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  • 14 Sep 2020 1:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sandra FowlerThis issue of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA is chock full of conference news giving you the opportunity to read about the virtual experience coming so soon. Many of your questions should be answered and it is a good preview. But before I move on to the conference, I’d like to bring up the Office of Management and Budget announcement of the White House memo calling for a ban that forbids federal agencies from funding diversity, equity and inclusion training that includes white supremacy or critical race theory. It is considered by the Administration as divisive, un-American, and far-left indoctrination. Additional federal guidance on training sessions is forthcoming, maintaining that “the President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States.” (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/04/trump-antiracism-training-white-privilege-critical-race-theory)

             That is tantamount to the Administration trying to tell us how to do our jobs and that is not acceptable. I would like to extend my appreciation to our colleagues who do DEI training for the government. I also extend my sympathies, but I strongly believe that this too shall pass. In the meantime, it will be interesting to read what the Administration thinks should be included in DEI training.

    On a happier note, I like to think of the upcoming conference as a smorgasbord. The Conference Committee has arranged a menu that includes succulent concurrent sessions, tasty invited workshops, delicious invited speakers, gourmet wellness sessions, and other special tidbits such as Happy Hours. The two appetizers are the Live Online Learning Activities workshop sponsored by SIETAR USA and conducted by Sivasailam Thiagarajan and Matt Richter. A second appetizer is the special session by veteran SIETAR USA member Shelley Morrison. She has been doing virtual training longer than anyone I know, and her helpful tips are all gems—not to be missed. The Opening Keynote is a special dish that starts the conference. Then the main course items are the concurrent sessions designed and presented by members. And for dessert, you have Patricia Coleman who will offer the closing keynote. You will end the conference “well-fed!”

    One special session worth mentioning is the Annual Business Meeting on Monday, October 12th. A lot has been happening with our complete Board so full of enthusiasm and inspired ideas. The Board of Directors looks forward to reporting on such things as the Financial situation (very good), the health of our Local Groups, the webinars scheduled for the first half of 2021, several important Professional Development initiatives, Membership numbers (a good place to volunteer), Leadership Development (we will be in the middle of a nomination/election cycle), Communication innovations (another spot for volunteers), Sponsor Partner developments (news to announce there!), and of course, a 2021 Conference preview. It will also be a time when the President Elect (Brett) can give you an idea of what his plans are for his 2-year term starting 1 January 2021.

    N.B. The Full Schedule is in the conference section on the SIETAR USA website. We are working on the background information that answers the questions you might have regarding each session: presenter bios and session descriptions. There will be a link to provide easy access to the resource material.

    We expect to learn a lot from this conference—not only from the presenters. We will also be learning which decisions were good ones and which not so much. We want to learn from your experiences as well, so please complete the evaluation to help us craft virtual conferences in the future that meet your needs and wants. We are still confident that we will be able to meet in person in 2021 in Omaha.

    I look forward to seeing you throughout the virtual conference and in a year, see you in Omaha!


    Sandra M. Fowler

    President SIETAR USA

  • 14 Sep 2020 12:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear SIETAR USA members and colleagues,

    The future of SIETAR USA depends on its members to support its mission and to provide the leadership to guide the organization. To that end, we are issuing the 2020 Call for Nominations for the Board of Directors of SIETAR USA. 

    The SIETAR USA Leadership values diversity in all of its forms and is committed to creating and fostering an inclusive environment for all SIETAR USA members. We invite and encourage all members of our community to participate in the Board of Directors election process to support our efforts to cultivate a culture that embraces and values diversity, equity and inclusion. 

    You may nominate yourself or another member of the organization. Any candidate for Board positions must meet the following criteria in addition to role-specific requirements listed in each position description. 

    Possess a strong background and understanding of the intercultural and/or diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) fields

    Be a member in good standing with SIETAR USA (or willing to become a member)

    Be a member who has attended at least one SIETAR USA conference in the past five years

    Open Positions

    We currently have two board positions open for nominations in 2020:

    • Leadership Development Director
    • Communications Director

    Detailed job descriptions for the positions will be posted shortly on the SIETAR USA website.

    Nomination Deadline

    All nominations must be submitted in writing by e-mail to both info@sietarusa.org and boardleadership@sietarusa.org by:

    Tuesday, September 29, 2020


    The Nominations Committee identifies candidates through a nomination process for each position based on the required skill and knowledge sets needed for each position. This slate is then announced to the members of SIETAR USA. If there is more than one candidate for a position, an election will be held.

    New Board members will serve their terms starting January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023. They will serve a three-year term and carry responsibilities for the portfolio for which they were elected. Upon completion of his/her three-year term, every board member can choose to self-nominate for three more years of the same or a different board position and go through the nomination process as any new candidate would during that same nomination cycle. According to the by-laws SIETAR USA Board membership generally cannot exceed nine (9) consecutive years.

    General Duties of Members of the Board of Directors

    • Board members serve a three-year term (unless noted otherwise) and carry responsibilities for the portfolio to which they are appointed. 
    • Board members must sign and abide by the Board Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest documents. As all members of the society, they are encouraged to support and sign the Living Code of Ethics. 
    • Board members are expected to attend the SIETAR USA Annual Conference, the Annual Board Meeting (a one-day in-person meeting before or after the conference), and the Board of Directors Annual Retreat (a three-day business meeting held each year in February or March). 
    • Board members are expected to participate in monthly Board of Directors teleconference meetings. 

    Feel free to contact us with any questions at boardleadership@sietarusa.org

  • 14 Sep 2020 12:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The President Elect was heard to say that everyone who is presenting at the SIETAR USA conference should make it a priority to attend Shelley Morrison’s pre-conference Workshop. And, of course, even if you are not a conference presenter, this workshop can make a difference for your work as well.

    "One New Tip Could Make All the Difference:
    Virtual Training, Teaching & Presenting" 
    September 22, 2020. 11:00AM - 2:00PM CDT.

    Whether you are teaching and training virtually by choice or necessity, a virtual pro or new transitioning – this workshop is for you.  Join our pre-conference Invited Workshop being presented by virtual training guru Shelley Morrison.  It is included in your conference registration fee, so register today to qualify. 

    During this 3-hr session Shelley will share tools, tips, and techniques to convert boring corporate or classroom trainings into vibrant, interactive, virtual ones.  There is sure to be something for everyone.  Virtual training and teaching will remain a part of our future, even when we return to in-person interactions.  Shelley will share her many years of experience making virtual skills an asset.  She always seems to have creative and engaging ways to present and develop vibrant, interactive learning. 

    Are you PRESENTING at the 2020 SIETAR USA Virtual Conference? 

    This would be a great way to pick up a tip or two that will make your presentation even more effective.  That’s why we are offering it prior to the conference, so you can take advantage of this great opportunity.

    Full details about this pre-conference invited workshop are available on the conference website.   Hope to see you there.

  • 14 Sep 2020 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You may not have considered becoming a sponsor for a SIETAR USA conference in the past, but there is a new opportunity this year. For a nominal fee, you can become  a recognized Friend of SIETAR USA. Go to the conference sponsor webpage to check it out.

     You may be thinking, “why should I consider this?”  First, it's a great way to gain recognition for your work or your company as a supporter of SIETAR USA.  It's a way to stand up and be counted among a group that is known for being on the leading edge of training, research, and education in our field.

    Secondly, we count on revenue from our events, memberships, and donations to keep us running and the lights on.  Because we strive to keep our membership fees (not increased since our inception in 2000) and our event fees affordable and accessible for as many as possible, they don't cover all our costs, which keep rising. Our Sponsors and Friends are critically important to the welfare of our organization - your organization.

    Finally, the main reason to consider becoming a Friend of SIETAR USA is that our society is your professional home, and it provides a place to learn and grow and connect with people who understand the important work you do in the world. Even if you have decided not to register for the conference, you can become a Friend of SIETAR USA, and I sincerely hope that you will find it in your heart to do so today.

    By becoming a Friend of SIETAR USA you can accomplish much for just a little. 

    Thank you, Friend!


    Sandra M. Fowler

    President, SIETAR USA

  • 14 Sep 2020 12:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Who Are You? & Have You Registered Yet?

    Robert Quinn, a brilliant former professor of business at the University of Michigan wrote a book titled, Building the Bridge As You Walk on It: A Guide for Leading Change. In the first chapter he tells the story of a medical director who was speaking to him about several of her amazing leaders. Quinn asked what they do that makes them outstanding. She replied, “It’s not about what they do, it’s about who they are.” As intercultural and DEI professionals we know what we do. At our annual conferences, as SIETARians we have the opportunity to look into ourselves and ask, “Who are we as interculturalists?”

    This year has seen many of us digging deeply and personally into the questions of who we are, what we believe and how we use our vast skills in a society riddled with a pandemic, social justice movements, political fighting and everyday struggles. Our 50+ concurrent session presenters have been doing the same, but their deep insights are being shared with us. Beginning with Shelley Morrison’s Pre-Conference workshop sharing tools, tips and techniques for making more engaging online presentations, straight through to our closing keynote by Patricia Malidor Coleman who is going to show us how to “Globalisciousl - Stretch into Change,” you will find Invited Workshops carefully curated to address the issues that we interculturalists are facing right now. In addition, there will be:

    • Opportunities for Practitioners of Color to meet together
    • Time set aside for those who want to address racial justice issues and how they impact SIETAR USA
    • A  world-wide meeting where we will hear from leaders across the globe to discuss how COVID and the racial justice movements are being addressed in their countries
    • Sessions on how to take care of our bodies – mentally, spiritually and even physically
    • Performances by a Morin Khuur (Horse Head Fiddle) player and an extraordinary traditional Mongolian singer.  

    We know the SIETAR USA conference is an opportunity to reconnect, network, learn, have fun and hopefully leave being a more skilled practitioner. Yet it can be more. So very much more. For many of us, being an interculturalist isn’t about what we do, it’s who we are. We feel it deep in our bones. It’s not “just a job” but a driving passion, a way of viewing life. Register today for the 2020 SIETAR USA Virtual Conference. Come knowing what you do, leave with a much better and deeper sense of who you are.


    Invited workshops are a special group of interactive workshops. These presenters are invited because of the deep expertise they combine with excellence in creating engaging, interactive, topical workshops. When the SIETAR USA conference is in-person, there is an extra fee for these sessions (called Master Workshops). Not this year! They are all included in your registration fee. Invited Workshops bring you the best of the best. You will not want to miss them. 

    "Mindfulness Practice for Intercultural and DEI Practitioners"

    One of the key skills for being an effective interculturalist is the ability to “notice.” Whether being aware of our own behaviors, beliefs and assumptions or assisting others in increasing their awareness, “mindfulness” cannot be underrated. Rita Wuebbler, one of the most in-demand practitioners/presenters at SIETARs throughout the world, will start SIETAR USA’s conference with a highly interactive session exploring mindfulness and how it can be used personally and in our work as interculturalists.


    • Rita Wuebbler, President, Interglobe Cross-Cultural Business Services, Inc.

    “Community Organizing, COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter: One Minneapolis Neighborhood's Efforts to Speak Up and Keep the Peace”

    We’ve seen the horrific shooting of Black men and women and watched the protests that have followed. Perhaps we’ve even marched in some. Have you ever wondered, however, “What if this was my neighborhood? What would I do?”  Basma and Jon didn’t need to wonder because it was their neighborhood. Learn from their compelling story of what happened as they and their neighbors struggled with how to remain safe from COVID-19 and heal the wounds in their neighborhood while still participating in social justice action protesting the deaths of yet another Black man by police.


    • Basma Ibrahim DeVries, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, Concordia University
    • Jon DeVries, Trainer & Consultant in Intercultural Competence, Team Building & Leadership Development

    "Mind, Mindfulness & the 3rd Pandemic of Mental Health"

    One of the arguments for reopening schools while we’re still in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis is that children need to be with their friends. But it’s not just the children who are suffering from the isolation of this world-wide pandemic. Depression and other mental health issues appear to be skyrocketing in adults due to COVID-19 and its effects on all aspects of our lives.  Dr. Mai Nguyen, standing-room-only presenter at last year’s conference in Atlanta, will engage us in a lively and accessible discussion of how our brains operate and how mindfulness can actually change the way our brains function.


    • Dr. Mai Nguyen, Associate Professor, Amsterdam University of Applied Science

    "Identifying & Developing Inclusive Behaviors: A Case Study with Assessments & Learning Interventions"

    If asked, could you identify what an inclusive behavior looks like? What it means to be interculturally competent? What are the links between the two? Can you identify them in your clients? Do you know how to design interventions for your clients based upon inclusion and cultural competence? If you are struggling with any of these questions or merely want to increase the effectiveness of your next client involvement, you will want to attend this workshop. Chris and Brett will walk us through techniques for answering these questions, assessing your client needs and then deciding upon proper intervention strategies.


    • Chris Cartwright, MPA, Ed.D., associate w/ Aperian Global, CLI, icEdge, and The Kozai Group
    • Brett Parry, Founder, The Cultural Mentor

  • 14 Sep 2020 12:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Scholarships for the SIETAR USA Virtual Conference

    Scholarship applications are being accepted for the conference that cover the cost of registration.  If you are a student studying an area relevant to intercultural work or are a new practitioner and a first-time conference attendee, please submit your application by September 15th, 2020.  This year’s virtual conference will be a great way to meet, mingle, and learn from intercultural, diversity, equity & inclusion, and social justice specialist from around the world.  All without having to pay for airfare and a hotel.  Join us, you won’t regret it.  Full details can be found on the SIETAR USA Conference webpage: https://www.sietarusa.org/scholarships

    WELLNESS Activities

    As we do every year at our national conferences, we will be offering a range of wellness activities arranged by our Wellness Coordinator, Debra Freathy, to keep you fit, relaxed, and ready to engage for the day.   Oct 9, 10, 12, 13 conference days will start with a wellness session in the morning.  They will include a range of yoga, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, and stretching.    

    As we do every year at our national conferences, we will be offering a range of wellness activities arranged by our Wellness Coordinator, Debra Freathy, to keep you fit, relaxed, and ready to engage for the day.   Oct 9, 10, 12, 13 conference days will start with a wellness session in the morning.  They will include a range of yoga, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, and stretching.    

    Links for the sessions will be posted in the Conference Web Home Page (on the Remo platform) and you can just click and join from the comfort of your home or office.

    Join the Sponsors of the first SIETAR USA  Virtual Conference.

    This year’s inaugural virtual conference is a great way to gain recognition and exposure to like-minded professionals, scholars, and students from all over the world.  The conference itself will take place from October 8-13 but also includes a full day of Invited Workshops on October 7 as well as a pre-conference webinar on September 22nd.  That provides 7 days of exposure for your organization to all our participants and presenters.  Let us help you extend your reach and your work.

    You can see in the chart below, that there are three sponsor levels from which to choose.  Each provides good exposure, comes with its own reward, and is evidence of your support to the field and to SIETAR USA.

    As a Presenting Sponsor you will receive two (2) complimentary conference registrations as well as visual and verbal recognition of your organization at the conference, on our website throughout the next year, as well as a virtual exhibit space where you can engage with participants through the 5 days of conference sessions (Oct 8, 9, 10, and 12,13).

    As a Supporting Sponsor you will receive one (1) complimentary conference registration and recognition as listed above.

    As a Friend of SIETAR USA you will be recognized at the SIETAR Annual business meeting as well as name and logo recognition on SIETAR USA website and the Conference website.

    Sponsor Levels

    Presenting Sponsor


    Supporting Sponsor


    Friend of SIETAR USA





    (2) Complimentary conference registrations

    (1) Complimentary conference registration

    (1) Virtual Exhibit Space

    (w/ your corporate branding)

    (1) Virtual Exhibit Space

    (w/ your corporate branding)

    Company recognition during all sessions & events throughout conference (inc. networking & SIETAR USA Business Meeting)

    Company recognition during opening/closing sessions, networking & SIETAR USA Business Meeting

    Company/Individual recognition during the SIETAR USA Business Meeting

    Company logo & website link on 2020 Conference website

    Company logo & website link on 2020 Conference website

    Logo/Name & website link on 2020 Conference website

    Company logo & website link on SIETAR USA website

    Company logo & website link on SIETAR USA website

    Logo/Name & website link on SIETAR USA website

    Which one best fits your organization?  Contact Karen Fouts at admin@sietarusa.org to make arrangements.  Full details on benefits and submission requirements are available at https://www.sietarusa.org/sponsorship-levels

  • 14 Sep 2020 9:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A devastating Saturday Night Live sketch earlier this year featured Kate McKinnon as the devil, gleefully hosting a number of parodied social pariahs. At the end of the sketch, the devil calls for her IT person, who turns out to be none other than Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (played by SNL’s Alex Moffat). His one-liner? “I just want everyone to know that I don’t endorse evil, I just help millions of people share it.”

    Those of us who do intercultural work could play a role in rescuing Mark Z. from the comedic underworld, but we will need to change our own ways to make this possible. Most education and training paradigms address culture in broad and unified terms, and confidently describe country norms based on decades of accumulated data. Supported by the bulk of the tools and publications in our field, they categorize and compare national cultures based on survey dimensions such as individual versus collective or task versus relationship.

    Yet this standard intercultural tool box is becoming increasingly inadequate in a time of “culture wars” fueled not only by self-serving demagogues, but also by social media content that demonizes internal as well as external enemies, pitting one social unit against another. The question then becomes how can we better understand and address cultural disunity and/or disintegration?

    Centripetal and Centrifugal

    Every culture contains both centripetal and centrifugal forces that either bring people together or pull them apart. Shared values and interests are to some degree essential for the citizens of any country to live together in a cooperative fashion and to achieve common goals. In the early part of this century, a popular media theme was the “triumph of democracy,” and many social commentators applauded the global spread of social values such as democratic representation, greater freedom of speech, equal opportunities, human rights, and the eradication of chronic poverty and disease, all bolstered by cross-border economic integration.

    The landscape looks much different now, with economic nationalism and a global pandemic drawing countries apart. There has been a slide toward authoritarianism and suppression of dissent in places such as China, Russia, and Turkey. Formerly model democracies, including the U.K. and the U.S., have become internally fractured by differences over hot-button topics such as systemic racism, social equity, immigration, urban and rural interests, religious differences, climate change, and law and order. Now we seem to be in a “spin cycle” mode, and the ever more ubiquitous impact of social media is receiving a large share of the blame.

    Social Media as a Driver of Disintegration

    The algorithms at the heart of social media are inherently divisive. User preferences are analyzed and recorded at a frighteningly granular level, largely because this is appealing to commercial advertisers seeking to target product placements as precisely as possible. The technology is so appealing in part because it allows people to stay connected with distant family and friends, and to offer inspiration and encouragement during difficult times. However, each social media customer is also shepherded toward mathematically constructed “echo chambers” featuring familiar topics and like-minded people who reinforce our pre-existing views along with products we are likely to prefer. Viral misinformation flourishes in this context, which is seldom subject to even the most basic journalistic fact-checking, giving rise to parallel media universes that each feature their own version of reality.[1] Social media leverages human frailty in very compelling ways as well it lures attention and repeat visits through headlines featuring titillation or outrage that attract humans like moths to flame.[2]

    What Those Who Work Across Cultures Can Do

    Fortunately, we have tools at our disposal in addition to the familiar country-level generalizations. The ongoing integration of intercultural work with the field of inclusion and diversity has brought updated knowledge of the human brain and of sources of unconscious bias, as well as methods to counteract biases that are harmful. And the core intercultural discipline that helps people progress from greater self-awareness to other-awareness to bridge-building retains its potency, even when applied to “cultures within cultures.”

    Identify Unconscious Bias

    Social media in its current form is so captivating because it broadcasts potent doses of content that appeal directly to the more primitive parts of the human brain. These include both the brain’s amygdala, with its instinctive reaction of fight or flight in response to perceived threats, and the limbic system that can breed anxiety, stress, and negative thinking or feeling loops that run in circular narratives.[3] Each of these states inhibits what Daniel Kahneman calls System 2 thinking, or the focused, receptive higher brain state centered in the frontal lobes of the brain that is conducive to new possibilities and bridge-building with others.

    Social media tends to reinforce four primary categories of unconscious bias, summarized in the CIAO model,[4] that are linked with amygdala or limbic responses:

    • Confirmation Bias: The selection of news that users see and hear, served up based on their prior consumption patterns, generally affirms what they already believe, and the groups they are invited to join are selected based on signs of shared views or interests.
    • Insider Bias: In-groups are created and strengthened through association with those who have like-minded preferences, while outsiders are invisibly walled off in other discrete social media units. Exchanges across such units tend to be negative, with commentators deriding the ignorance or moral depravity of the other group while receiving enthusiastic support from like-minded peers.
    • Attribution Bias: Mistakes or misconduct of those within our own media bubble can be explained based on unavoidable circumstances; meanwhile, others more distant from us are readily demonized based on fundamental character flaws and conspiracy theories, being labeled as “deplorables,” “rednecks,” “pedophiles,” “savages,” “antifa,” or worse.[5]
    • Overconfidence: When contradictory facts or views that might burst one’s own thought bubble are conveniently relocated to remote media corners, the tendency most people have already to be overconfident about their own judgments is further reinforced (more than 90% of presumably well-informed college professors believe they are above average teachers). 

    Challenge the Algorithms

    Social media companies have been ensnared by their own compelling logic and lavish rewards  free food, on site laundry service, and compensation packages creating 30-year old millionaires along with CEO billionaires  gleaned from the huge profit engine of targeted advertising. Attempts to address questions about their social impact are blunted because they do not challenge the underlying assumptions upon which the technology has been built.

    Leading firms under fire from politicians and social critics have spent heavily to monitor their platform content and to extract flagrantly abusive content that incites violence or harm, while simultaneously attempting to preserve freedom of speech. First-line armies of content-scanning AI bots are backed up by thousands of harried and often puzzled contract workers in places like India or the Philippines who are assigned to filter flagged content, and then by headquarters teams to whom the most ambiguous or politically sensitive issues are escalated.

    But all of these modern tools are still not nearly enough to counter the centrifugal damage these platforms do in augmenting public biases and pitting strangers against one another in ever more dramatic ways. The Pandora’s Box that social media firms have opened wide, tapping into our overstimulated animal brains, is overwhelming and must be countered with a fundamentally different formula. 

    Individuals with cultural knowledge have the skills to influence, both as personal users of social media and potentially as cultural advisers, the creation of new avenues for bridge-building. For example, instead of shunting users along pre-set pathways that broadcast alarming threats or invitations to cozy affinity groups, what if major platforms were to offer customers a choice between several new options, shaping an alternative set of algorithms accordingly? A simple set of options could include: 

    1. Show me only information that agrees with my point of view
    2. Show me other viewpoints sometimes
    3. Regularly offer me stories that conflict with my preferences

    Or, based on knowledge of bias and how to counter group think, we could recommend research-based coping strategies. For instance, these might include the request to “pair me with a social media conversation partner in a different part of the country who has a different perspective.”

    Professionals in the intercultural field are also well-equipped to suggest ways of amplifying conversations about shared values in a country that have served as unifying elements of its social fabric. In the United States, such common themes might be the value of entrepreneurship, respect for frontline workers, caring for veterans, getting along amicably with extended family members during Thanksgiving, or the power of faith in its many forms.

    Rescuing Mark Z.

    It is not just one social media CEO who needs to be rescued, but, in a way, it’s also anyone who checks their media feed daily or hourly in a way reminiscent of Pavlov’s famous psychological experiments. There are of course numerous blessings that come with this technology, and yet it is far too easy to slide toward alienation and “dis-integration” from others whom social media discreetly shifts to a more distant place rather than challenging users with opposing views of the world. Many who habitually work across cultures are now confined to gazing at screens in their own homes; they can still apply their aptitude for bridge-building and constructive integration to the virtual world in front of them, including both those who are seen and those who are hidden from them. 

    [1] Rose, Kevin, “What if Facebook is the Real ‘Silent Majority’?”, The New York Times, August 27, 2020; https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/27/technology/what-if-facebook-is-the-real-silent-majority.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    [2]Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, now co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, says, “We need to move from this disconnected set of grievances and scandals, that these problems are seemingly separate: tech addiction, polarization, outrage-ification of culture, the rise in vanities, micro-celebrity culture, everyone has to be famous. These are not separate problems. They’re actually all coming from one thing, which is the race to capture human attention by tech giants.” Swisher, Kara, “Tech Is About Power. And These Four Moguls Have Too Much of It,” The New York Times, July 23, 2020; 


    [3]Casey, Mary, and Robinson, Shannon Murphy, Neuroscience of Inclusion: New Skills for New Times, p. 86.

    [4] For more information about the CIAO model of Unconscious Bias, see Gundling, Ernest, Inclusive Leadership: From Awareness to Action, Chapter 3.

    [5] See, for example, Zadrozny, Brandy and Ben Collins, “In Klamath Falls, Oregon, victory declared over antifa, which never showed up,” NBC News, June 6, 2020; the article describes how a potentially lethal local confrontation between Black Lives Matter protesters and armed conservatives seeking to protect their town is ignited by false rumors on Facebook and Nextdoor about busloads of marauding antifa, paid by billionaire George Soros;  https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/klamath-falls-oregon-victory-declared-over-antifa-which-never-showed-n1226681

  • 14 Sep 2020 8:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Craig StortiSo far in this space we have reviewed sixteen books and two films[1]. In this issue we stray a bit further (from books, that is) and review an organization: peacecorpsworldwide.org.

    We have chosen to review this entity about the Peace Corps because many SIETAR members are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), and even those who are not will be interested to learn about all the great books written by RPCVs, most of which are inherently cross-cultural. Publicizing those books was the original purpose of this enterprise—when it was still a newsletter—and remains a focus even though it is now a website and has expanded its reach. As John Coyne, the co-founder of the site explains: “About 32 years ago, Marian Haley Beil and I started a newsletter Peace Corps Writers & Readers and then in 2000 shifted to the website. What we do is feature and promote writings by RPCVs as an effort to promote the Third Goal of Peace Corps: to bring the world back home.”

    We will use the interview we conducted with John to tell the story of the site and explain why many of its features should be of interest to readers of this newsletter.

    Can you briefly describe the site; what it consists of, the usual content?

    PeaceCorpsWorldwide.org is for and about Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). The content falls into several categories.

    • Reviews of books—fiction and nonfiction—written by RPCVs.
    • New writing by RPCVs.
    • News about RPCV activities, at home and in their PC countries.
    • General interest articles by RPCVs, republished on our website.
    • Announcements (without reviews) of new books being published by RPCVs.
    • News about Peace Corps itself, as an agency, and the changes and developments in the Peace Corps under each new administration.

    What do you hope the site will accomplish? Why did you start it and why do you continue doing it?

    Our website is an outgrowth of the print newsletter Peace Corps Writers & Readers that Marian Beil and I created in 1989. The purpose of the original newsletter was the same as the purpose of our website: to help carry out the Third Goal of the Peace Corps in order to make all Americans better citizens of the planet. In their writings — memoirs, novels, short stories and poetry —Volunteers bring alive their experiences in the developing world, and reading their writings can help all Americans learn about cultures other than their own.

                Over the years we converted the print newsletter into the current website, in addition to which we have created a Peace Corps Writers imprint, which helps RPCVs to self-publish their books through Amazon. As of now, 96 books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry have been published under this imprint. We also give awards to RPCVs for the best book in various categories published each year.

    What do you think RPCV writers bring to their work/writing that writers who have not been PCVs may not bring to theirs?

    Peace Corps writers bring a profound relationship to people of other cultures, and a very special concern for humanity — the same concern that led them to join Peace Corps in the first place. Peace Corps has always attracted men and women of exceptional intelligence and sensitivity, with a very special sense of adventure. Most expatriates have a sense of adventure too, but they are often led abroad by a desire to escape American civilization or, for that matter, to make money from the labor of others. Life as a Volunteer is very different from the expatriate life. Being part of the Peace Corps takes people far away from embassies, first-class hotels, and the privileges of being rich foreigners in poor countries. PCVs live far from the capital cities, in villages that will likely never see a tourist. Volunteers live the life of the people they serve, and that connection — in all its beauty and all its difficulty — is what they write about.

    You had your own intercultural experience many years ago in Ethiopia. Is there one especially memorable cross-cultural moment/insight you remember?

    Before Peace Corps, I had taught high school for a year in the States while earning my Masters. It was a good school and they were good students, but for those kids, school was just one part of their busy lives, which were filled with sports, dating, movies, et cetera.

    When I got to Ethiopia, in 1962, I was assigned to teach at a select, well-run secondary school with a wonderful reputation, and the students, both girls and boys, came from all ethnic groups and levels of society. I wondered how my students would react to finding that an American was now their teacher. Well, I found out on the very first day when I walked into the classroom and the students all jumped to their feet, out of respect for their teacher. I was from another country and was of another race and barely spoke their language, but because I was their teacher, I deserved their respect. I eventually asked them to stop standing up when I arrived each day, but they politely ignored me. They also showed respect by being well mannered and diligent in class, and totally respectful of each other. This, I came to understand, was because they saw education as the center of their lives. Passing their courses was all that mattered. I would work with students back in the U.S. for several years after Peace Corps, but never again would I see such commitment to the educational process.

    If you could pass on only one insight/one lesson learned to others about crossing cultures, what would you say?

    Different places in the world may look as if they are becoming more and more the same —for example, Starbucks everywhere — but don’t be fooled. Below the surface there are powerful cultural differences — another country’s decision-making process, leadership styles, attitudes toward women, sense of time and space, sometimes even values.

    It's not easy to cross cultures, but the rewards and insights are worth it. At the same time, coming home again, crossing back from another culture to our own, can be a difficult experience, one that people rarely mention. It happens to Volunteers all the time. But they usually think the difficulty is well worth it, for what they’ve learned. 

    This newsletter goes to nearly 1,000 readers, folks who are either in or interested in the field of intercultural communications. If you’d like to say something else to these folks, something we have not asked about in this questionnaire, feel free to add your brief comments here.

    To keep your intercultural communications strong, it helps to reach out to others in your field, to share experiences and methods. Join a local SIETAR group. Reach out through Linked In, word of mouth, the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). You can also get in touch with faculty members at colleges and universities that offer intercultural communications courses.

    And consider volunteering for the Peace Corps.

    [1] Mea culpa: In our most recent column we recommended two film versions of E. M. Forster’s A Room with A View. I just watched the 2007 version again, and I was reminded that the last two scenes are a travesty, something completely invented by the screen writer, and would have appalled Forster. If you watch it, stop after the scene where the newlyweds George and Lucy are kissing in the room with a view. That’s where the book ends—and where any self-respecting film should have.

  • 14 Sep 2020 8:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Have you wanted to get involved with SIETAR USA? Have some writing skills you’d like to use? Any editing experience? Or no experience but you would just like to try it? As President of SIETAR USA and Editor of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA, I know that the time is coming very soon when SIETAR USA will need a new Editor in Chief (that’s me for now). My plan is to find an Assistant Editor to start now and move into the Editorship when it is time for me to move on—which is on the horizon. So, I’m putting the idea forth and would like to talk with you if you are interested. I’ve found this job to be fun. It keeps me in touch with colleagues who have responded very positively to invitations to write opinion columns, send in recipes, offer other items of interest, and you would be in close touch with the Board members who provide reports on their portfolio business. Please give this some consideration and contact me at President@sietarusa.org

  • 14 Sep 2020 8:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SIETAR Local Groups have remained active these past months, many of which have shifted to offering virtual webinars and discussions on a variety of topics related to the current environment. This virtual platform has allowed for much more interconnectivity, not only among other local group members, but also from global SIETAR members. Most webinars are free and open to all.

    SIETAR Tri-State (NY-NJ-CT) has been very active offering monthly webinars such as “The Future of Intercultural Training”, delivered by Nicole Barile, which explored the trends shaping the next generation of intercultural training and where the field is headed. On September 22, Sophie Lechner and Deborah Smith Cook will discuss "Communicating on Multicultural Remote Teams: Is it really so hard?". For details or to join the mailing list please contact sietartristate@gmail.com.

    SIETAR Minnesota has organized virtual events related to the multiple concurrent pandemics. In May, Dr. Deborah Pembleton facilitated a discussion on Robin DiAngelo's book, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to talk About Racism. In August, the local group carried on its tradition of a potluck social event -- but instead of meeting at one of Minnesota's lovely lakes for a concert and group culinary experience, they met on Zoom and shared individual culinary experiences virtually. In September, members will explore the topic How do interculturalists play a role or respond during today's critical times?, facilitated by Cardina Esparza and Amy Rausch. SIETAR Minnesota is also excited about the September launch of a quarterly book club, beginning with A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, a book of locally-authored essays edited by Sun Yung Shin. For details, contact sietar.mn@gmail.com.

    Despite the pandemic, SIETAR DC continues to meet regularly through online events. Using Zoom, they held a virtual gathering aimed at keeping members connected, a social justice panel on the impacts of Covid-19 locally and a discussion of the film "Just Mercy." For the fall, they will continue to offer free virtual events. They are grateful that even in these trying times, the community remains intact and our membership is growing. For details, contact sietardc@gmail.com.

    SIETAR Florida starts off the new season with new leadership as Yuko Deneuville completes her tenure as President of the local group. A special welcome to Curtis Curry who will take over as President and Rachael Assignon who will be the Professional Development Ambassador. Floridian interculturalists have also benefitted from a variety of virtual webinars, such as “The Future of Work Amidst a World of Automation”, “Managing Remotely Starts with Mitigating BIas” and “Avoiding Derailment as a Global Leader” and “Working from Home is No Vacation.” The 2020/21 season will launch with topics such as “Starting an Intercultural Business” and “Greetings Around the World”. For details, contact sietarflorida@gmail.com.

    Interested in starting a local group in your area? Please contact Julia Gaspar-Bates, Local Groups Director at localgroups@sietarusa.org.

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