President SIETAR USA
It was 10 years ago this month when my beloved husband suffered a massive stroke that took away his ability to speak, write, or use a computer. The ensuing 4+ years was a daily lesson in the importance of language for our ability to communicate. Of course, as we interculturalists know well, there are some non-verbal alternatives, but nuance and complications are lost. Those years were also a lesson in humility. Despite all the work that the speech therapists and I did, his brain was too injured to be able to regain any real semblance of communication.
As I think back on that time, I am saddened to realize the extent to which I was in denial. I just couldn’t accept that this had happened, nothing was helping, and many days it made me cross. So, I tried to focus on quality of life issues. We took little trips, went to movies, walked every day and the like. They were palliative, but what was missing was my ability to deal directly with what had happened thus, to help him with it as well.
What does this have to do with what is happening today? For me, the lesson is that I need to deal with the pandemic, not by denying its reality or how devastating or disruptive it is. “Cope and move on” sounds good but not easy to do (now or then). I miss giving hugs to my kids and grandkids, and I need to let them know that I feel that way. I miss spending time in person with family and friends. That needs to be conveyed too. We all hope that vaccinations will make a difference—hold onto that hope. In the meantime, keep communicating through video calls, cell phone, whatever means you have at your disposal to safely stay in touch with people who are important to you. We are communicators—so do it!
This issue of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA is full of celebrations. It is a veritable feast of celebrations. When you read what Emily Kawasaki has written about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Festivus (for the rest of us) we hope that you will learn more than you knew before—it’s our gift to you. After all, the holiday season is about the importance of festivity in many forms. I suggest that you learn about Moritz Thomsen in Craig Storti’s BookMarks review. Be sure to read to the end so that you get to Mark Walker’s Reconsider List for a good chuckle. Patricia Coleman’s article reprises her ideas from her closing keynote speech at the end of the SIETAR USA virtual conference. Her thoughts are an inspiration and cheer.
Interested in cookies? Read Karen Lokkesmoe’s recipe. She brings her Norwegian heritage to her baking and to her new husband who she married in Norway in October. We say hail and farewell to two women as we welcome Dr. Michele Hanna as the new Leadership Development Director on the Board of Directors and say goodbye to her predecessor Katarina Salas-Natchova. The Board is a dynamic group of individuals who have bonded to make SIETAR USA a better place for everyone. We are excited to print Marcella Simon Peralta’s Letter to the Editor. Let’s keep that conversation going! As always, we let you know about the next month’s webinar, which in January will be Gigi de Groot from Sweden revealing what she knows about virtual teams. We also provide our Upcoming Events list where you can check what other SIETARs are doing and what is happening in the world in the next month.
This is my last Perspective article that I write as President of SIETAR USA. It has been an honor and privilege to serve you the past two years and I must admit that it has been a total joy! There were a few rough spots, but with help from the entire Board and our wonderful Admin Officer, Karen Fouts, I got through them and the Society is all the stronger for that. I have the entire Board and Membership to thank for the renewed interest in SIETAR USA. The best advertisement for our Society is you! Our incoming President, Brett Parry, has confirmed that he would like me to continue as the Newsletter Editor during my year as Immediate Past President—you’ll be hearing from me!
Warm wishes for the holidays and the New Year!
Sandra M. Fowler