The BIG NEWS for the month of May is that the SIETAR USA national conference is going virtual. Our in-person conference scheduled for October in Omaha will indeed take place, but in 2021. The 2020 October event Moving Ahead: Learning from the Global Crisis, will be virtual. All the details known at this time (and some of the decisions we are working on) can be found in the Conference Connections column. Be sure to check it out and consider joining us for our first-ever virtual conference.
This issue has some good reading—provocative ideas (see Craig Storti), profound personal reflections (Joel Brown), a recipe (Esther Louie), some Zoom talk, webinar announcements, our monthly calendar of events, a position description for the only vacancy on the Board: Professional Development Director.
I had in mind when I started The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA that it might start a dialog. We do occasionally get letters to the editor, but this hasn’t been as interactive as expected. Please know that your comments are welcome and some will be published and become part of the archives. When people in the future ask what was happening in SIETAR USA before, during, and after the pandemic, your comments will help fill out the picture. The authors of the articles appreciate hearing from you also.
It occurred to me that in many ways, intercultural and inclusion practitioners can serve as a bridge preparing for the aftermath of the corona virus epidemic. Due to our backgrounds and experience, we can help people develop a resilience roadmap to help them through the transition period. We all need the resilience and adaptation skills to meet the challenges we are facing. For example, we know about connectedness and how important it is to people who are in transition. Not all of us are mourning the loss of a loved one but collectively and individually we are mourning bygone lives. What have we lost? Predictability, control, justice, the belief that we can protect ourselves and loved ones from an outside threat. We have lost some of the anchors of our lives: places that bring us comfort, work and projects that add excitement (and remuneration), routines that helped us through our days and weeks. The transition to the next chapter requires the functional adaptability and recovery skills we know something about.
We also know the importance of emotional support in tough times. Sometimes it is enough just to know that there is someone there who will listen, who can clear up confusion, can help us understand when miscommunication causes pain. The ethical issue is however, to recognize when people need help that we are not trained to give. That’s when we should be prepared to provide resources that folks can turn to instead of floundering.
The crisis is here, it is global, it is not going away soon. We can embrace it or retreat from it. Winston Churchill did not say it, but he should have: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” That, of course, is a modification of the United Negro College Fund’s slogan: “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” The key is to use this crisis to think about the world we need and want and work toward that. Plan to join us at our first-ever virtual conference to share your experiences and what you have learned, as well as learning from others as we move forward together.
Sandra M. Fowler
SIETAR USA President