During the August Board of Directors meeting, a question of the vision for SIETAR USA was raised. There was a follow-up question about the “bridging thing.” We need questions like that so we can continually revisit who we are, who we want to be, how close we think we are to our goals, and how we plan to get there.
That got me thinking about the bridging between the interculturalists and the diversity, equity and inclusion specialists in SIETAR. The association started as purely intercultural. Many of the early members were involved in activities having to do with international relocation and intercultural research as well as education. Intercultural communication was a central facet of most SIETAR members’ work whether it was teaching, research or training. “Domestic interculturalism” (as it was called then) was known but not a central focus of most of the membership. That has changed. The founding idea behind SIETAR was to create a forum where intercultural educators, trainers, and researchers could meet and create an essentially new field. That forum now includes by choice: diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
To some extent, the intent is much the same: a forum where intercultural and DEI professionals can meet to exchange ideas and work together toward their common interests. There is not, nor should there be, a mandate that all interculturalists and DEI practitioners meld the two fields in all of their endeavors. However, there is mutual benefit from learning about and including DEI content and intercultural theory and practice in the work that each of us does.
Bridging is a work in progress. We are still figuring it out. It is heartening to me to see so many SIETAR USA members involved in that effort. Only good things can come from this passion.
Sandra M. Fowler