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Annual Conference Co-Chairs'

Dear SIETAR USA members, friends, and colleagues,

Greetings from the co-chairs of the 17th annual SIETAR USA conference. Are you planning to attend the conference in October? Did you send in a proposal and are you waiting to hear if it has been accepted? Have you been waiting to register for the conference? Registration is now live.


The many pieces that create a conference are coming together steadily. You should be hearing from the Program Committee on August 1st or very soon thereafter about your proposal. We are crafting a very full and informative, exciting, 4-day conference. It will be an opportunity for you to sharpen your skills, explore new ideas, and confer with colleagues. The invited speakers are seasoned members of the intercultural field. The tracks will allow an in-depth learning experience in their specific areas. And all this will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Mission Valley where San Diego began. There you can take a swim in the Crowne Plaza pool, work out in their fitness room, grab a bite from the sushi bar, enjoy the waterfalls and tropical foliage of the hotel grounds, and take advantage of free Wi-Fi in the rooms and conference center.

Some Select Conference Facts:
  • We received 125 proposals and anticipate being able to accommodate the majority of these.
  • Register before the Early Bird deadline (September 15) and be entered in a sweepstakes to win 2 free tickets for a 2-hour hop on/hop off tour of San Diego.
  • The Mexican Consul to San Diego will speak to us after the Dine Around on Thursday evening.
  •  There will be an Assessment Carousel where you can interact with the authors of the best intercultural assessment instruments.
  • Enjoy the opening event designed by the fantastic Thiagi!
We look forward to welcoming you to San Diego!

Janet Bennett               Sandy Fowler
   Janet Bennett                        Sandy Fowler

Would you like some information about San Diego? The San Diego Tourism Authority has customized a landing page just for the SIETAR USA 2017 conference. Click on the following link to see more about San Diego as well as some pictures of past SIETAR USA conferences:



San Diego -- Like No Other

San Diego skyline
Photo: Jon Sullivan

This year SIETAR USA comes to the southwest corner of the United States. San Diego is bounded on the east by mountains and desert, on the south by Mexico, on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north by little towns that dot the coast a hundred miles to Los Angeles and beyond. Visitors sing its praises and residents thank their lucky stars to be in one of America’s finest cities.

San Diego is a fine city for a SIETAR USA conference with its cultural diversity, ideal weather, diverse landscapes, lush vegetation, friendly upbeat attitude, artistic abundance, easy access, and fabulous food. When you decide to come to the conference your purpose is to attend the program itself, meet with colleagues and friends, and learn what is new in the intercultural field. However, the hotel has guaranteed the conference rate for 3 nights prior to and after the conference so you might consider giving yourself some time to sample what San Diego has to offer.

Things you will notice right away: the Pacific Ocean; the landscape (mesas, valleys, palm trees, rocks); the Mediterranean climate (sun, sun, sun); cars and freeways; the Spanish influenceon restaurant and street names and architecture (tile roofs, white and pastel stucco houses and walls). Cultural values include the environment, families, healthy living.

La JollaThe Ocean and Climate:  The Pacific Ocean—on the western edge of San Diego—affects the climate and the climate affects the architecture. The average annual rainfall total is 10 inches (254 mm). In fact, rain is a big event in San Diego. Rain storms can occur any time of year but are more often in the winter months of January, February and March. The 2017 spring has brought a surprising amount of rain. We already have our annual average. Autumn can be quite warm and dry. It’s the Santa Ana season when winds can come from the Anza-Borrego desert comprising the eastern edge of San Diego County. The ocean moderates the temperature, so the temperature variation is less than most places. That said, you might appreciate a jacket for evenings while at the conference.

Spanish influenceThe Spanish Influence: The earliest European inhabitants who were Spanish (Catholic missionaries, soldiers, ranchers) and the proximity to Mexico influenced the architecture. You see a lot of walls because a piece of land is so expensive that houses tend to be built close together -- walls help provide privacy as well as protection. Courtyards, patios, terraces, gates abound. You will find a lot of Spanish influence in the names of places and roads. Names of streets often begin with Via, Camino or Caminito or Avenida. A main North County road is El Camino Real. There are many restaurants offering Mexican or Spanish-influenced food. Actually, San Diego is a diverse melange of Asian, South American and African American influences.

To be continued—watch for part 2 in the next newsletter.

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Conference Venue


Hello SIETARIANS!! We at SIETAR USA are getting all set to welcome you in Sunny San Diego for our annual conference. Let’s get to know our hotel and Mission Valley, where our hotel is located.

hotel exterior
The Crowne Plaza located in Mission Valley

Mission Valley/Old Town has become one of the most popular regions in San Diego. In fact, the region offers San Diego's second largest convention space, a 27-hole championship golf course (Riverwalk Golf Club), two premier shopping malls (Fashion Valley Mall and Mission Valley Mall), family-friendly restaurants, movie theaters and Qualcomm Stadium, former home to the San Diego Chargers football team. After undergoing a series of renovations and updates, the hotel is now a jewel of Mission Valley.

Mission Valley is conveniently located just 10 minutes from San Diego's major attractions (San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Old Town, SeaWorld), as well as San Diego's International airport. In addition to having several stops along the San Diego Trolley line, Mission Valley sits at the crossroads of the county's main highways and features many affordable options for groups and leisure travelers.

Some of the hotel amenities are a sushi bar, an excellent restaurant, a sundries shop with a specialty coffee bar and barista, a swimming pool, waterfalls and tropical foliage, an exercise room, a laundry room full of washers and dryers, a Hertz rental car office in the lobby, and a business office for hotel patrons. One of the best features of this hotel is the Hanalei Conference Center on the grounds, steps from your room! SIETAR USA will have the entire conference center for just us to mix, mingle, learn, reflect, make new friends, and greet the old friends.

The special SIETAR USA room rate is $130/night -- $146.94 with tax and fees. Parking is $6 per day for overnight guests. See for more information and the reservation link.

Click here for Annual Conference fees and registration link.

middle of it all

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Learn about Mission Valley and Old Town. Note that Old Town is a medium walk from the hotel.

Master Workshops

And now the Golden Opportunity of Master Workshops being offered this year.

I have actually never heard this question: “Why would I want to come a whole day early to attend a Master Workshop?”  Of course, sometimes it isn’t possible to work the extra day into one’s schedule, but the value of spending 4 to 8 hours with leaders in the intercultural and D&I fields is easy to recognize. Each year, over 100 intercultural professionals make that extra effort and participate in Master Workshops of their choice.

workshop Participants have the opportunity to:

  • Learn from seasoned professionals who bring the intercultural perspective and approach to a variety of workplace and life challenges.
  • Add to lifelong learning and professional development.
  • Broaden their professional network.
  • Meet well-known interculturalists and experts in their field.
A bit of history: SIETAR has had pre-conference workshops for many decades. Prior to the formation of SIETAR USA many years there were post-conference workshops as well. At SIETAR USA’s inaugural conference in 2000 at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, there were 6 half-day workshops and 4 full-day workshops. Workshop leaders (among others) who might be familiar to you were: George Renwick, Janet Bennett, Sandra Fowler, and Alvino Fantini. Marcella Simon Peralta and Jeremy Solomons conducted a workshop titled: Intercultural Career Development: Does Your Mother Know What an Interculturalist Does? Do you? Back in the year 2000, a cutting edge workshop on culture and virtual teams by Erran Carmel was an innovation.

meeting roomAlong the way, the name was changed to Master Workshops and every effort has been made to ensure that the leaders were well known in the field, at the forefront of best practices and current issues, are recognized as experts in the subject matter, and excellent workshop leaders.

In 2016, the Master Workshops were organized into a themed framework that allowed people who want to take two half-day workshops, to choose two conceptually linked workshops, or they can select two that are totally different. It proved a successful organizing plan so it has been repeated this year. The 2017 roster of Master Workshops also includes one full-day workshop by Justin Sitron, which is the first time in years that a full-day workshop is included, with Part 1 and Part 2 available together or separately. The 2017 Master Workshop Tracks are:


TRACK: People, Places, Perspectives, and Developing Intercultural Competence

AM: Identity in the Digital Age: Staying in Place as the Place Changes
Jack Condon and Tatyana Fertelmeyster

PM: Creative Coaching: An Advanced Workshop
George Renwick

TRACK: Performance Narrative, Social Justice and Skills Based Tools

AM: Intercultural Connections through Storytelling
Leila Buck and Kelli McLoud-Schingen

PM: The Intersections of Diversity & Inclusion, Social Justice, and Intercultural Relations
Amer Ahmed

TRACK: Training Design and Facilitation of Games and Experiential Exercises

AM: Building Bridges in Times of Change With Interactive Sessions That Support Effective Intercultural Interaction
Sivasailam Thiagarajan

PM: Creative Experiential Activities for a Changing World, Changing People, Changing Times
Jon DeVries and Jeffrey Cookson


TRACK: Best Practices for Developing and Sustaining an Intercultural Practice in a Changing World

AM: Business Skills for Independent Interculturalists and Small Business Owners
Monica Marcel and Randall Stieghorst

PM: Social Media: The Best Brand Out There is YOU
Brett Parry and Tamara Thorpe

TRACK: New Directions – Sexological Worldview

AM: Sexological Worldview & Intercultural Competence (Module One)
Justin Sitron

PM: Applying Sexological Worldview to Intercutural Praxis (Module Two)
Justin Sitron

The choices this year have particular relevance to interculturalists working throughout the world in these days of change. Whether you are training, coaching, or consulting there are workshops for you. You can learn more about bringing the intercultural perspective to diversity and inclusion work. Building your business through skill training and branding are two important workshop topics with great benefit to everyone. Sexological Worldview might seem like an unusual topic for a Master Workshop but the rave reviews for Justin Sitron from the 2016 conference lead us to schedule him without hesitation for a full-day workshop. Check out the descriptions of all the Master Workshops to find the right one for you!
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Tijuana: Can I Go By Myself?

In San Diego we are fortunate to have Mexico right next door. If you are the explorer type (and most interculturalists are) yes, you can go by yourself, or better, with a few friends. You might want to do that on Sunday although coming back on Sunday tends to be crowded with a long line waiting to cross the U.S./Mexico Border. So if you really want to go to Tijuana, consider coming early enough to go on Tuesday before the conference starts. That would be the best day to plan your Mexican outing.

Tijuana is roughly 20 miles south of the conference hotel. To get across the border, walking is more advisable than driving across the border, which takes a lot more time and you have to contend with the traffic. If driving is your thing, plan to go on down the coast a bit to Rosarita Beach, a very nice drive and destination. Should you decide to walk, you can Uber to the border or take the trolley: the nearest trolley stop in Old Town is within walking distance of the hotel (or take the hotel shuttle). Then you can take the trolley (green line to the blue line) to the San Ysidro crossing and walk across. Step by step instructions with pictures are available on the internet for how to manage the crossing.

What might you see in Tijuana? Revolution Avenue provides a chance to purchase handcrafted items, clothing, furniture and local foods, as well as visits to nightclubs and bars. The winemakers at L.A. Cetto Winery (
 offer guided tours and tastings of local vintages. You can get a taste of Tijuana's arts community at the Tijuana Cultural Center with exhibits that include sculpture, paintings and photography. Along with the Hope Tower several important historical structures are open to the public, including Our Lady of Guadelupe Cathedral (, inaugurated in 1902. Saint Cecelia Square, also known as Arguello Square, is home to the city's oldest streets. You can enjoy traditional Mariachi bands throughout the square, as well as shopping and dining.

Is it safe? Yes, it is relatively safe. It is a border city of over 1 million people and like many border cities, there are plenty of people ready to sell you something. On the other hand, if Spanish is not one of your languages, many citizens speak English. Be sure to bring your passport!

At this time we haven’t planned a guided trip across the border to Tijuana, Mexico.The main reason is the time it would take to get there, see the sights and return. If you are coming to the conference to attend sessions, network, hear stimulating talks, mix and mingle, going to Tijuana would take a major chunk out of your conference time. But if you choose to go south of the border, it is waiting for you down Mexico way.

Tijuana photos
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SIETAR USA, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 578, Westmont, IL 60559-0578
630-986-1469, fax 708-469-1642

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