A Roverway is a meeting place of many cultures

 

The Roverway 2018 encourages meetings  from different cultures, religions, countries, and Contingents. You will get to know people who live outside your own local community, and discover that strangers can become friends. The Roverway is a place where a number of different cultures come together.

Different cultures have different norms, and what you do affects others. This module will discuss cultural differences with an emphasis on Dutch culture and the Dutch people. Welcome to The Netherlands!

Cultural differences

It is important to be aware of how your behaviour may affect other people. Our cultural background influences our actions and interpretations of what is happening around us. Most of the time we are not aware our own way of thinking or acting, since it is the normal to us.

To people from a different cultural background, however, our actions may seem rude or inappropriate. At the Roverway, where many cultures will meet, we should be aware of how we treat others, how we speak to each other, what kind of jokes we tell, and of our body language. One way of minimising the probability of misunderstandings due to different cultural backgrounds is to ask before you act.

Values and norms

Differences in values and norms originate from what we believe to be important. For example, which do we believe to be more important, the family or the individual? Is it more important to be successful or happy? Is religion a private matter, or the concern of society? Is a society mainly agricultural or post-industrial? These are only some of the factors that influence our values.

It is important that we understand and respect other people’s cultures and values. Some aspects of this may become visible during the Roverway and we must be aware of this.

For more information, a good source to consult is Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map of the World.

Here are some examples of cultural aspects that influence behaviour:

Dress code

In some cultures, it is considered appropriate for men and women to wear shorts and sleeveless tops; whereas in others, such clothes are considered too revealing and people are almost completely covered. Please be sensitive to this when changing clothes for activities, and dress modestly so as not to cause offence.

We have to warn you also, because you might not see that many people walking in ‘klompen’ (cloggs or wooden shoes) as the touristic pictures might tell you. This is folklore now… and only some farmers will still use them on a daily base.

Behaviour

Some cultures are very informal, whereas others are very formal, particularly concerning intergenerational relations and relations between the sexes. Some behaviours may be regarded as disrespectful, although they may merely be the result of a lack of sensitivity. If in doubt, adopt more formal behaviour, for example avoiding hugs and kisses, if you are not sure how the other person will react.

The Dutch in general are very informal. We are used to referring to a person by their first name. Only elderly and in formal situations we speak in a different way.

The Dutch also tend to be very direct and, as a result, may sometimes appear a bit rude. They tend to get straight to the point, foregoing introductory pleasantries, when communicating with one another.

Culinary culture

Cultural differences are evident in dining habits. For example, in some cultures it may be the norm to say a blessing before meals. In some cultures, people eat with their hands, whereas in others they use chopsticks or cutlery.

Often, culinary culture is under religious influences, and some religions prohibit the consumption of particular foods or beverages. When sharing a meal with individuals that have been brought up in a different culture, you should take their customs and religious background into consideration.

During the Roverway 2018 you may be offered traditional Dutch foods with which you are unfamiliar, such as Dutch cheese, ‘hagelslag’ (chocolate sprinkles you can eat on your bread), drop (a kind of candy), kroketten or bitterballen (ragout with a crusty skin) and ‘stroopwafels’ (delicious cookies with caramel). ,. We hope you will enjoy!

Gender

In Scouting, there should be equal opportunities for all members — male and female – although views on how best to achieve this may differ among cultures.

In some Contingents, male and female Rovers and Rangers share tents, while in others they are segregated. For Dutch Rovers and Rangers it is normal for males and females to share tents.

The Roverway is organised with a view to gender equality.

Religion

It is important to be aware that what is considered correct or appropriate may very between religions.. For example, in the case of different religions, special consideration is often required concerning food, clothing, and rituals. If someone does something that is considered wrong or inappropriate within your faith, it is most likely that they are unaware of this, and they are doing it without any bad intentions.

The Dutch population is at present overwhelmingly Catholic and other Christian denominations, as well as several non-Christian minority religious groups.

Personal space

Cultural differences exist concerning the amount of interpersonal distance considered appropriate and comfortable during normal conversation. Another factor is the extent to which it is considered normal to touch another person during conversation. For example, whether it is OK to hold hands or pat another person on the head. Buddhists, for example, consider the latter example highly offensive.

Even though The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe, with 17 million inhabitants inhabiting an area of 41 500 km2 (411 inhabitants each km2), there are no general rules on what distance to maintain between people. If you are unsure, ask, as this is the safest way of not insulting anyone. Likewise, if you are uncomfortable with the behaviour of somebody else towards you, let him or her know.

Depending on the relation people greet each other by saying hello and a handshake. When people haven’t seen each other for a while and have a good relationship, they exchange three kisses, starting with the left cheek. So when you made some Dutch friends at the Roverway and you are saying goodbye, three kisses might happen to you. We don’t do this every day. If we meet more regularly (e.g. for work) we just say hello and go to work.

Concept of time

Being on time means different things to different people, and may reflect cultural differences. It can mean everything from arriving five minutes before the scheduled time to two hours later. Differences in views about this can be a source of conflict.

The Dutch are very precise when it comes to time. If we say that an activity starts at 10, it starts at 10. If not everybody is there yet, after a short period of time, we will start anyway. At the Roverway we urge everyone to be on time for all activities, be it work or leisure. It is extremely important that everyone respect the schedule to ensure a positive Roverway experience for all. In that way, we all get the maximum experience out of the Roverway.

Summary

Our cultural background influences our interpretation of what is happening around us. Different cultures have different norms and values. Examples of aspects that may differ from culture to culture and lead to misunderstanding are:

  • Dress code
  • Behaviour
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Personal space
  • Concept of time

At Roverway 2018, you may find other examples of cultural differences that affect people’s behaviour. Just remember to keep an open mind and use the opportunity to learn from other cultures, as well as to teach people from other backgrounds about your own cultural heritage and customs.



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Opposites Attract

This Roverway edition
will focus on the personal
development of the participating Rovers and Rangers as part of their role in society. The Roverway will provide the environment in which Rovers and Rangers can interchange experiences, knowledge and ideas. This exchange of experiences will be encouraged through the three educational objectives, which all centralize around society and intercultural learning.  

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