Welcome to March and another wonderful edition of the SIETAR USA Interculturalist. As always, lots of informative content to keep you up to date on the happenings in your SIETAR USA. Planning for the conference coming up in Omaha later this year is in full swing, driven by an amazing team of dedicated people. Calls for proposals have just gone out and we know that you all have so much to offer in terms of workshops and sessions, so get them in ASAP.
We’ve also just celebrated International Women’s day, and March is of course Women's History Month. This is an additional chance to honor the leadership and inspirational roles women have played in so many aspects of human accomplishments. May we continue to progress towards even more visibility and recognition.
Of course, many are excited about the continued rollout of the vaccine program to help humanity combat this terrible virus. We are all yearning to be physically closer to our family and friends, and while the impact on our global village has been devastating, it is worth pausing to celebrate the many examples of true humanity that inspire us all to be mindful of the many gifts we share. Let’s not forget also the amazing scientific accomplishment that has resulted in allowing us to so quickly see a return to normality, even if that normality might look slightly different.
I believe as interculturalists we have a huge opportunity—if not responsibility—to model the very skills that may be helpful in navigating that new future. The deep curiosity towards the variations of the human condition bring learning, understanding, and yes at times discomfort. That discomfort may come through witnessing a change in the focus of the organizations we engage with.
As a societal organization, SIETAR itself has an obligation to reflect its membership, as well as being a portal through which we can have dialogue. My personal view is that much of the great work that has been done in SIETAR throughout its history has had the intention of embracing all ideas and viewpoints through a non-judgmental lens, again, taking an approach of curiosity towards understanding. Certain situations and topics in the world need to be addressed, and there needs to be no line in the sand regarding those discussions. The higher visibility of social justice, as well as equity and inclusion in organizations such as ours is integral to the work we do. The groups that these issues impact the most are by their very existence rich and empowering cultures in and of themselves. They deserve the same affirmation and recognition than any other cultural identity.
So, when these cultures are threatened in any way, it is our responsibility to take a stand against that threat. To do any less is an abject failure of care.
Ultimately I understand that such an evolution towards identifying those boundaries, for a society that espouses validation and recognition of all sides of a subject no matter what, can leave some feeling left behind, or that it does not align any more with one’s values. If that is the case, then let’s have that discussion. I for one am willing to have it personally and know that everyone that serves you in this organization are as well. To me, this is as exciting an opportunity as any that this organization has had before in doing more to lift up the voices of those that have long been silenced by structural frameworks of inequality that exist in the world.
As always, please reach out to me or any of our wonderful board members with your thoughts and feedback. I am looking forward to many discussions like it.
Good-bye for now.
President, SIETAR USA