, since it is less dependent on the need to adjust and compromise. But such a project would find it next to impossible to influence the shaping of relations between children, parents, and professionals outside the boundaries of a limited area.

Even taking into account the lack of preschool facilities, the problem in our part of the world is not so much the absence of infrastructure as such, but the way in which existing services operate. One example is the exclusion of, or discrimination against, a considerable number of people who are supposed to benefit from the system's resources. Literature regarding the impact that formal education has on members of disadvantaged groups provides abundant examples of how the system tends to perpetuate inequality, instead of realizing equal opportunities for all (Berger and Berger, 1976). Members of deprived ethnic groups are particularly liable to experience this negative effect. Today, the project emphasizes the dissemination and transfer of its experiences. Many of its addressees are part of the formal education system. Sensitization to the needs and constraints of cultural minorities is an important aspect of its work.

One of the cultural obstacles faced by the formal education system is that of professionalism. The system is likely to perpetuate inequality, as it tends to be oriented to middle-class values in its messages and in the approaches taken. The same is true for many social services. Members of cultural minorities tend to be either perceived as a problem or as a group of people that has problems; they are associated with deficiency and deviance. With this background, counseling agencies and professionals in the field of education tend to label clients belonging to cultural minorities as pathological. Patterns of behavior that are not in line with the counselor's theory of what is adequate are defined as unreasonable and inappropriate (Sue and Sue, 1990).

At the end of a parent-teacher meeting at school, one of the teachers initiated a discussion on the effectiveness of the style of communication usually applied. "Oh, there was this mother, you know. And I said, 'Well, your daughter is weak in math. You should practice with her.' And the woman looked at me and said 'Okay, I'll do it.' And off she went. We always tell parents what we expect them to do but we never explain to them what could be the right way of doing it. And thinking of the mother, how could she possibly know what I was talking about?"

Once the school's process of becoming more open had begun, the professionals saw themselves confronted with a set of new situations demanding new skills. There was a decline in hierarchical structures and a changing attitude on the part of parents, who showed an increasing tendency to no longer take for granted what professionals said, but to expect convincing arguments.

It can be challenging to be unable to withdraw into hierarchical power structures when somebody who holds less formal authority starts defending differing opinions. Teachers who were accustomed to talking about children's progress in class felt insecure about how to react when parents started to discuss their family problems. Sometimes they felt it was difficult to integrate their newly gained insights into the living conditions of children and parents, or they felt that the responsibility for unfamiliar problems was more than they could cope with. The process brought about the necessity to exchange views and cooperate with colleagues in other fields of work who were likely to look at a problem from a different angle and come to different conclusions.

The professional's potential for cultural arrogance is high and by no means limited to those working in the formal system. The tendency of professionals to display cultural arrogance can be intentional, but often it is not. It can be based on consciously assuming that one knows better because of one's vocational background; often it isn't. It can be due to the quality of the professional's vocational training or the degree to which the professional is unconscious of his or her motives and capacities. Unfortunately, it is often reinforced by the need for constant self-adulation, and by the success-seeking that results from a lack of job security.

There are key questions concerning professional self-image and the resulting attitudes and behavior that have to be discussed. Professionals must ask, Why do I want to help? Do I want to show everybody how very clever I am? Am I striving for confirmation and approval? Do I promote dependency instead of facilitating the development of self-reliance? Am I hiding behind the label of professionalism? Am I striving for power? In terms of disadvantaged groups, am I prepared to give up at least some of my own privileges?

Professionals or not, people are human beings who are not always holy or infallible. They often have to work under a lot of pressure. Their ambition to realize nice-sounding visions may be negatively affected by legal and bureaucratic restrictions. They may be expected to compensate for problems that are rooted outside the educational system. Even a well-functioning formal system pursuing innovative approaches is still a formal system and subject to specific limitations and structural constraints.

Still, there is a potential for change that may contribute to both an increase in equal opportunities for disadvantaged children and to the quality of life of professionals. Professionals may find out, as was the case in this setting, that although life is becoming more demanding, it is also becoming more interesting and more satisfying as far as the quality of human relationships is concerned.


There is a whole set of ingredients that the project's approach is based on. Many of them came into consciousness only in the course of the work. One aspect given priority was the question of how to operate in a multicultural setting and take into consideration the impact of culture-bound influences. How do people recognize at first sight that in this building there are children and people from more than one cultural background? is still a key question we often ask when entering a new multicultural setting. We also ask, Are the people working in this building used to being greeted in passing, regardless of their nationality, job, and social position? Trite as these questions might sound, the answers they provide often hint at the quality of the work and the climate in which it is effected.

Design of the Premises

On entering the project's office, there will be little doubt about a certain affinity with the Near East. As a Turkish social worker once put it: "When you leave home to live in another country, your identity is threatened easily. You're likely to lose your bearings. Whenever I feel lost, I come to sit in your office. It helps me to find the bits and pieces I lost on the way."

Of course, the issue is more complex than it sounds. Pictures showing Anatolian village life might look rather exotic and out of place to Turkish visitors with urban backgrounds. The tapestry on the wall showing Mecca was highly appreciated by the imam of the local mosque when he came for a visit, but left-wing intellectuals tend to be less sympathetic. Traditional costumes are admired as exceptional artifacts of skilled handiwork by some and rejected by others as symbols of the seclusion of Muslim women. Turkish women of the neighborhood sometimes find it hard to understand the team's liking for traditional weaving: "Oh that ... no need to make so much fuss about it. I used to do it when I was a young girl. I'm glad to see no more of it."

Of course, one doesn't need elaborate decorating material to start working. In addition, one might argue that our understanding of design is rather unscrupulous: there are a lot of different ways to have an affinity to the Near East and still feel comfortable in Western Europe. Of course, the arrival of the Lebanese refugees contributed to the design. In fact, the decoration-and not only the decoration-is open for change; it does not necessarily have to stay oriental.

Before the school in which the project is based changed its image-on the initiative of a new headmistress-there were signs on the walls telling parents they were not allowed to "disturb" classes. At least these signs were bilingual. Apart from that, there was next to nothing to create an atmosphere in which children or adults from varying cultural backgrounds were likely to feel comfortable.

This has now changed considerably, and there is quite a lot of evidence that school has become a place where people feel at home. The decoration of the house reflects the various cultural backgrounds of the children, while at the same time brings into consciousness a much wider perspective.

Need Orientation

It was said that lack of preschool facilities is a characteristic of the marginalized families with whom the project works. Of course, preschool facilities are not the only facilities that are lacking. Once in contact with the project, people started to bring up all sorts of problems that they were facing: a husband spending most of the family income on drink; quarrels with neighbors; conflicts with official authorities; housing; unemployment; disabilities; diseases; delinquency. The structure of a professional world in which life is split into distinct and sometimes rather absurd spheres of responsibility did not make much sense to the families. The attitude seems to be that "If you're working in preschool education, the older sister's problem at school is not your business, nor is the father's conflict with the foreign police." However, if you want the families to trust you, you've got to react to their needs.

This is not to say the project rises to meet each and every expectation, thus absorbing its staff in trying to do everything. But project staff did feel the need to respond by establishing activities going beyond the promotion of the development of five-year-old children. And they did feel the need to contact the relevant organizations to cooperate, mediate and sensitize existing social services to the needs and expectations of cultural minorities. Again, this is not only relevant to the Turks. On starting to work with German parents, the school had similar experiences. In consequence, a process was initiated in the course of which other professionals who traditionally operate outside the school system were introduced into the building.

Given the background outlined above, staff in a similar project might have to start working from quite an unexpected angle in order to achieve their objectives. Mothers will not share their priority of discussing early childhood education issues as long as they don't know how to pay the electricity bill. There's no use discussing the value of mother involvement during a home visit as long as the father expects a staff member to help him fill in some challenging forms he doesn't understand.

Access to Information

Access to information can be vital to improving a marginal situation. A lot of women claimed that, before coming to the project, they did not know whom to ask when there was a problem and where to go to get it solved. They found it difficult to support their children's chances of school achievement when they had no schooling themselves and, in addition, did not know how the German school system worked.

Again, it is not only those who come from the shores of the Black Sea who lack access to information. When the project started to train mothers about how to support their first grade children effectively in doing their homework, it was taken for granted that Turkish mothers need this kind of support. It was only when, two years later, a teacher started working with German parents on the same issue that their identical needs became apparent.

Access to information and provision of new skills are needed to develop efficient techniques of self-help. We should, however, bear in mind that to perceive members of (cultural) minorities as deficient or deprived in the first place can be misleading. This approach, all too easily, tends to lead to a "person-blame model" (Sue and Sue, 1990).

Supply and Demand

On visiting a community center in another part of the country, we were told by the staff that "As you know, working with Turkish mothers is very difficult. It's consuming, really. No matter what you do, they hardly ever respond. They definitely lack motivation." The woman in charge had decided that in order to best serve the needs of Turkish mothers it would be a good idea to start a German language course. In the beginning, a couple of women attended, but they did not return as the course went on. In discussing the problem with the woman in charge, she claimed that of course Turkish women should learn German: "Without any German it's impossible for them to find their way in society." Unfortunately, the target group did not seem to share the professional's perception of this state of affairs.

When leaving the building, we met a group of Turkish women sitting on a bench near the playground watching their children play. "Oh yes," one of them said, "we know the house. I went a couple of times to learn German. But, you see, it was much too difficult. I mean, I'm illiterate, I don't even read and write Turkish. I found it impossible to follow the course."

There is always a great potential to do the wrong things based on best intentions. The women in question might have decided that, before learning a foreign language, it would have made sense to be literate in their mother tongue. If only they had been asked.

It's always easier to advise other people on how to approach a problem adequately than to live up to elegantly verbalized standards oneself. When talking about responding sensitively to needs formulated by the families coming to the project instead of imposing our own standards, examples of professional failure come to mind all too easily. How do you manage to perceive needs if they are put forward in a manner you are not familiar with? A Turkish woman might have formulated her wishes ages ago while you're still waiting for her to be what we appreciate as being outspoken and saying: "This is what I want!"

You might be so absorbed developing concepts and general rules of procedures that you don't receive the message if it doesn't fit the schedule. For example, for years it was taken for granted that sewing courses were an adequate means for initial access to secluded Turkish women. In our project women never showed the slightest interest in sewing until literacy and language courses had long been established. Years later, the women decided they wanted to learn dressmaking.

Bargaining across Borders

There is more to working in a multicultural setting than providing the means for a minority to adjust to the standards defined by somebody else. There are a whole lot of everyday situations in which it can be very important for staff to take into account the cultural background of the people they work with if they want to be capable of acting. For example, when the project began, there was a group of German mothers who met once a week to chat and do needlework. At that time the relationship between Turks and Germans in the neighborhood could be defined as somewhere between tense and nonexistent. Based on some sort of common sense logic-which they had hardly reflected on-the team decided to bring the two groups together, arguing: "It's ridiculous that there should be a group of German women and a group of Turkish women meeting in the same house, on the same day, on the same floor, doing the same things, and yet ignoring each other, isn't it?"

In those days, spending time in the project was still quite a new experience for the Turkish mothers, which made them feel rather insecure. There were considerable tensions between the various subgroups, which varied in regional and ethnic descent as well as in lifestyle, and a rather deeply rooted feeling of being rejected by the host society.

The German group considered itself open-minded, as it had integrated a participant of Turkish descent but of German nationality who took care not to display any kind of behavior and attitudes that the German women could have labeled distinct or strange. Both the German and the Turkish groups claimed that they had a general (rather abstract) interest in getting to know the other side, which today I think was mainly due to an attempt at being polite to professionals who "always know better." The German group had been long established at school. In addition, its members were perceived as natives by the Turkish women, who felt that, for the time of the meeting, they themselves were the guests, with the German women being considered as hosts. As usual, some of the German women had brought biscuits and put them on the table. And there they all sat staring at each other. What on earth do you talk about in a situation like that?

Irritated, the German women decided to have their biscuits and cakes. The Turkish women gave them some sort of dramatic stare, accompanied by a solemn silence which made the German women eat even faster. When the meeting was over, the Turkish women declared they never wanted a repeat of that situation. They made a point of "the Germans bringing their own biscuits and keeping them all for themselves."

From the Turkish women's point of view, this was the limit-clear evidence of the utmost bad manners! And apart from that, it was a hidden symbol of rejection. "They don't want us to be around. That's why!" the Turkish women thought. The German group never came to understand the point. They thought that, of course, anybody can eat biscuits as long as there is something on the table; it's not necessary to make such a fuss about guests, asking them to help themselves before thinking about taking something yourself. A Turkish woman, on the other hand, would generally make sure that everybody else got their share first.

In the end, both sides had found considerable evidence for what they had known perfectly well beforehand: Germans know that "Turkish women are suppressed, reserved, don't speak up in public, and don't want to get into contact with other people." Turks know that "Germans don't like Turks, are cold and egoistic, and have no manners." The woman of Turkish descent holding a German passport was in a quandary, finding it impossible to mediate. The Turkish women at that time tended to compensate for their feelings of inferiority by claiming to hold the monopoly on superior moral values, treating the outsider as a traitor of the Turkish nation. On the other hand, the latter found herself under strong pressure to adjust to the expectations of the German group if she wanted to be accepted. The misinterpretations and mistakes which manifested themselves in the example are manifold:

  1. staff did not behave in accordance with its own postulated theory of operating on the grounds of needs formulated by the community;
  2. one group applied inadequate patterns to interpret the other group's behavior;
  3. misinterpretations tend to have a stronger and negative impact if the power structure between the groups involved is not symmetrical, or is influenced by negative previous experiences. 2

Years later, the wish to contact "the other side" was formulated by the women themselves. Today, the same kind of misunderstandings still occur but they don't have the same kind of impact, as those involved have gained in self-assurance.

In a multicultural setting, it is of little help to presume that everything will be easy as long as everybody behaves naturally-which usually means "the way I do." Nor is it useful to assume that no relationship is possible because people are so very different. Staff should learn to read the various codes involved to be able to adjust the expectations of either side. But how is this done?

In a book on cross-cultural communications, Samovar and Porter (1991) define culture as:

... the deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving (p. 51).

In order to understand how culture might influence the thinking and perception of, and behavior to, other people, it can help to define building blocks and organize patterns of culture which bear a potential for different concepts and misunderstandings. These might include concepts of time and space, nonverbal communication, styles of verbal communication, behavior patterns, and values. These items tend to be less specific to a certain culture than we might expect, and they often characterize the difference between industrialized and other societies. More often than not, industrialized societies operate on the basis of a linear, progress-oriented world view. Other societies tend to operate on circular, organic patterns. 3 Some of the crucial facets which are susceptible to misunderstandings are outlined below.

Concept of Time

When the project started, the cleaning staff found it rather difficult to adjust to the new situation. They were expected to leave the school door open. For years it had been closed in the afternoon. The cleaning staff felt embarrassed: "We might get robbed." They no longer controlled the situation: "Anybody can pop in and out at any time." The weekly afternoon tea party for Turkish women started at three o'clock. To the cleaning staff, it seemed all too logical to open the door at five minutes to three and close the door about ten minutes later. However, a realistic estimation of the mothers' time of arrival would be any time between two thirty and four thirty.

Week after week, Turkish women were locked out. Week after week, the cleaning staff was upset. Occasionally, the team was locked in for a change: "You don't expect people to stay in an office after five, do you?" Things went on like that for about six months. We spent an incredible amount of time discussing the various aspects of opening hours with all parties involved. 4

The point is that, during these months, people involved in the process started to establish a relationship, getting to know each other and trying to see things from the other's point of view. By and by, the atmosphere changed. Today, the door is always open until at least six, while most of the Turkish women tend to be punctual in the German sense of the word. 5

We should bear in mind, however, that sometimes differences in concept and behavior do not so much indicate culture-bound values of a certain ethnic group, but rather have to be regarded as characteristics of marginalization. Lebanese women joining the weekly tea party proposed that, each week, one of them should be phoned by the teacher on the morning of the day they were expected to come. They argued that in the situation they live in-lacking perspectives, with nothing to do and nowhere to go-they find it difficult to remember the day of the week. It just doesn't make any difference whether it's Monday or Thursday. Of course, we take it for granted that our way of organizing and defining sequences of time is rational and the only possible way to do it. Yet, it is not. 6 There are cultures which developed different modes of organization. From the example given above, however, one could hardly conclude that ignorance of weekdays was a Kurdish/Lebanese cultural trait.

Concept of Space

Gender segregation is still valued by the Turkish community. In order to be able to come to the project, most women needed to be sure the place is safe and decent. They tended to handle this rule rather flexibly, however, as long as the decision was left to them.

Among other examples concerning different concepts relating to space is that the distance between two persons which is considered adequate can vary from culture to culture. Cross-cultural communication counselor E.T. Hall (1990) gives an example:

Americans who have spent some time in Latin America without learning these space considerations make other adaptations, like barricading themselves behind their desks, using chairs and typewriter tables to keep the Latin American at what is to us a comfortable distance. The result is that the Latin American may even climb over the obstacles until he has reached a distance at which he can comfortably talk (p. 53).

Turkish and Arab women in the project might not go as far as to climb over obstacles. They do tend, however, to sit close to each other and to be quite expressive in their body language, touching each other or holding each other's hand. To German visitors this can be irritating, and sometimes is associated with obtrusiveness or disregard if they are exposed to the same kind of treatment. 7

Nonverbal Communication

On visiting a Turkish family at home, a German female teacher seems to take a particular interest in the father. Sitting close to him, she looks in his face in a concentrated and affectionate way, trying to express general sympathy and willingness for cooperation on behalf of the child. As the father is the only family member who speaks German, she feels that it is easier to address him directly instead of the mother, with whom she must rely on the bilingual colleague to translate what she wants to say. Coming from a cultural background which emphasizes verbal skills, she might feel helpless in addressing the mother on the basis of nonverbal communication skills. In addition, she might be backed up by the misleading stereotype that in a Turkish family it is usually the men who make decisions.

Meanwhile, the mother recollects abounding stories of neighborhood husbands having gone off with German women. As time goes by, the father gets this ambitious look in his eyes which should be reserved for female coffee house acquaintances-as he might not have had many other contacts with German women, there's little to correct his perception of the situation. The mother of the house has meanwhile left the room-the welcoming smile deep frozen-and is watching the teacher suspiciously from a distance.

Nonverbal communication is important, as it influences first impressions and helps us to judge the reliability and credibility of what is actually said. With the emphasis on verbalization, we tend to underestimate the amount of nonverbal messages we send, often without being aware of them and the impact they have (Samovar and Porter, 1991). In addition, the extent to which people express themselves by gestures and facial play can differ from culture to culture. Patterns of interpretation are just as likely to cause considerable, and sometimes incompatible, differences.

Communication Styles

Being a Christian, a young Arab refugee once claimed I should be careful never to invite Muslims into my house-it being bad enough to work with them. "You can't trust them, you know. No way," he said. After having used all the rational arguments that I could think of, I let my fist fall on the table, yelling at the man that, for people of his thinking, there was no place in my house. This was by no means a cross-cultural communication strategy-I had simply lost my temper. The young man leaned back, giving me a big, affectionate "you're part of the family" smile, and said, "This was wonderful. Just like back home. I am happy, very happy indeed. This is the first time since I left my home country that I am having a serious conversation. When can we go on?" Two days later his friends arrived, having heard that here was a place where people could have a decent discussion about topics of general interest. Within a week, the young man went to see our Muslim colleague to invite him to his home.

European travelers in the Near East filled many pages labeling the Arabs as the noisiest people on earth. Germans present during an Arab conversation easily mistake expression of emotions for liability to violence, thus coming to the conclusion that they are about to witness a fight. Again, the interpretation of different concepts of behavior goes hand in hand with prejudice.

Just as there are differences in interpreting volume and expressiveness, there may be differing attitudes concerning the display of emotions, the priority of securing harmony, or the value of not provoking a situation in which the other is likely to lose face (Sue and Sue, 1990). While the Turkish people might tend to think that Germans are rather rude and direct, the latter might develop a theory of their own about Turkish people never saying what they really think-in fact, they do, but it may not be noticed.

In project life, the (German) professional's inclination to control the situation by prearranged agendas is likely to ensure failure. A lot of things might take place at the same time instead of one after the other as they should, according to linear thinking. Clients might not share the professional's concept of a confidential counseling situation. People might not show up for a meeting at all, because they are having visitors. "Why not tell them you have to go to a meeting?" the professional might grumble. Whereas to the clients, not to show up in a case like that is in perfect line with logic (Hall, 1989).

Values and Behavior Patterns

When training international managers to become cross-culturally skilled negotiators, D.A. Foster (1992) uses proverbs. Participants are asked to fill out a sentence starting with "God helps those who..." American participants usually write down...... help themselves." Asian participants tend to add things like "God helps those who help others." Foster adds:

I remember one gentleman from Thailand who refused to believe that Westerners really thought this way. 'After all,' he said, 'how can you help others if you are only helping yourself?' (p. 80).

We have a German equivalent of the American proverb and it is quite likely that Turkish or Arab participants in Foster's training courses would produce an answer similar to the one of the Asian colleague.

Of all the cultural differences concerning values, behavior patterns and philosophies of life, perceptions of the role of the individual seem to be particularly crucial. Anything that seems to question individual liberty and the postulates of the Enlightenment tends to touch the very nerve of Western European and North-American self image.' In international management encounters, conflicts arise when, during negotiation, North Americans proceed from the assumption of individual decision taking. Their Japanese counterparts value group orientation and, in addition, may insist on a process of establishing personal relationships before talking about business at all.

What Germans might see as an unacceptable suppression of the individual's right to live up to his or her full potential of personal development, Turkish counterparts might see as a natural subordination of personal interest for the benefit of the family or community. 9

In the course of a panel discussion with Arab women writers in Amsterdam, a European journalist described her frustrating experiences regarding the suppression of women's talents in the Near East. Luckily, she summarized, here they were, sitting around a table, with a small handful of Arab women who had "made it," women who had managed to hold an independent position as self-reliant and successful individuals. The Western European audience applauded, but the Arab women writers were far from being impressed. "I'm definitely not to be reduced to the role of an independent individual!" one of them claimed repeatedly. "I am what I am because of my people, and because of my family. And this I will never forget!"

Individual Options

When we read about characteristics of groups, we might easily feel misunderstood or personally ill-treated when reference is made to the group to which we ourselves belong in terms of culture or ethnicity. Our reaction tends to be: "This is not me," or, at least, "I am more than that. "

Books on cross-cultural communication have to provide generalizations in order to be useful. At the same time, however, they usually make it very clear that whatever they say is to be understood as guidelines, tendencies, or possibilities. Individual behavior is influenced not only by culture-bound elements, but also by personal experiences and subgroup membership. In addition, cultures are not isolated, static units; they constantly shift and change. Accordingly, the examples presented above relate to conflicts and misunderstandings that can happen, but by no means follow any inevitable law of nature.

During an in-service training session in a neighboring town, the following exchange occurred:

"By the way, do you ever manage to diminish the suppression of Turkish women? I mean, head scarfs and all that?

"What makes you think all Turkish women are suppressed?"

"Oh, come on, you can't fool me. I have a Turkish boy in my class. His mother is not even allowed to leave the house!"

"Did the woman tell you this is the way she feels?"

"What do you mean, did she tell me? You know very well they are not allowed to talk!"

To put theory into practice seems to be difficult. It is common place knowledge in the social sciences that we need generalizations to reduce complexity and make everyday life manageable. If, however, the generalizations are not open to challenge and change, they easily become stereotypes that are impervious to logic and experience (Sue and Sue, 1990). In dealing with members of another culture, we tend to subsume them under a homogenous and often discriminating image of what we think "these people" are like. Often enough, this is the best way to provoke exactly the kind of behavior we expect; not so much because this is what they are like, but because we didn't give them a chance to show a different kind of behavior. When it comes to dealing with disadvantaged minorities, their members more often than not are left with the choice between various alternatives of being deviant. What we deny them, in fact, is the right to display individuality which, among other things, at times appears to be a white monopoly.

Cross-Cultural Communication As an Eye Opener

The project does not aim at the establishment of a nostalgic variety of Turkestans. Its approach implies information about culture-bound values and behavior patterns as well as a knowledge of political, social, and economic forces on minority groups. It implies acceptance of differences without making children and parents hostages tied to a particular culture as a result of their ethnic origin (CERI, 1989). Cultures are changeable and permeable entities, and there has to be room for individual options in the dynamic between personal and social identity.

Besides, we are not suggesting that every element in a culture is beautiful and has to be accepted just because it is a specific cultural trait. But it is only when people feel accepted instead of having their backs to the wall that they can develop the concept of potential change-to the extent they feel appropriate to their individual situation, and at a speed they think they can cope with.

The outcome of multicultural education is often somewhat mysteriously described as an experience of mutual enrichment. This, however, does not mean an accumulation of folkloric artifacts such as exotic food and Turkish folk dance groups (Parker, 1992). Everyday life in a multicultural situation also implies conflicts and the search for conflict resolution, mediation, and compromise. It is a process in which we can learn about the other only if we are willing to learn more about ourselves. Based on dialogue, it can be "an act of criticism and liberation, as well as of discovery" (Shweder, 1991, p. 110).

But how do we get there? If we want to support minorities, we have to work with the majority as well. And if we want to change other people's minds, there is good reason to take into account the probability of having to change a bit of ourselves as well.

The Intercultural Perspective

In Germany, as in many other countries, it's natural that a taxi should have a taximeter, thus providing us with a sense of objectivity and reliability of the price we have to pay. Could it be any different? In Turkey a lot of the taxis do not have taximeters. In fact, there might be very good reasons to avoid one that has. Only a fool would assume the objective validity of a fair price, just because it is written somewhere. How do you know the taximeter has not been manipulated? To newcomers, going by taxi in Turkey can be irritating. Most probably, however, they will be rewarded for their efforts. In Turkey, you don't just go by taxi; you establish a relationship with the driver.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that we should get rid of taximeters-though I do have a personal liking for going by taxi the Turkish way-I'm just trying to say there are different ways to reach a goal. A lot of them seem to be effective, at least in a given context. 10 And there might be good reasons to suggest that at least some-if not all-of them should be open to discussion.

Perception is not just a biological process. It implies socially learned skills and interpretation patterns. Usually, we take it for granted that things are the way we learned to see them and we tend to repress any evidence that other worlds might exist, and, even worse, claim validity. 11 Our perception of the "otherness" of other people is often based on two principal models of procedure which:

  1. deny or ignore the existence of cultural differences. "We are all the same kind of people"; or
  2. perceive differences as evidence of inferiority and deviance, idealization being the other side of the coin. 12

What we need is to develop an intercultural perspective, that is, to first accept the fact that values, attitudes, and modes of looking at life that are different from our own might exist, be significant, and even be effective.

To Get to Know One's Own Cultural Baggage

What offends members of cultural minorities often is not so much that the other side shows wrong behavior and is not sensitive to the do's and don'ts of their own cultural context. What really hurts is the negation of the minorities' everyday experience of having to question the validity of what they learned to be normal, adequate, logical, or valid. Or, as a Turkish father once put it:

They don't even realize I'm trying to compromise. And in a situation like this, I don't mind if they hurt me. It's nearly inevitable; often enough, they don't mean it. If only just once they would notice that I have to act in contrast to my cultural baggage and that they constantly expect me to change.

Long before the school started to initiate a dialogue between the churches and the mosque in the area, a group of Turkish women decided to take part in a Catholic church service. On coming out one of them said: "You know, I never quite believed what people are saying about Christians. But now? I couldn't believe my ears! These folks do pray to three different gods at a time. It's really shocking, don't you think?"

To see oneself reflected in the mirror of another culture can be amusing as well as irritating. The embarrassment we are likely to feel in such moments can be a revelation and sensitize us to everyday communication patterns which constantly put members of ethnic minorities under pressure to defend or justify their strange, exotic customs. Can we really be sure that our interpretation of other people's values or behavior patterns is more adequate than the other way round? German project visitors tend to take it for granted that women who cover their hair are suppressed and those who don't are liberated. The women concerned sometimes feel hurt by the labeling process in which they don't have a say. Sometimes they just laugh wholeheartedly. It might be helpful to bear in mind that, as Lawrence of Arabia wrote in his famous book, a lot of his Arab fellow combatants thought the British habit of wearing hats had to do with the sinful bearers' futile attempts to protect their guilty eyes from meeting the reproachful gaze of God (Lawrence, 1962).

Intercultural relations can be irritating. Being based on dialogue, however, they offer vast opportunities for a self-reflexive, open-ended process in the course of which we can learn as much about ourselves as about other cultures. "However, understanding oneself and understanding others are closely related processes. To do one, you must start with the other, and vice versa" (Hall, 1989).

Once, during a training session, a Turkish nurse complained about the priorities adopted by German experts discussing Turkish manners. "You're always talking about the Turks. It's always us who have to explain, to justify, to question. Would anybody please try to explain to me 'German culture' right now?"

In the end, after a journey halfway across the world, we might come back to face our own share of the story. When reflecting on how to develop skills for cross-cultural communication, we are not talking about accumulating as much information about the Turks, or whatever group, as possible. We are talking above all about how to develop a deeper awareness of our own cultural baggage, its history of origin in a given context, and the impact it has on our beliefs, modes of behavior and expectations in relation to other people. In this respect, working in a multicultural context can be an eye opener, and eventually make us realize that "the trouble I have with him is with me" (Hall, 1989). (See also Kristeva, 1988; Erdheim, 1982.)

Knowledge about Other Cultures

When a black psychiatrist in the United States asked the National Institute of Mental Health to set up an institute or task force to study racism or white supremacy, he was told, "We will set up an institute to study minority groups. " In other words, "we won't study ourselves, but we will study you" (Weinberg, 1977).

It seems to be a commonly shared belief that the one-sided accumulation of knowledge about minority groups is the appropriate step to take. And who else could be better prepared for that than Europeans looking back on a long tradition of exploring and evaluating other cultures (CERI, 1989)? We should not, however, ignore the fact that this tradition belongs to the context of European expansion and colonization of other peoples. More often than not, our knowledge accumulated on the way is biased. Stereotypes of biased "intercultural relationships" can be traced down to children's rhymes, adventure books, comics, and other media we deal with in the course of our socialization.

In this regard, additional information about a minority's cultural background tends to confirm preconceived notions rather than provoke a change of attitude on either side, especially as stereotyping does not allow a perception of the individual differences and of the strengths and resources that members of a given minority have to offer.

Members of different cultures do not meet in a vacuum. They have a past and a present to contend with, and both are often characterized by a history of inequality in inter-relationships. In this respect, multicultural education cannot be reduced to a one-sided process of improving a minority's chances to adjust to the status quo. It is about changing white attitudes as well-perhaps more than anything else.

Looking for New Perspectives

Due to one of the numerous surprises that social bureaucracy has ready for the innocent observer, the catchment zone of a day care center was cleared of its marginal German population, the families having been given new housing in the course of a reintegration program. Practically overnight, the German staff of the day care center was confronted with a unique situation: there were people from all over the world who neither understood each other nor the educators. Describing her work, one of the staff said, "You know, there is this family from Zaire. I mean these people come right out of the bush. No civilization, nothing! Luckily, I know some French, so there is at least some communication possible with the parents."

Basically, the professionals were left alone feeling they could cope with neither their own occupational roles nor with the problems of the families coming to the center. One might wonder about the concept of civilization presented in the example, and question how people manage to learn French in a place where there is "nothing." Working to develop a growing awareness of one's learned racist attitudes, however, is one thing; the underlying structure in the situation described is another: in this example, interculturalism was programmed for failure. What happens in a multicultural everyday situation often is not a question of incompatible differences between human beings but the result of an unequal distribution of resources and inappropriate policies to cope with the effects of multiculturalism.

To be sensitive to cross-cultural communication skills is en vogue, for the most varied reasons. Advertising experts see to it that symbols, colors, and slogans employed in the presentation of their products should not become counterproductive to the objectives of sales psychology (Dulfer, 1991). International business managers participate in training courses to become cross-culturally skilled negotiators. This should sensitize us to the fact that underlying motives of those who speak in favor of the issue are not always entirely altruistic.

Not without reason has the approach of multicultural education been called "the latest and most liberal variant of the assimilationist perspective" (Troyna, 1992). The hidden dangers easily come into consciousness when we follow the dispute between multiculturalists and anti-racists (Gill, Mayor, and Blair, 1992; Finkielkraut, 1987). Among other labels, the different means of understanding and putting into practice approaches of multicultural or intercultural education have been accused of being ineffective, idealistic, discriminatory, and even segregative by artificially maintaining boundaries (Donald and Rattansi, 1992).

In fact, we tend to suspect that members of other cultures hide behind nebulous traits of everlasting strangeness. Often enough, in doing so, we reproach them for holding onto communication obstacles we ourselves set up in the first place. Ever since Commodore Perry landed on the Japanese coast in the middle of the 19th century, the Japanese were labeled as being very different and difficult to understand. As they seemed to be reserved and withdrawn, most efforts to describe and analyze their "national character" achieved little more than the stabilization of their image of being incomprehensible: obviously, they didn't want to be understood. Looking at Perry's report of the mission, we find that on going ashore, the crew had received strict orders to listen carefully to anything they heard, but to give as little information as possible themselves. A few pages later, the same report complains about the Japanese being uncommunicative and evasive about the most simple things they were asked (Barr, 1988).

When all is said and done, we are not so much talking about technical rules to facilitate intercultural acrobatics, but about how people come together in a given context, and what they can make of the situation they are in. People involved in our project experience the change process. In living and working together, they came to achieve a greater awareness of themselves, a better understanding of other people, and eventually enlarged their options (Geertz, 1973; Rabinow, 1977; Clifford and Marcus, 1986). The process, once started, is open ended. The development of, for instance, the mathematical sciences, or theflamenco, or the books of Hanif Kureishi and others gain their strength from the integration of many cultural facets.

To be able to use distinctness as a potential for creativity, we have to realize that there is no such thing as "the Turk' and "the German." To take into account the possibility of culture-bound differences is one thing; to insist on their existence, another. To declare them insurmountable, is ridiculous in argument, and may result in fatal consequences.


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(1) For this discussion, see Webster (1990); Ahmed (1992); Mernissi (1992).

(2) This mechanism comes across very vividly in Forster (1924).

(3) In literature, commonly used classification systems include polychronic vs. monochromic; low context vs. high context, and sociocentric vs. egocentric. See Hall (1989 and 1990); Hofstede (1991); Harris, (1989); Foster (1992).

(4) Maybe this process was similar to the kind of group consent Japanese businessmen are trying to achieve in their companies, while American managers spend their time complaining about how much time it takes to conclude business in the Far East.

(5) It should be made clear that we are talking about an adjustment of expectations, not behavior. Stereotyped adjustments to behavior patterns can lead to complications. See Foster (1992), p. 34.

(6) For examples, see Wimmer (1990), p. 45 ff.

(7) A certain readiness of body contact between males and females, on the other hand, can be a misleading signal to Turkish people.

(8) For examples, see Foster (1992), p. 73 ff.; Sue and Sue (1990), p. 39.

(9) The clash between these concepts causes severe intergenerational conflicts between parents and adolescents of Turkish descent who grow up in Western Europe.

(10) The application of one's own orientation can look rather absurd when applied in the context of another culture. See Theroux (1971); and Ghosh (1986).

(11) Hence the importance that Japanese lifestyle has in publications on cross-cultural relations. Given the economic success of the country in capitalist business structures, it is evident that differing modes of social organization, values, and behavior patterns cannot be so easily labelled inferior. They have to be coped with. See, among others, van Wolferen (1990).

(12) Todorov's analysis of how Columbus organized his perception of the unknown provides vivid examples of how both strategies can be applied by the same person. See chapter 1 in Todorov (1982).