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2020 Virtual Conference: Update

15 Jun 2020 7:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Being a Human Interculturalist During Turbulent Times
Deborah Orlowski, Conference Chair

Ability to deal with ambiguity, excellent communication skills, sense of humor, self-awareness, the ability to be comfortable in multiple cultures, empathetic, able to stand in others’ shoes. I’m sure by now you’ve recognized some of the many attributes and abilities one will find when looking for a definition of “interculturalist.” We’ve all seen them, used them, perhaps even taught them. They are our strengths as interculturalists, and they are particularly relevant these days. This is our time to shine, to show what we’ve got, to demonstrate to the world why these skills are crucial. So why are so many of us feeling like we’re hanging on by a thread? We’re exhausted at the end of a day of chasing gigs that have disappeared, converting classes to new formats, and watching endless hours of mass protests around the world. We know the work we do is critical, even “essential” in many cases. We are doing a good job of leading but some days it’s a struggle and there is just so much, well, ambiguity!

The truth is that just because we have the skills to do the work doesn’t mean we’re invincible and are not feeling the effects of the world-wide pandemic and protests. People are depending upon us to lead, to be more comfortable in this type of environment and to show them how to do it. And we do. Yet we hurt too. We’ve lost people, we’re distressed, we’re trying to figure out how to “zoom” and carry on using new methodologies, all while leading our clients, students, colleagues and communities. So, what can we do?

First, appreciate we are all human. As interculturalists we have skills, but all of us are also living in a new world that seems almost alien. Simple things like washing hands, opening a door or visiting a neighbor have the potential for being gravely dangerous. Day after day we witness our communities confronting the results of centuries of racism while debates rage about policing policies. Our brains and emotions are exhausted. It’s no wonder we struggle.

Second, realize we are not alone. There are hundreds of colleagues “out there” who are not only experiencing the same thing, but are also finding new ways to address the issues facing us. Especially in the intercultural and DEI communities, people are not only happy, but they’re eager to connect, to share, to assist one another. This is no time to feel you must be independent. Just as you may need assistance from others, they may need it from you. Share your skills and compassion. Be open to listening to others’ stories. I used to organize a panel of leaders for a leadership class. The panel was the most powerful when the experts shared not only what they knew, but also how they failed. That sense of “we don’t have to be perfect” is important when one is facing crucial times.

Third, put the 2020 SIETAR Virtual Conference on your schedule (details below). We are planning a conference that will help you learn new skills, network and feel a renewed sense of connectedness and caring from a world-wide intercultural network. If you never been to a SIETAR conference, you are in for a treat because a more supportive, more knowledgeable group of people will not be found anywhere else. If you’re a SIETAR regular, come back for all the reasons you come to SIETAR in the first place…the skills, the networking and the camaraderie. It will all be there, and more. Submit a proposal. Volunteer to help with the conference. Sign up for it and keep checking the website for updates. We are all here for all of us…the human interculturalists of SIETAR-USA and the world!

JOIN US online for the 2020 SIETAR Virtual Conference.
October 9-11, 2020.

Check the website frequently for updates about the conference.


Brett Parry, President Elect

We are very grateful for the submissions we have received to present at the upcoming SIETAR USA Virtual Conference. As always it is so wonderful to have the opportunity to gather so much important learning related to our field.
 Some of you have been proactive in enquiring about the platform we will be using for the event. While the shift to this format was unexpected, it is certainly a challenge we embrace and look forward to as an opportunity for learning. With that in mind, we feel it is important to assess a number of platforms so as to ensure the very best experience for both presenters and attendees. No matter which platform we move forward with, rest assured you will be provided with ample opportunity to learn how to adapt your presentation to suit. Sessions will be provided for this, and technical support will always be at hand. The basics of course will involve utilizing existing web cam, audio and screen sharing capabilities you may already be using. The decision will be made soon, and once that takes place we will advise accordingly. Following a period of time that we will need to build it around the SIETAR USA branding, we will be reaching out to let you know about further preparations.


Karen Lokkesmoe, Conference Oversight Director

Yes!  There will be scholarship opportunities for the 2020 SIETAR USA Virtual Conference for students and young professionals that will cover the cost of registration.  Please watch for details to be posted soon on the Conference website.  https://www.sietarusa.org/Conference-Information


What better way to show your support for SIETAR USA and the important and much needed work of intercultural and diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice professionals at this critical time in the world.  In addition to providing much needed support, you can get your message out to all our conference attendees around the world and participants in all our programs throughout the year through visual recognition on our website.  Our Sponsorship & Advertising team is busy creating new options for sharing your information in our virtual format to ensure the broadest reach possible.  Please watch for details on our conference website  https://www.sietarusa.org/Conference-Information or contact the committee directly at s.e.a@sietarusa.org.

Update on a Preliminary Schedule for the 2020 SIETAR USA Virtual Conference

When we began this year’s conference planning, we were expecting to be in-person in Omaha. Who knew that soon there would be a global pandemic, a global economic crash, and a global social justice and anti-racism movement—all happening at the same time? These are exciting, tumultuous times, and as intercultural and DEI practitioners, we all are called upon to ride with, guide others, and sometimes make waves to enable us to be “Moving Forward: Learning from the Global Crisis.” Change in this environment is inevitable, and our conference is no exception: We thank you in advance for your tolerance of the many adjustments we are making for our evolving virtual event. 

This being our first virtual conference and having a long “runway” to the dates (9-11 October but could change) for the conference, we are thinking outside the box to make the most of this new experience. Since we are still considering various platforms—which will influence what we can do—a preliminary schedule at this time is premature. We see this delay as an opportunity for us to bring you something innovative and engaging, while still maintaining what you love about SIETAR USA.

We hope you will be able to join us for this first ever virtual SIETAR USA event and look forward to networking, learning, and sharing with you.

A Sneak Peak at What to Expect…

Sandra M. Fowler, President

Proposal reviewers get a chance to see what they might expect from the proposals they are assigned to review (it is not too late to volunteer to be a reviewer; contact the Program Chair at conferenceproposals@sietarusa.org) I thought you might like a glance at the titles of some of the proposals we have received. The proposals came in from around the world as well as from the United States. It’s an interesting mix. The titles listed below indicate the breadth of the proposed concurrent sessions; they do not imply that these have been reviewed and accepted. The review process won’t start until all proposals are in (June 15th). Nor are they the only ones related to the categories I chose. And they by far do not represent all the proposals. This is just a taste!

Neuroscience is a popular and important topic. Expect sessions such as “A Trauma-Informed and Neurophysiological Approach to Coping with the Pandemic and Decreasing Polarization” and “Call to Action: Moving the Brain from “Us vs. Them” to “We”.”

Are you interested in learning more about leadership? “Global Leadership Lessons from COVID-19” and “Can We Clone Jacinda Ardern? Today’s Desperate Need to Define Good Global Leaders” might be for you.

Learn more about a personal and family dilemma: “Should I stay or Should I go? The response of the Expats community to the Pandemic.” Or lessons learned from an interracial couple: “Lessons for Times that are a Changin: Experiences from Interracial Couples.”

As always, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a central topic from a variety of perspectives: “Exploring Somatic Awareness of Internalized Supremacy and Dominance;” “Navigating Implications of COVID-19: Developing Equity-Based Practices in Pursuit of Global Learning and Engagement;” and for the simulation gamers in SIETAR USA: “Space Pace to Inclusion Game. Virtual play session for professionals involved in diversity and inclusion.”

Several proposals focus on educational issues such as: “Post Crisis Transformation of Academic Disciplines: ICC for STEM and the New Disciplinary Realignment.” And “Creating a Culture of Care & Social Justice in Times of COVID-19: Education, Policy, Practice.” And “Successful Collaboration in Academic Virtual Intercultural Teams.”

You will find when the whole program becomes available, that this will be an opportunity to get inspired and learn something new, as you spend virtual time with colleagues who understand who you are, what you do, and ask really great questions!

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