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March 2020 President’s Perspective

20 Mar 2020 4:00 PM | Anonymous

SIETAR USA seems to be running like clockwork, that is, it’s going well. I thought you might like to know a bit about how that happens. My favorite Russian-aphorism, resource says that when things get done, people tend not to pay attention to how they got done so the Russians say, “tea comes in a cup.” When people ask for tea and someone brings them a cup of tea, it’s there. They don’t think about what went into getting it there. To some extent I think that is true for SIETAR USA—the conference, the newsletter, the webinars are all currently there. And to some extent, that is the way it should be. On the other hand, learning more about what we do as a working Board will give you some insight into what goes on behind the scenes.

Peggy Pusch realized many years ago that the Board needed to meet face-to-face more than one day before the conference. So she instituted an annual retreat meeting. The 2020 SIETAR USA Board of Directors held our annual Retreat early in March and this year we were at the Hilton Omaha to discuss the state of the association and to scout out the hotel and the city (both terrific venues for us). In addition to dealing with business issues such as the conference, the financial picture, membership levels, and vacancies on the Board, the retreat is a time for reflection, visioning, and tackling tough questions together.

Two items on our agenda were:

1. How can we make SIETAR USA relevant to People of Color, the new generation of interculturalists, and old timers? Those questions pushed some of the Board out of their comfort zones; not because we weren’t all supportive of increasingly integrating each of those groups into the association but because the ways to do it will likely change the SIETAR USA of the future.

2. What do we want SIETAR USA to be known for? What do we want it to be? What are we capable of becoming? As we planned for our future, we needed a reality check. We are a working Board, which means that for the work of SIETAR USA to get done, Board members have to do it.  So we asked how the concept of the working board is working for us. The question then became how does our list of things we want SIETAR USA to do, get done with our limited resources? Professionalize and outsource? Increase our dependence on our Administrative Officer? How do we afford any of that?

We also spent an afternoon reviewing plans for the 2020 conference. We want to bring Omaha into the conference by creating an opportunity for our conference participants to get to know some DEI and intercultural issues that are important in Omaha. This will be a conference to remember.

We are monitoring the COVID-19 issues carefully as we go forward with conference plans. We are sensitive to everyone’s concerns, and we want those who attend the SIETAR USA conference in October to feel welcome and comfortable. For that reason, I will keep you updated on our thinking regarding decisions about the conference relative to the virus epidemic. I noticed that a major professional conference has re-scheduled for October, which is encouraging. We are confident that the situation will change and hopefully in a direction such that our October conference can take place. A good conference is a great antidote for a stressful year.

It’s time to begin thinking ahead to the 2022 conference, which will be in the western region of the United States. Our conference location rotates from the Eastern region to the Midwest to the Western region. The Board is exploring possibilities so if you have a favorite city in the West that you’d like us to look into for the 2022 conference, please let Karen Fouts (info@sietarusa.org) know and she will pass it on for our consideration.


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