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  • 25 Nov 2019 4:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. (Native American Saying)

    When you ask U.S. Americans and Canadians what their favorite holiday is, many say “Thanksgiving!” Understandably it can be a day for some people of good food and warm company, for some it brings nice weather, colorful autumn leaves and exciting football. It is often a day when people join their families by birth or choice to celebrate the holiday. For some, it is a day of giving to the less fortunate, working in a place that serves food to those who otherwise don’t have a Thanksgiving dinner or donating time at a Senior Center or a place where people so appreciate a visitor.

    Thanksgiving also ushers in the holiday season that can take over our lives. For those who have a busy work schedule it can be a time of trying to wedge holiday preparations into whatever free time their work allows. For others, it is a time to take stock of what is important. Someone said that not expressing your gratitude is like wrapping a present but not giving it. So throughout the holidays is a very good time to consider telling people how thankful you are that they are in your life.

    Living in Southern California as I do, Thanksgiving is usually a warm, sunny day that I like to spend working in my garden. I am reminded of the Marcel Proust saying: “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” My work with SIETAR USA brings me into contact with so many charming gardeners—I want to give my thanks to all of you who make me happy whether in person at the conference, serving on the Board or committees, or virtually by email. We are all in this life together and I am so grateful that SIETAR USA gives us a professional home where as colleagues we can share our insights and caring for each other.

    Sandra M. Fowler

  • 25 Nov 2019 4:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

  • 25 Nov 2019 4:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A Pattern of Islands by Arthur Grimble, Eland 2011, 272 pages. Reviewed by Craig Storti

    “I was nominated to a cadetship in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Protectorate at the end of 1913,” this book begins. “The cult of the great god Jingo was as yet far from dead. Most English households of the day took it for granted that nobody could always be right, or ever quite right, except an Englishman. The Almighty was beyond doubt Anglo-Saxon, and the popular conception of empire resultantly simple. Dominion over palm and pine (or whatever else happened to be noticeably far-flung) was the heaven-conferred privilege of the Bulldog Breed. Kipling had said so.”

    A Pattern of Islands, it has to be said—and I knew it would come to this sooner or later as your book review editor—is the one book everyone should read before they pass on. After all, you never know what’s going to be in that next library/bookshop on the other side. So don’t press your luck.

    Nor is this advice just for interculturalists, though it is certainly for them; it really is the kind of book it's impossible to imagine anyone not liking, actually not loving. It is quite literally delightful, assuming that word means full of delights. Where else will you learn the right way to swim through a school of tiger sharks? The proper way to behave when you are the bait for a man-eating octopus? Why you must bring a coconut if you’re going to the Place of Dread? And why the word nikiranibobo is so hilarious in Gilbertese?

    In 1914 Grimble and his wife Olivia were posted by the British Colonial Service to the protectorate known as the Gilbert (now part of Kiribati) and Ellice (now Tuvalu) Islands, roughly half way between Australia and Hawaii. Grimble was 26 at the time. A Pattern is cross-cultural from its first moments to its last two pages, which contain one of the best examples of the reverse-culture-shock conversations you’re going to find anywhere. But first this:

    “We did learn to accept cockroaches as domestic pets (or almost), for…whenever foul weather threatened, whole rustling clouds of them would come flying into the house for refuge. Once lodged, they would stay for weeks so we decided at last to count them as an essential ingredient of Pacific romance—it was with either that or die of daily horror— and our only incurable pedantry about them in the long run was to keep them, if or when possible, out of the soup.”

    The book is squarely in the education-of-a-naïf genre, which means it is stuffed with cross-cultural incidents, otherwise known as embarrassing, humiliating faux pas wherein Grimble is revealed to be an absurd, charming bumbler utterly incapable of taking himself seriously. Here is just one example:

    “So I got up amid a great hush and said (the words are burned on my memory), ‘People of Tarawa, this is a beautiful island. This is the first time I have seen Tarawa. I think Tarawa is a beautiful island. This is the first time I have seen it. I think it is very beautiful….’ There are no means of estimating how long I should have continued had not Mr. Workman’s voice cut in: ‘Perhaps Mr. Grimble, we might now with profit move onward to the next thought. Time flies you know.’ I had no next thought save a wild desire to have done ‘Iam glad to meet you today [Grimble continued] and shall always be very, very glad to meet you….’ I did not expect the storm of laughter that rewarded my climax. It swept the maneaba like a hurricane, and lasted for minutes…. I got up amid the din and walked over to Mr. Workman…who wiped his eyes and explained that [what] I had said in effect was,  ‘I am glad to meet you today, but I shall always be very, very glad to say goodbye to you.’”

    And here’s a taste of the reverse-culture shock anecdote:

    Uncle: ‘Hullo my boy, glad to see you back. Sit down. Have a cigar. Now tell us what you’ve been up to all these years out there.’

    Self: ‘Oh, I’ve been—‘

    Uncle: ‘You don’t look too well on it, whatever it was. Did you keep up your riding?’

    Self: ‘Well—no—you see there aren’t any horses there. But I—‘

    Uncle: ‘What? No riding? Hm! Now the other day Jackie Jack Jackson said to me (Jackie’s dicta on fox-hunting as an aid to health here omitted). But you must have got a bit of fishing.’

    Self: Oh, yes, I had plenty of that. The tiger-shark—‘

    Uncle: ‘Tiger shark? Now the other day I was talking to a feller back from Ireland…. But I suppose you had a shot at tigers in those jungles.’

    Self: ‘Well, no. You see there aren’t any jungles or tigers. But I did—‘

    Grimble is not only a first-rate story teller, he is also beautiful prose stylist. If you’ve ever read a more sublime summing up of the cross-cultural experience than this, you’re very fortunate indeed:

    “It began to dawn on me that beyond the teeming romance that lies in the differences between men—the diversity of their homes, the multitude of their ways of life, the dividing strangeness of their faces and tongues, the thousand-fold mysteries of their origins—there lies the still profounder romance of their kinship with each other, a kinship that springs from the immutable constancy of man's need to share laughter and friendship, poetry and love in common.”

    My only hesitation in recommending this book is the financial hit you will have to absorb buying copies for all your friends. You may choose not to buy copies, I suppose, but what kind of friend would you be then?

  • 25 Nov 2019 4:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    November has been Native American Heritage Month in the United States since 1990. This month is a time to celebrate the First Peoples’ rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories.  SIETAR USA is proud to recognize and honor Native Americans and their important contributions to our culture and our country. There is a history of designating a day to honor Native people dating back to President Coolidge in 1915. In 1986 President Reagan declared the week of November 23-30 as American Indian Week. In 1990 President George Bush approved a joint proclamation to honor America’s tribal people for the entire month of November. Every President since 1995 has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of November as the time to celebrate the culture, accomplishments, and contributions of people who were the first inhabitants of this land. On November 5, 2019 the U.S. government officially proclaimed November as National American History and Founders Month. SIETAR USA honors U.S. history in all its forms but most strongly asserts its core values in honoring the first peoples of the land we currently know by the name of the United States of America.

  • 25 Nov 2019 4:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SIETAR USA Member Update: A Retrospective

    As we enter the last weeks of the year 2019, it is important to look back at the activities of this year. It gives a picture of all that is happening in SIETAR USA and provides a taste of what to look forward to in 2020.

    WEBINARS: An exciting series—to be continued!

    FEBRUARY: Living Our Values: The SIETAR USA Living Code of Ethical Behavior. Presenter: Kurt Nemes

    MARCH: Dispelling Myths About Muslims and Islam: Intercultural Interventions for Pluralism and Inclusion of American Muslims. Presenter: Lubna 'Luby' Ismael

    MAY: Making Sense of Russia in the 21st Century. Presenter: Tatyana Fertelmeyster

    JUNE: Promoting Age Inclusion in the New Millennium. Presenter: Tamara Thorpe

    JULY: Experiencing Civil Rights: My Story. Presenter: Kelli McLoud-Schingen

    OCTOBER: Unconscious Bias Training & Implications for Interculturalists. Presenter: Dr. Neal Goodman

    NOVEMBER: Personal Leadership. Presenter: Rita Wuebbeler

    DECEMBER: Nuevo Mexico’s Mid-Winter Celebrations: A Look at the Intercultural Symbols and Reexamination of the Tri-Cultural Myth. Presenter: Miguel Gandert


    A newsletter is a primary benefit of membership, providing news of the association, however, it can be more. This year the newsletter was upgraded to a periodical and given a name: The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA. As a periodical it not only continues the tradition of association news such as conference plans, webinar announcements, local groups activities and the like, but it also offers articles of general interest to people in the Intercultural and Diversity Equity and Inclusion fields. A regular feature is the Bookmarks column, a book review by Craig Storti. He has reviewed books of intercultural fiction, travel, and concepts/theories/applications. He has also developed an author interview, providing readers an insight into the person who wrote the books he reviewed. The Interculturalist Periodical also contains Marketing Tips by Valerie Bath and Training Tips from Thiagi. It has a DEI column by Elmer Dixon. There is an opinion article by an invited interculturalist, which began in January 2019 with an article by Harry Triandis about intercultural researchers and practitioners. Other article writers have been Robert Hayles, Chris Cartwright, Soumaya Khalifa, Stella Ting-Toomey, Carlos Cortes, Mike Tucker, Kathryn Sorrels, Andrej Juriga, George Renwick, Bruce LaBrack, and Alvino Fantini.


    2019 was a year that saw some new members join the Board of Directors. The year began with a new Secretary, Justin Sitron and a new Treasurer, Hamilton Cruz. Also new at the beginning of the year was Sherri Tapp, Membership Outreach and Diversity Director. Returning and renewing their commitment to the Board are Julia Gaspar Bates as the Local Groups Director, and Brett Parry, Communication Director. Katerina Salas Natchova joined us mid-year as the Board Leadership Director, and Karen Lokkesmoe is the new Conference Oversight Director. The year began with a new President as well. Sandra Fowler, longtime member of SIETAR starting in 1979, and member of SIETAR USA since its inception in 2000, took over the reins from Holly Emert, currently the Immediate Past President. The monthly Zoom meetings of the Board and the two annual in-person meetings are evidence of a lively group dedicated to the membership of SIETAR USA and to the health of the association.

    SIETAR USA ACADEMY: Certification Program in Intercultural Organizational Leadership

    The SIETAR USA ACADEMY: Certification Program in Intercultural Organizational Leadership designed by Tatyana Fertelmeyster, was announced at the National Conference in Atlanta. It is a year-long program with an in-service element. The SIETAR USA Leadership Program is proposed as a valuable professional and personal development opportunity for members who are:

    • Interested in deepening their learning about ins and out of intercultural leadership;
    • Are willing to invest their time, effort, and resources in this process;
    • Ready to engage in a 10-month long cohort-based program that will combine:
      • Education and mentoring provided by experienced interculturalists/veterans of SIETAR USA
      • Experiential project-based learning
      • Engagement in the SIETAR USA volunteer activities
      • Ongoing reflection to solidify and deepen their learning

    Upon completion of the program and submitting their final summary of experience/reflection papers, participants will receive a SIETAR USA Certificate of Intercultural Leadership Practitioners (additional details TBD).


    The 2019 conference held in Atlanta received positive feedback for its presenters and concurrent sessions, invited speakers, and special events. Participants were especially touched by the Fireside Chat with Janet Bennett. She clearly knew what she wanted to say and shared many memories from her past. The Gala Banquet was fun with a number of the attendees wearing masks to celebrate the recent Halloween holiday. Anna Xia was the lucky person to have her business card drawn from the trick-or-treat bucket to win a free registration to the 2020 conference in Omaha. At the closing event, Russanne Bucci was the lucky winner of a free Master Workshop with her bumper sticker: Change Behavior—Change Minds. The Thiagi-inspired activity gave attendees the opportunity to hone their “elevator” response to the question “How was the Conference?” And then whittle it down to a bumper sticker. The activity is described in the Training Tip in this issue.


    DATES: 8-11 OCTOBER 2020

    From artificial intelligence to cybersecurity to virtual reality, people are adapting to rapidly changing technologies which present challenges to the individual, communities, and society. Please join us in the heartland of America for the SIETAR USA 2020 National Conference to explore the impact of new technologies on the work of interculturalists throughout the world.


    • Mind: Leveraging Neuroscience. Scientists studying the brain have applied their findings to many areas of human interaction. Neuroscience research is increasing our understanding of the mind in such areas as prejudice and bias. What can we learn from them that applies to our work?
    • Culture: Foundational Innovation. The foundation for the work of interculturalists is culture. What is the most recent thinking about culture? What innovative ways have been developed to facilitate people learning about culture? How does culture express itself in the work we do? In the leadership of world organizations?
    • Society: Dynamic Intersections. The impact of social media and the internet on institutions such as education, religion, and politics affects us all. Interculturalists can use modern technology to play an important role in bridging society’s schisms such as: (among others) rural/urban, race, gender, sexual orientation, immigrant/citizen, religion.

  • 25 Nov 2019 3:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Atlanta Georgia provided a great backdrop for the
    2019 SIETAR USA Conference. Here are a few highlights.

    Themes from our Invited speakers
    Hamlin Grange opened the conference by painting a picture for us that envisions a world where all peoples are accepted and respected, where prodigal interculturalism thrives; a world that utilizes the skills of bridging, perspective shifting, and collaboration that includes everyone; a world in which we all (including his new granddaughter) can flourish and thrive as we call upon our multiple ethnicities and racial backgrounds to build a rich, vibrant society.

    Amir Ahmed pulled the conference learning together in the closing plenary by sharing stories of personal and familiar experiences of prejudice and encouraging us to better integrate a social justice and equity lens into our intercultural work.  These arenas of work, he said, should not be seen as separate or competitive, but rather be integrated to support each other for better outcomes. We must not let the importance of power and social inequities go unnoticed and unremarked, and the tools and skills of intercultural work such as perspective shifting and adaptation can then help us bridge the existing divides and achieve both understanding and equity.

    Plenary Speakers: Jill Savitt shared stories of her work in genocide and reconciliation around the world as well as her work in Atlanta at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.  She stressed the importance of not only acknowledging the atrocities, but also strategies for reaching beyond to achieve healing and future justice and equity, 

    Joe Lurie, author of Perception and Deception, provided stunning examples of misperceptions across a multitude of cultures that reveal much about what’s behind many cultural clashes in work places, schools, and in the news. Participants left energized, enriched, educated, and entertained from his plenary address.

    Tatyana Fertelmeyster and Vicki Flier Hudson shared stories and strategies for how to do the business of intercultural work and be prosperous.  They discussed some of the challenges one faces as well as tools and suggestions for overcoming them. 

    The Master Workshops highlighted skills and strategies for listening to enhance understanding and our own triggers, for how to strategically position your services to calculate and market the value-added you bring, the importance of distinguishing between intent and impact in design and execution of our work, how to utilize games and interactive activities in ways that are safe and instructive - especially the debriefing sessions, exploring the various arenas of intercultural work and how one might position themselves, and strategies for integrating process and content in our bridging work.

    The Gala Dinner on Friday night was a wonderful time for people to dress up, relax a bit with some great food and good music for dancing.  There were even some great masks there—thanks for the creativity and fun!

    In the Closing Session, Sandy Fowler, SIETAR USA President led us in an activity to synthesize the conference experience and create a bumper sticker.  The winning slogan is, "Change Behavior Change Minds" submitted by Russanne Bucci.

    In summary, it was a great conference thanks to the hard work of a whole team and the generous contributions and sharing of all.  You are SIETAR.

    Now I pass the torch to Deborah Orlowski and her team for 2020.  Hope to see you there.

    Karen Lokkesmoe 2019 Conference Chair

  • 25 Nov 2019 3:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear SIETAR USA Members and Friends,

    As you may have heard, Dr Michael Paige was selected as the 2019 recipient of the Margaret D Pusch Founders Award. Because Michael is not with us to accept the award and as a tribute to his vast contributions to SIETAR and the intercultural field, we are inviting all who knew him or were touched by his work to contribute to a memory book which will be presented to his widow, Barbara King, in his honor.  Here is the link:


    The deadline for contributions is Dec 11th, 2019.

    Please share a favorite anecdote, story, photo, training tip, or create a collage or a meme as your tribute.  And please feel free to forward this message to anyone you think might want to contribute.

    Thank you,

    The Margaret D Pusch Founders Award Nominations Committee

  • 25 Nov 2019 3:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For the past 3 years, the Practitioners of Color Forum has met at the conference as a regular session. SIETAR USA is committed to supporting our members who are Practitioners of Color. We are all in this society together but it is recognized that Practitioners of Color have special experiences and circumstances that they want to discuss. The lunch meeting on October 31, the first day of the conference in Atlanta was, as it turned out, not the best time for such a meeting. However, based on what we have learned from the 2019 meeting, the time and place for a POC meeting at the conference in 2020, will be different.

    As President on behalf of the SIETAR USA Board of Directors I’d like to offer an apology to the Practitioners of Color for the unpleasant ending to their meeting since our intent, while being respectful, didn’t match the impact. Despite the best of intentions we all stumble occasionally, but even though we slip up, we are committed to learning from our mistakes.

    The Board is reviewing the issues raised by the incident, the requests and concerns identified by the Practitioners of Color, and will report specific actions we can take for our future.

    We are all on this path together and with the help and understanding of all of us in SIETAR USA, we can move forward to creating an association that truly feels like “home” to everyone.

    Sandra M. Fowler, President

  • 25 Nov 2019 3:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The closing event at the SIETAR USA conference was an activity that helped people distill what the conference meant to them. We also used it as a vehicle for giving away a free Master Workshop for the 2020 conference in Omaha. Our group of 3 judges had a hard time deciding who the winner was because so many of the bumper stickers were so good. I usually find myself referring to it as the Bumper Sticker Exercise but if you say that to participants, they know what is coming. So, I’ve changed it as you can see. Our winner was Russanne Bucci with “Change Behavior, Change Minds.” Some others: “World That Works=Everyone.” “Keep Opening Your Mind.” “Through Inquiry Comes Direction.” “Interculturalist On Board.” And one that I like that was repeated, “I Will Be Back.”

    This is an exercise that I have found useful in many settings and I thought you might want to have it for your own use. Put your content into the frame and it should work well. It focuses people on what is important. It goes quickly and provides some good discussion as a result. I introduced it as the way to determine what you will say on the elevator when someone asks: “So how was the conference?”

    Thiagi’s Reduction Exercise

    Assign teams. Divide the participants into 3 to 5 teams, each with 2 to 7 members.

    Get started. Ask an open-ended question (such as: What is the mission of our organization? How should we delight our customers?) Ask each team to come up with a response in exactly 16 words – no more, no less. Assign a 3-minute time limit.

    Review the 16-word responses. Ask each team to read its statements. Encourage everyone to listen carefully so they can “borrow” ideas from other teams’ statements for later use. After reading all responses, ask a panel of judges (which is assembled from the participants) to identify the “best” response.

    Shrink to 8 words. Ask teams to rewrite their responses in exactly 8 words. In this process, they may borrow ideas from other statements. Suggest that teams reduce the size of their responses by removing unimportant ideas, superfluous words, and redundant language. Assign a 3-minute time limit.

    Reduce by 50 percent. Repeat the process of collecting and reading the 8-word responses. Select the best statement as before. Now ask the teams to reduce their statement to one-half of its current size (to exactly 4 words) while retaining the essential concepts. Encourage teams to leave out secondary ideas instead of words. Assign a 2-minute time limit.


    1. Organize teams. Invite the participants to work with any number of friends, from 0 to 20.

    2. Assemble a panel of judges. Gather 3 to 7 judges from SIETAR VIPs or representative participants. (Have them develop their criteria for judging the winner.)

    3. Ask one of these questions: What was the most important event in the conference? How might your professional life change as a result of attending this conference? How was the conference? What did you learn?

    4. 16-word response. Ask the teams to come up with a response in exactly 16 words. Announce a suitable time limit.

    5. Judge the 16-word responses. Ask representative from different teams to read their responses. Ask the panel of judges to identify the best response, using what criteria they want.

    6. Conduct two more rounds in teams. One for 8 words and the other for 4 words. Repeat the judging procedure as before.

    7. Each individual: Prepare a bumper sticker. Ask each person to prepare a bumper sticker with the best 4-word response and display it on the wall.

    Sandra Fowler
    Guest Training Tip Author

  • 25 Nov 2019 3:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Have you considered marketing to your existing clients differently than to prospective clients who’ve never heard from you? If your interested in long term business instead of several one-time engagements, think about creating a different type of marketing. Studies show it costs approximately five times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain a current one.

    Create a list of your current clients rather than new prospects who don’t know you or your business. Next design a campaign or marketing activity to increase client retention, loyalty, growth, and community participation. The more you understand your client base, the more likely you are to form meaningful, long term relationships with them. With their positive word of mouth, you will gain more referrals. Sharing your successes of satisfied clients is one of the marketing strategies. Brand advocates are much more likely to share a great experience with their colleagues.

    In my practice, the Global Coach Center, our existing clients are intercultural coaches who have been certified to debrief the online self-assessment tool called the ICBI (Individual Cultural Blueprint Indicator). We give priority to our GCC coach community when we need a trainer or coach. Creating a sense of community is important and fun, so we have an online Facebook and Linked in group where we share experiences and opportunities with each other. We stay in touch with our group of GCC coaches with updates of tool improvements, announcements of new certified GCC coaches, and ICBI country additions. We’ve organized virtual meetings to share best practices especially when several coaches/trainers are working with the same client.

    In order for our GCC coaches to gain more of their own clients, we help them and provide marketing consulting tailored to their unique skills and services. We also encourage our certified colleagues to post the GCC certification logo on their social media posts and in the Linked In section of certifications and affiliations. This has led to mutual success in our efforts to provide intercultural awareness and build cultural competencies.

    Valerie Bath
    President, Global Coach Center

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