Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Clash of Cultures

A few weeks back, I received an invitation (in German) from the Mayor of Hattingen. It was an invite for all new residents of Hattingen to join the Mayor for some cake and coffee. Even though I’ll be returning to the states soon, we decided to attend yesterday’s invite because I thought it would be cool to meet the Mayor of Hattingen. I never met the Mayor of Chicago, so I might as well meet the mayor of the city I live in now. I enjoy the beauty and historic nature of Hattingen, and will miss it. Since this is a small town, I thought it would be like a small meet and greet—a welcome to all new residents. Nein.

First off, it was very disappointing, and second, it made me realize how different cultures are in the way of presentations. I’ve worked in Corporate America for many years and I know the do’s and don’t’s of how to do a presentation. Granted, people are not required to follow ‘America’s’ way, but there were a few things that I felt lacked common sense. But if the Mayor of Hattingen was to follow these ways, she failed miserably. My Love translated (not everything) to me so I knew what was going on. They ushered everyone into a room, about 75 people and a panel of 6 people, including the Mayor, sat at a table in the front of the room. When the Mayor started talking, she didn’t introduce herself and instead talked about the city budget. Huh? I’ve learned, and it's common sense, to first introduce yourself and the others who will be talking. The only reason I knew it was the Mayor was because my Love told me.

The Mayor then moved to the side wall (standing) while they put on a so-called film. Whoever planned this should not have left the Mayor standing against a side wall. There was nothing about this ‘film’ that would be considered a film—it was a collection of slides and words with pictures. After the 3 minute film, they opened up the blinds and the Mayor spoke and then introduced a man.

This man talked about the many ways you can volunteer in Hattingen. His entire speech was done sitting down, so we couldn’t see him unless we decided to stand. The next woman spoke about services for senior citizens and then the next woman was from the pact for families (member of the child protection agency). She talked about families and children having problems, and that they’ll help out. Problems? Hello, could you be any more negative? Why would you go on about the many problems that go on in families and with children? Each city department should demonstrate a positive for the community. There were several families that attended, and if I had to listen to all the negativity that spewed out of this woman’s mouth, I would have unregistered and gone back to where I came from. And her presentation was the longest. It felt like she was basically saying, “We’re keeping a close eye on you, so if you don’t know how to raise your children, we will.”

Then the Mayor talked about all the town and budget hardships. Huh? Again, could you be any more negative? These people are new residents. These speeches should be about welcoming them to the Town of Hattingen, providing them with useful information along with presenting the benefits of the town.

I’ve enjoyed living here. Hattingen has beautiful nature trails, a river, and the people are nice. For the most part, they aren’t negative like the Administration. They spend a lot of time walking, running or riding their bikes on the many trails and enjoy good food and drinks. I feel welcomed by the Citizens of Hattingen, but the Administration needs a transformation on welcoming new residents and keeping them. For all their town’s hardships, they’d fair better by putting a positive twist on what the city has to offer and how it can enhance lives. Every city has their problems, but throwing them onto the new residents as an introduction on how life is in Hattingen isn’t the best way of keeping them.


  1. It's funny when the differences strike so strongly... but there is always something to be learned from it. :)

  2. Geez. That sounded like a big downer. Not a 'welcome to our town' at all. That crap should have been for the council meeting :/
    I would have been thrilled to have been asked and terribly disappointed as well.

    PS - LMAO! The word verification is tated! Tated: to have been tater tot-ed :)

  3. Kara, Sometimes I wonder if THEY, those in higher positions, actually learn from it.

    June, Tell me about it.

    I had to ask about the word verification. I never left myself a comment. :D It's a new verb. Have you been tated.

  4. What a bizarre-o experience. I'm such a sheltered homebody, I would have been bummed out and longing for some Chi-town after sitting through that. Hey, let's get together with Mayor Daley when you get back and have a beer and a burger (forget cake and coffee, lol) and some good laughs about Da Bears...

    Seriously though, it's good to see how other cultures do things. Kara is right--there is always something to learn from it.

    *off to take Chicago quiz*

  5. Barb, that sounds great. I'm sure Mayor Daley would love our company over a beer and burger.

    I'm sooo looking forward to Da Bears again, but in the meantime, I'll be watching my White Sox while you cheer on your Cubs.