Welcome to the SIETAR USA Blog

Like to submit your blog contribution ? If so, click here to see the guidelines. 

  • 09 Oct 2019 9:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Two reasons to be at the SIETAR USA National Conference: 1. the high quality roster of concurrent sessions, and 2. the exciting list of invited speakers this year.  Here are just a few highlights—come to the conference to hear them speak!

    In addition to our Opening Keynote Speaker, Hamlin Grange of DiversiPro, Inc., who will encourage us to think differently about being prodigal interculturalists, we have several other invited speakers who will share their expertise and insights at the conference.  Hamlin's speech was featured in our July Newsletter.

    Closing Keynote - Saturday, November 2

    Amer Ahmed, Speaker, Facilitator  

    Dismantling the ‘U.S. versus International’ Dichotomy: Creating Synergy between Intercultural and Diversity/Social Justice Approaches to Confront 21st Century Challenges  
    Intercultural approaches are often adopted by those in organizations who engage in international and global efforts while Diversity and Social Justice approaches tend to be viewed as only applicable in U.S. contexts.  As the trend of Globalizing business, higher education and other sectors rapidly accelerates, there are many missed opportunities due to the lack of synthesis of the two approaches.   This dichotomy often prevents us from understanding the relationship between local and global factors that impact our ability to engage constituencies holistically.  For example, by engaging issues related to immigration and more specifically undocumented people in only one of these approaches, it prevents us from understanding the relationship between local and global factors impacting diverse contextual realities around the world.  In addition, the integration of these approaches better highlights the historical context and inequities created from power dynamics that must be considered in order to effectively navigate intercultural realities in our world today.

    Dr. Amer F. Ahmed is an organizational strategist who helps institutions and leaders address diversity and inclusion, equity, and intercultural development through consulting, coaching, group facilitation, and keynote speeches.

    The Three Track Plenaries start the morning on Friday, November 1

    Track I: The Role Of The Interculturalist: Diversity, Inclusion, And Social Justice

    Jill Savitt, President & CEO, National Center for Civil and Human Rights 

    "Rights and Dignity in a Divided World"  

    Jill Savitt will address the need for sustained rights advocacy campaigning—building the skills and capacities within civil society to change policies that affect the dignity of communities. A human rights advocate with special expertise in genocide prevention, she curated an exhibit on global human rights at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Previously, Savitt was the Acting Director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. She founded and directed Dream for Darfur, a high-profile advocacy campaign that pressed the Chinese government to take specific actions regarding the Darfur crisis in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Games. Savitt graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and began her career as a reporter for WAMU the NPR affiliate in Washington, DC.  
    Track II: The Role Of The Interculturalist: Working With Specific Cultures

    Joe Lurie, Author and Educator

    "Decoding Cultural Disconnects with Refugee and Immigrant Populations"

    Joe Lurie presents a revealing exploration of misperceptions of and miscommunications with various refugee and immigrant populations, with a particular emphasis on different approaches to health care, religion, employment and politesse. We may be reminded of the limitations of our own cultural and experiential lenses when engaging with these communities, and likely amazed at what we can learn about ourselves and gain from others through the eyes of a stranger. As a North African proverb suggests, "The Camel Does Not See its Hump!" Joe Lurie served as Executive Director of UC Berkeley’s International House for two decades. His inspired leadership was featured in a national PBS documentary about UC Berkeley's International House. A former director of semester and summer programs abroad for the School for International Training in France, Kenya, and Ghana, Joe lived in Europe for four years, and lectures widely for UC Berkeley's Cal Discoveries in Africa, Asia, and Europe ; he is fluent in French as well as Swahili which he learned as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya. Formerly Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for AFS Intercultural Programs in the United States and National Study Abroad Chair for NAFSA'S Association of International Educators, Joe holds an advanced degree and Diploma in African Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he was recipient of an NDFL Fellowship in African Languages.  He is author of the award-winning “Perception and Deception–A Mind Opening Journey Across Cultures,” published in an expanded second edition in 2018 by Cultural Detective/Nipporica Associates. 

    Track III: The Role Of The Interculturalist: Building Skills And Taking Them To The Market Place 

    Tatyana Fertelmeyster and Vicki Flier Hudson, Trainers, Consultants, and Business Owners

    "From Passion to Payment and Back: Staying True to Your Purpose While Growing Your Business"   


    Tatyana and Vicki, two very different women, owners of two very different intercultural businesses are joining forces to challenge SIETARians to examine the intercultural skills that are essential business development and business building and asking why we are often so good at being our own obstacles.  They say it all started with a SIETAR-style conversation—the kind in which minds are ignited by each other, sparks of ideas fly, and constant interruptions are unavoidable because you just have to finish each other’s sentences. “Mind your own business” was at the core of that conversation. How do you actually mind it? What does it take to plant your passion, water it with sweat (and yes – a lot of tears) and see it grow or watch it resist your efforts?

    If feeling like an imposter or second-guessing yourself when deciding on how to charge for your work sounds familiar – join in on this conversation. Interculturalists are supposed to be experts in reinventing ourselves. Get on board – next stop is business success!

    Tatyana Fertelmeyster, born and raised in Moscow, Russia, came to the United States in 1989 as a refugee. Being a journalist by training, she went back to school in the US and became a mental health counselor. Tatyana’s work experience before becoming an intercultural and diversity consultant and trainer included refugee resettlement and counseling for Russian- and English-speaking individuals, families, and groups.

    Founder and Principal of Connecting Differences, Tatyana is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in Intercultural Competence, Diversity and Inclusion, Global Agility Development, and Facilitation for Multicultural Groups. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.

    Vicki Flier Hudson is the Chief Collaboration Officer of Highroad Global Services, Inc., a company that exists to release the power of diverse teams. She offers keynote presentations, workshops, and organizational strategy for working effectively across differences. She has brought training and consulting to companies like Procter & Gamble, IHG, UPS, The Home Depot, The Coca Cola Company, NASA, Martin Marietta, and many more. She is the author of the book Zen and the Art of Offshoring: How to Build a Collaborative and Profitable Team with Your Partners in India, and a recipient of Kennesaw State University’s Instructor of the Year award for International Programs.

    Vicki is a certified DISC practitioner and a certified Driving Forces Analyst. She is also a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a certified facilitator of the Cultural Detective methodology and a trained coach through CTI (Coaches Training Institute). 

  • 09 Oct 2019 9:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This conference theme, The Role of the Interculturalist, really speaks to me at this time of adversity, especially around issues of diversity. I think we, as a society, as a world, need to think deeply about what our role is in today's contentious environment. How should we bridge differences, highlight similarities, and advocate for greater understanding and cooperation? How can we build skills, support each other in this work, and stay positive about the future?

    It is my belief that this conference will provide inspiration, insight, tools, skill building, and hope to those working in areas that bridge diversity. So peruse the sessions schedule, review the invited speakers, grab your donation for the Silent Auction and join us in Atlanta! We welcome you!

    I also want to send a heartfelt Thank You to all the many people who have worked on making the conference come together—it really does take a village. Detailed notes of appreciation will follow, but for now, please know that your efforts are appreciated. You make a difference.

    I look forward to seeing you at the conference.

    Karen Lokkesmoe
    SIETAR Conference Chair

  • 09 Oct 2019 8:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NED TALKSIf you have been looking at the 2019 Conference Schedule on the website or Whova, you may have noticed the NED talks. They were explained in the Call for Proposals but I think that it is worth mentioning them again. They are named for Edward T. Hall, who was called Ned by his friends. They are of course, a takeoff on TED talks. I’m not sure what the initials should stand for in the intercultural world but I rather like New Experiences Delight. What do you think?

    The NED Talks for the conference this year will highlight multiple ways in which the role of the interculturalist is defined, enacted, and understood in the world. Specific topics covered will include managing communications in global teams (Vinita Balasubramanian), embedding intercultural learning in English instruction (Margaret Hass), strategies for recognizing and reducing unconscious bias (Stacie Walton), lessons learned in close quarters at sea (Basma Ibrahim DeVries and Jon DeVries), using stories to build empathy (Catalia Chaux-Eheverri and Jessie Ritchey) and defining which cultural box you might select (Yuko Deneuville).

    This group of powerhouse presenters will surely have some great insights and rich humor to share with us regarding building and employing intercultural skills. NED Talks will be presented during two concurrent sessions: Thursday 1:45-3:15PM and Friday 11:45-3:15PM.

    For full details, check out the Session Schedule:

  • 09 Oct 2019 8:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Perhaps you have noticed that we used to call it the SIETAR USA Annual Conference. But this year we have switched to the National Conference. Why, you ask?

    The Board of Directors decided not to hold a conference in 2018 to be able to review the conference and see if there were some changes that might be made to streamline the organization of the conference and make it less expensive to conduct. They wanted answers to questions like what might be dropped from the program? What could be outsourced? What cost efficiencies could be introduced?

    Tradition runs strong in SIETAR USA. There was at least one advocate for each of the events that have been part of our conference schedule. Since we are a small association with quite a low membership fee there is not extra money to outsource any more than we already do. We are an all-volunteer, working Board to begin with, so none of us has the time over and above what we already dedicate to SIETAR USA to be able to take on more conference duties.

    A good solution that the Board agreed on was to go to an every-other-year plan. Therefore the change: annual (meaning every year) to national. Part of the plan was to hold SIETAR USA conferences not to conflict with SIETAR Europa who holds their conferences in odd numbered years. To get on that schedule, SIETAR USA will hold our next conference in 2020 in Omaha, Nebraska. Henceforth, the national conferences will be held during the even-numbered years.

    We feel that members will be receiving benefits during the off years with the lively webinars, the substantial newsletter, membership discounts for books and journals, and the Office Depot discount. With extra time in between, members can be planning their participation for the next SIETAR USA conference. We plan to revisit the decision in the future to see if this plan retains the quality conferences and active membership that we have enjoyed for two decades.

  • 09 Oct 2019 8:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Party Mask

    What is different this year? The gala evening begins with a masked mix-and-mingle time prior to a plated dinner. Both the masks and the plated dinner are different.

    Masks are a tribute to Halloween; since the SIETAR USA conference this year takes place over Halloween, we thought it would be fun to add something to the evening with a masked time. A mask is optional but we hope that you will consider adding a mask to your suitcase. You won’t be asked to wear it during dinner. The plated dinner is different also since we usually do a buffet. For people who indicated special dietary requirements, the chef will prepare something delicious for you that you can actually eat!

    Plan to pack your dancing shoes. The Black Tie DJ will be there ready to provide three hours of good dancing music. This will be a highlight event!

    Dancing Shoes

  • 09 Oct 2019 8:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Quite a few years ago, I wrote this list. I return to it as I prepare for another conference and it still makes sense to me. I repeat it here and hope that some of the reasons speak to you as well.

    This actually changed for me over the years. In the beginning I was new to the field and hungry for help in conceptualizing how to revamp the US Navy’s intercultural program. So I was looking for ideas both old and new and in those days the field wasn’t very old so most of the ideas were new—at least to me because I was so new to this new field. But as I became part of the fabric of SIETAR by giving presentations at the conferences that lead to volunteering and serving on committees and task forces, I came to realize how much the conferences satisfied my need for belonging. SIETAR conferences also helped me develop my identity as an interculturalist. If you hang out with interculturalists (even just once a year) you do eventually become one. Another thing about coming back is that you develop favorites among the presenters so you keep going to their sessions and finding more enjoyment each time from them. So here are my ten top reasons for coming back to SIETAR conferences:

    10. To get new ideas.

    9. To learn more about the old ideas.

    8. To find resources—written, video, and living.

    7. To hone my presentation skills.

    6. To establish my identity as an interculturalist.

    5. To satisfy my need for belonging.

    4. To give back.

    3. To attend sessions by great presenters.

    2. To make new friends.

    1. To spend time with and catch up with old friends.

    Sandra M. Fowler
    SIETAR USA President

  • 09 Oct 2019 8:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    October 30-November 2, 2019: SIETAR USA National Conference, From Adversity to Diversity: The Role of the Interculturalist, Atlanta, GA – REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! Visit https://www.sietarusa.org/registration for details and sign up TODAY!


    October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This observance was launched in 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1998, the week was extended to a month and renamed. The annual event draws attention to employment barriers that still need to be addressed.

    October is also LGBT History Month, a U.S. observance started in 1994 to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and the history of the gay-rights movement.

    October 20: Sikh Holy Day, the day Sikhs celebrate Sri Guru Granth Sahib, their spiritual guide.

    October 21-22 (sundown to sundown): Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday, marks the end of the weekly readings of the Torah. The holy book is read from chapter one of Genesis to Deuteronomy 34 and then back to chapter one again, in acknowledgement of the words of the Torah being a circle, a never-ending cycle.

    October 27-31: Diwali, the Hindu, Jain and Sikh five-day festival of lights celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and lightness over darkness.

    October 28: Milvian Bridge Day, a one-day festival in Fayetteville, West Virginia. It is the only day of the year people can BASE jump off a bridge into New River Gorge.

    October 31: All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), a celebration observed in a number of countries on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs and all the faithful departed.

    October 31-November 1 (sundown to sundown): Samhain, a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year.


    November is National Native American Heritage Month, which celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans.

    November 1: All Saints’ Day, a Christian holiday commemorating all known and unknown Christian saints. (In Eastern Christianity, the day is observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost.)

    November 2: All Souls’ Day, a Christian holiday commemorating all faithful Christians who are now dead. In the Mexican tradition, the holiday is celebrated as Dia de los Muertos (October 31- November 2), which is a time of remembrance for dead ancestors and a celebration of the continuity of life.

    November 9-10 (sundown to sundown): Eid Milad un-Nabi, an Islamic holiday commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad. During this celebration, homes and mosques are decorated, large parades take place, and those observing the holiday participate in charity events.

    November 10: Mawlid an Nabi, observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which is commemorated in Rabi' al-awwal.

    November 11: Veterans Day, a U.S. federal holiday honoring military veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces. The date was originally celebrated as Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day, in other parts of the world and commemorates the day the Armistice with Germany went into effect in 1918, calling an end to World War I.

    Holidays list courtesy of:https://www.diversitybestpractices.com/2019-diversity-holidays

  • 14 Sep 2019 7:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    September is the month when SIETAR USA begins its search for Executives and Board members for the ensuing year. It’s nominations time! That process is honchoed by the Immediate Past President, Holly Emert. She sets the schedule, publishes the announcements, ensures transparency, makes sure that deadlines are met, and helps insure that we have good candidates for each position. It’s a big job but people willing to serve SIETAR USA on the Board or the Executive Committee are the life blood that keeps it alive.

    What is important to know if you are considering applying for a position on the Board? Yes, there is a time commitment. SIETAR USA is a volunteer organization, which means you are devoting a portion of your life to something that is important to you. The Board of Directors is a working Board. We have a paid Administrative Officer (thank goodness!) who handles the books and many other tasks that are essential. The Board meets by Zoom 11 times a year (one summer meeting for July and August). The virtual meetings last from one to two hours. We meet two times a year in person: a 3-day retreat meeting in February or March and one full day prior to the conference. Those meetings are compensated.

    The Board consists of Portfolios and each Portfolio has a Director. All initiatives or projects are carried out by the Directors and their committees. For example, the webinar series was initiated by Julia Gaspar-Bates, Local Groups Director, who felt that this would be a benefit to the Local Group members not all of whom can get to the national conferences. This way they still get to hear from speakers with special expertise and it is a benefit to all members. The work on such initiatives might take 4-6 hours a month, depending on what is needed. Directors have some specific tasks but by and large, select their own goals based on what they want to work on.

    An interesting way to think of association governance is as a culture. There are norms and values, and behavioral expectations. We work as a collective for the good of the association and independently on our own projects. Some of us are definitely rule makers while others are rule breakers (to use Michele Gelfand’s cultural dichotomy), which keeps it interesting.

    For me, the satisfaction of dedicating time and thought to an association that I’ve participated in for so many years and making it hum is my reward for the hours put into it. It is giving back. It is connecting with people I’ve known over the years and new people who step forward to serve. It is working to keep the SIETAR USA spirit alive as well as its body. Is there a right time to add a Board position into your busy schedule? The answer is: there is never a “right” time. Everyone on the Board has a full-time job, families, homes, colleagues, and days and nights full of the things that take time but make life worthwhile. I like to think that the time anyone would spend on SIETAR USA also enriches their already rich lives. It does for me.

    Join us to help SIETAR USA move forward. I know you can do it!

    Sandra M. Fowler
    President SIETAR USA

  • 14 Sep 2019 7:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Making your flight reservations for the Atlanta Conference? Please take advantage of our special arrangement with Delta and obtain a good discount. You have to call Delta to get the discount; not your own agent. The Delta Phone Number is +1-800-328-1111.

    The Locator Number is NMT5U and the contract number is 432440.

  • 14 Sep 2019 7:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The Marriott Gateway Hotel at the Atlanta Airport was chosen for its convenient airport location and its good fit for a SIETAR USA conference. In a spirit of fairness, we plan the conferences to move around the country to provide nearby locations every few years. We were in San Diego in 2017 and now on the East Coast in 2019. In 2020, we will be in the center of the country. You will find the Marriott experience one to enjoy. Their hospitality is world-renowned.

    The lobby is newly updated. When you arrive, there will be helpful staff waiting to check you in. You will see SIETAR USA people sitting and chatting in the lobby or perhaps in the lobby bar—both good places for sitting and catching up or meeting other attendees.

    When you have checked in, you may need some way to relax. Consider a swim or some exercise. The hotel has a salt water swimming pool (pack a swimsuit!) and an adjacent fitness center.

    The traditional wellness program will begin at 7 AM on Thursday morning but you are welcome to use the fitness center and pool whenever they are open.

    Perhaps you are a person who likes to rest after a flight and you can expect very comfortable beds in your assigned room. You ask, “But near one of the world’s busiest airports?” The SIETAR USA Board of Directors held its annual retreat meeting at the Atlanta Marriott Gateway to check out the noise level. We were all amazed at how quiet it is. If you really listen hard, you could be aware of airplane noise, but we found that it is quieter than a hotel near a freeway. Noise should not be an issue for any of us, whether sleeping or listening to a Master Workshop or concurrent session presenter or keynote speaker.

    SIETAR USA conference goers know that we do serve a lot of food so no one leaves our conferences hungry. If you need something first thing in the morning—before the rest of us are awake—you can find food and Starbucks coffee to buy in the Terminal East Market off the Marriott lobby. There will be a morning break with food and beverages, lunch in the middle of the day, and an afternoon break with food and beverages. Friday—and only Friday—is a special morning because we will provide a full breakfast for you. It is also the annual business meeting that is required by our By Laws. Do plan to come and find out more about the State of SIETAR USA. Meet the scholarship awardees, meet the Board of Directors, learn how you can get involved. Find out about the SIETAR USA Academy Leadership Program.

    What about the meeting rooms? They are off this corridor—another good place to mingle between sessions, after lunch, during the breaks. We wanted to make sure that hotel offered the opportunity to run into someone you’ve been meaning to connect with or look at the exhibits or sit for a few minutes with an old friend and this is it! Picture it full of SIETAR USA people from across the country and the globe.

    The ballroom—picture it without the long tables. Put in round tables where you can listen to a keynote speaker. At lunch you can sit here too. This is the hub of the conference where there will be the opening session, opening keynote address, meals, the closing keynote and closing session.

    Register today and join us for an exciting SIETAR USA conference! 


Contact Us
P.O. Box 548
Wheaton, IL 60187-4729


Wild Apricot theme design and development by Webbright