Everything these days seems to be Election News! Just so you know, the SIETAR USA election process has proceeded smoothly and—following the allotted petition time period—we will be able to either ratify or elect (if there is more than one candidate for the positions) the people who will serve in the two open Board positions for the next 3 years: Communications Director and Leadership Development Director.
The transition process is moving along smoothly too. I created a Transition Checklist. Brett and I have had one and will have several more Zoom meetings to talk through the list. The presidential transition requires a lot of housekeeping like changing names on the bank accounts, changing the President’s email to the new President, etc. To the extent we can, I’d like to see all that done or well underway prior to January 1, 2021.
As you glance through the items in this issue of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA, you will see an article I wrote on the history of SIETAR USA and IAIR (International Association of Intercultural Research), two intercultural organizations that have a close connection—or should have. Writing that article brought up for me, the significance of research to our field. We are a research-based field and it’s important to remember that whether we are educators, practitioners, intercultural, diversity or some combination, the knowledge in our tool bags comes from years of research. Whether it is Kate Berardo challenging the validity of the W-curve response to relocation, or Michele Gelfand expanding on the impact of tight and loose cultures, the basis for their theories and conclusions came from research. Just the other day, I read a research article brought to my attention by Dan Landis, Founding President of IAIR, on the generalization of the intergroup contact hypothesis. Based on a taxonomy of responses, they concluded that intergroup contact is up to the challenge of moving “beyond prejudice” but the field must embrace a broader conceptualization of what constitutes success in contact as well as expanding the range of outcomes. In any case, SIETAR USA has some excellent researchers among our membership and they continue to present at our conferences.
Also, of note in this issue of the newsletter is the report from the annual business meeting that we held during the conference. We had over 50 people attend, which was much appreciated. The financial picture that is included in the article shows that we remain fiscally healthy. That has resulted from expanded membership, generosity of sponsors and members, and continued participation in special events like our webinars (only non-members have to pay a fee but we get several of those with each webinar) and training days with people like Thiagi.
Please note that we have made it much easier for our readers to respond to the newsletter provocative articles, book reviews, helpful tips, menus, and the like. You can now send your comments, observations, critiques directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome opinion articles as well. We will harvest the comments and publish them with the intention of getting some conversations going that will be archived in SIETAR USA’s history. For example, I thought Chris Cartwright’s article last month on Intercultural and DEI would have inspired a few comments. Emails are great but they disappear. Archives are preserved for future historians who want to know what we were all about especially during this unusual year and in the subsequent years of this century.
Speaking of harvesting, as we plunge forward into the holiday season, it is a good time to recognize and feel grateful for all the things in our lives that are good. I am so grateful to SIETAR USA for getting me through this pandemic year of social distancing. Virtual isn’t the same as in-person, but the connections have been invaluable. SIETAR USA has enabled me to stay in touch with colleagues and friends, work with them to create a successful conference, and develop plans and projects that keep SIETAR USA thriving. None of that would have happened without the help of the best possible Board of Directors, Administrative Officer, and Advisory Council. My gratitude extends to the conference chair and the conference committee, to the members I heard from over the year, and to the teams I’ve work with: the Editorial Team and the Webinar Team. We’ve accomplished a lot together. And together is the key word!
Sandra M. Fowler
President SIETAR USA