Like to submit an article to the SIETAR USA periodical? If so, click here to see the guidelines. 

  • 15 Jun 2020 6:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    November. Shifting Paradigms Using Cultural Assets in Ensley:  The developmental webinar for November features Bettina Byrd-Giles, Interculturalist, Health Equity Expert and Community Change Agent.  She will share with us her real world application of interculturalism and DEI concepts and principles in changing the culture of a local community in the Birmingham, AL area.  As CEO of the local health care center Bettina partnered with local artists and business people to re-brand and rejuvenate the community using intercultural techniques and storytelling especially highlighting the local jazz heritage. Her projects often combine her health care expertise and cultural competence development such as a program for data collectors in the University of Alabama hospital system to improve their interviewing skill through increased cultural competence.  This program incorporated the IDI.  Bettina’s international interests starting with her BA in international relations from the University of Virginia include active participation in Birmingham’s Sister Cities program.  Additionally, she founded Diversity University, a cross-cultural program involving six colleges and universities. 

    December: In December we will immerse ourselves in art and how to use art as a tool for cultural understanding and dialogue with Fanchon Silberstein, author of Art inSight:  Understanding Art and Why It Matters.  (See book review and interview in the February newsletter.)   This webinar provides us the advantage of going with Fanchon deeper into pieces of art featured in her book and enhancing our cultural competence through learning to dialogue with the artist and the piece of art itself.  The insights in the book are the culmination of living outside of the US as a foreign service spouse, serving as a member of the faculty of SIIC and decades as a docent at the Smithsonian’s Hirschhorn Gallery.   Fanchon might even share her writing process and the process for finding a publisher—hint:  it requires tons of tenacity.    

  • 15 Jun 2020 6:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Antimo Cimino

    Anna’s Lasagna (Serves 4)

    Anna is my mother (next month she turns 80)


    If you know some southern Italians or you have lived in the south of Italy, you know for sure that food and family are everything for us. Can you guess what is the first thing a southern Italian mother will ask you when she knows you are visiting? What would you like to eat?

    I have been living in the USA for now 25 years, and when I go home to visit my parents, my mother gives me a lengthy choice of all the seasonal dishes she plans to make me. Lasagna is on the menu on Sunday for sure like when I grew up.

    There are so many dishes I could have chosen to share with you but Lasagna is the best, and here is why. When I was a teenager, my aunts and my grandmother would get together on Saturday to prepare a Sunday feast at the beach. You see my mother’s sister married my father’s brother so we spent a lot of time together. 

    My aunts and their mom (my grandma) would make the lasagna sheet from scratch. My grandmother and I would make the sauces. I was in charge of stirring the béchamel, often being scolded to not reverse the stirring motion (Oh no no, you can’t do that or it will split). It truly was a family affair from cooking to enjoying the meal together. The food, baked for 10-12 people, would go from the oven onto the truck and off we drove 15 minutes to the beach.

    Of course, during the 4-5 hours of preparation incredible stories were shared, so the kitchen was the place to be if you were curious like me. My brother instead, was too busy or didn’t think that a man should be in the kitchen, that was a woman’s role, obviously I could have cared less.

    You see, lasagna for me isn’t just an Italian dish, it is nourishment of the soul, each bite tells a story and it brings back memories.

    Main ingredients:

    4-6 cups Bolognese Sauce, 3 cups béchamel sauce, thin sliced ham, parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, ripe roma tomatoes, dry oregano, oven ready lasagna sheets (Best at Trader Joe’s).

    Bolognese Sauce: - Ingredients

    1 can chopped tomatoes (1lb)

    1 can of tomato sauce

    1 lb of ground pork

    1 lb of ground beef

    1 glass of red wine

    2-3 carrots

    1 onion

    2-3 stalks of celery

    3 oz olive oil


    Chop or mince the onion and join in a saucepan with the olive oil. Chop or mince carrots and the celery as well. Join then to the light brown onions. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. Add the ground pork and beef and allow it to brown before you add the red wine and let it evaporate (5-10 minutes). Time to add the canned chopped tomatoes, with 5-6 leaves of fresh basil, and some salt. Cook for about 15 minutes before adding the tomato sauce. Rinse both cans with half glass of water and add it to the sauce. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 2 hours, stirring often to prevent sticking.

    Béchamel Sauce – Ingredients

     5-6 tbsp butter

    2-3 spoons of flour

    3 cups of milk

    1 teaspoon of nutmeg


    Melt the butter, take it off the heat and start sprinkling the flour over it, with a tablespoon stir to a nice creamy consistency by adding—very slowly—some of the milk. Make sure you are not making any lumps. Once you have incorporated all the milk, add some salt and the nutmeg.

    Put back on the stove at medium high heat stirring continuously in one direction. Over the next 15-20 minutes it will start to thicken. Turn off the heat and set to the side to cool off.

    This can be done just 15 minutes before you start assembling your lasagna.

    Assembling the Lasagna

    In a square, tall pyrex or aluminum dish, add a ladle of Bolognese sauce with a ladle of hot water. Cover the bottom with a layer of lasagna sheets. Add a ladle of béchamel making sure that it is evenly spread over the lasagna sheets. Add a layer of ham, a handful of parmesan cheese, some fresh leaves of basil, a ladle or two of Bolognese sauce, and a hand full of shredded mozzarella. Continue layering the same way till you reach the top of the dish.

    Add a layer of Bolognese sauce on the top and another ladle of hot water. Finish with thick sliced roma tomatoes sprinkled with salt and dry oregano.

    Bake into a 380-degree oven for 1 hour.

  • 13 Jun 2020 11:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We recently discovered that when people write comments, they go to the blog but not to the editor—who has now returned to the 2020 issues and sifted through to find the comments that are listed below. Another discovery was that when commenters do not add their names to their comments, they show up as Anonymous. Thank you everyone who has taken the time to write us. Your comments are much appreciated!

    Recipe of the Month: Salted Duck Eggs by Esther Louie

    15 May 2020 12:07 PM | Recipe of the Month: Salted Duck Eggs by Esther Louie.  Chris Cartwright wrote:

    Wonderful story & intriguing recipe page! Thanx for the new resource!

    Craig Storti: Time Out

    15 May 2020 1:53 PM | Marcella Simon wrote:

    Thank you for these insightful thoughts Craig! I have read countless academic articles with models of cultural competence and intelligence. I have also observed through teaching and spending time in different cultural contexts that some people are just naturally more comfortable and astute working and living across cultures, no matter what their background or training. So what can we teach? If people are open to it (and some are not) framing their observations and experiences using a model (Context, Iceberg) can be very useful. Also, some of your excellent exercises I have employed (Observation/Interpretation for one) have sparked a note of recognition in those who have had those types of encounters. I have even seen "aha" moments from playing Barnga with a group during the debrief. So I don't believe one can learn "cultural competence" like one learns to play the piano or code software. However, a good teacher can encourage someone to continue down the path of exploration they may have already begun with new tools at their disposal. 

    18 May 2020 8:15 PM | Carolyn Ryffel wrote:

    This is a great conversation to get started, Craig. There are many entry points so I’ll start with competency in general and “comfortable.”

    “Comfortable” really doesn’t fit with competency development, intercultural or otherwise. The knowledge, skills and attitude (attributes in some schema) that make up a competency are not static but evolve as a person’s environment changes. Sometimes competency development can even require unlearning behaviors (or at least diminishing importance), behaviors that made us very successful and now don’t, taking us into a transformational growth area which is a very messy and uncomfortable place to be. A place of ambiguity, uncertainly and hopefully curiosity where we don’t always recognize ourselves: “Who am I?” What happened to that friendly, trusted and trusting person that I used to be?” “Why isn’t this behavior working?” (Intercultural Competency: Self-Awareness)

    Getting out of this messy, uncomfortable place isn’t mitigated by increasing knowledge and skills (horizontal development) but by transformational growth (vertical development), the result of “crucible” experiences (Osland), experiences that it is our responsibility to properly debrief and process.

    So, back to the original question “Can we teach this stuff?” Yes, and we also facilitate and coach our way to providing Intercultural Competency development. We do this by utilizing activities or methods to provide experiences, debrief and process those experiences or others brought by our “students”, normalize their discomfort and support them in the messiness of their development of Intercultural Competence. It’s a process that takes time and usually not enough time with us. Therefore we have to plan carefully and use our shared time wisely to nurture the growth possible and leave our “students” in a safe but energized space for their ongoing development. AND we ourselves have to get comfortable with the discomfort of our own growth. (another topic for another day)

    Now to “competency”: Currently in the Learning and Performance / Talent Development field there has been a shift from Competencies to Capabilities and many corporations are establishing Capability Academies. Some of the rationale is what I would call “wordsmithing” but there is a notable emphasis on “digital” and on capabilities that directly link to the business success of an organization.

    Here is how ATD (Association of Talent Development) explains their shift: Competence has become a somewhat outdated and passive term. It refers to a person's current state and to them having the knowledge and skills necessary to perform a job. Capability is about integrating knowledge and skills and adapting and flexing to meet future needs.

    Who knew?! SIETAR’s work has always been about “integrating,” “adapting,” and “flexing.” Seems to me that makes SIETAR a “Capability Thought-Leader” --from its beginning focused on developing Intercultural Competency.

    March Bookmarks: Global Dexterity by Andy Molinsky   

    Carolyn Ryffel wrote:

    Global Dexterity has been my go-to resource since I discovered it about a year after publication. Recent work took me back into it in more depth and I was again reminded about how practical and down-to-earth Molinsky is in talking to the reader and anticipating their situation. The format of the book is as a workbook and as Craig characterizes it, an action plan, and the reader is more in an environment of being coached.

    Although Molinsky introduces six dimensions, his process has the "coachee" choose 2-3 that seem most impactful of the situation. That allows for sharper focus and in Molinsky's ever practical approach diminishes feeling overwhelmed. The key is to identity and then try small steps which as with all behavior change doesn't have to be 100% to be effective. Up to this point his process is mostly cognitive.

    Therefore, one enhancement to Molinsky's Four Phase Process that I use is to add a Centering Practice, even just a one-breath pause, that grounds the "coachee" in the present. Also, Molinsky's advice to assess how the new behavior "feels" in the rehearsal stages needs to be brought more into the body--identify where in the body the feeling resides, tap into the discomfort, sit with it and use it as a tool for staying with the practice. (The same works for positive emotions.) Becoming comfortable with the discomfort requires a somatic awareness to build on the cognitive. This follows a core tenet of somatic coaching that "the body always wins" and building on somatic awareness is as important as cognitive knowledge.

    I can't recommend Global Dexterity highly enough and was absolutely delighted in my recent immersion to find it as practical, fresh and compelling as always.

    February Bookmarks: Art inSight: Understanding Art and Why It Matters by Fanchon Silberstein.  Sandy Fowler wrote:

    Fanchon is my friend too and I think you did a beautiful job of capturing both what she has to say and what the book offers to interculturalists (and the world). The genesis of the book was based on SIIC workshops that she and I did for several years in Forest Grove for SIIC. But Fanchon took the concepts much further than we did in the workshop. I hope that some of the people who took that workshop will take the opportunity to read the book. Even without the workshop, the book is amazing!

  • 13 Jun 2020 10:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    June 15, 2020 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Are You Having Fun Online?” with Lies Wouters. Visit SIETAR Europa June Webinar to register!

    June 17, 2020 – SIETAR USA Member Virtual Town Hall: Hosted by Kelli McLoud-Schingen, President of KMS Intercultural Consulting, and Justin Sitron, Associate Professor/Dean in the School of Human Service Professions at Widener University. Visit SIETAR USA Virtual Town Hall to register.

    June 25, 2020 – SIETAR USA WEBINAR: “Tight Versus Loose: A Key to Unlocking Our Cultural Divides” with Michele Gelfand, Professor of Psychology, University of Maryland. Visit SIETAR USA June Webinar to register!

    October 9-11, 2020 – SIETAR USA National Conference: SIETAR USA is going Virtual! The CFP deadline is June 15, 2020, and plans are underway. Stay tuned for more details!


    Pride FlagJune is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on the world. LGBT groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings. The last Sunday in June is Gay Pride Day.

    June 15: Native American Citizenship Day, commemorating the day in 1924 when the U.S. Congress passed legislation recognizing the citizenship of Native Americans.

    JuneteenthJune 19: Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. It is observed as a public holiday in 14 U.S. states. This celebration honors the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas and Louisiana finally heard they were free, two months after the end of the Civil War. June 19, therefore, became the day of emancipation for thousands of African-Americans.

    June 21: National Indigenous Peoples Day or First Nations Day, a day that gives recognition to the indigenous populations affected by colonization in Canada.

    Last Sunday in June: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Day in the United States. It celebrates the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969.


    Happy Canada DayJuly 1: Canada Day, or Fête du Canada, is a Canadian federal holiday that celebrates the 1867 enactment of the Constitution Act, which established the three former British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as a united nation called Canada.

    ConstitutionJuly 4: Independence Day (also known as the Fourth of July), a United States federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The original 13 American colonies declared independence from Britain and established themselves as a new nation known as the United States of America.

    July 11: World Population Day, an observance established in 1989 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme. The annual event is designed to raise awareness of global population issues.

    July 14: Bastille Day, a French federal holiday that commemorates the Storming of the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris that held political prisoners who had displeased the French nobility. The Storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789, was regarded as a turning point of the French Revolution. Celebrations are held throughout France.

    Nelson Mandela DayJuly 18: Nelson Mandela International Day, launched on July 18, 2009, in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday via unanimous decision of the U.N. General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices: “It is in your hands now”. It is more than a celebration of Mandela’s life and legacy; it is a global movement to honor his life’s work and to change the world for the better.


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

  • 08 Jun 2020 3:23 PM | Karen Fouts (Administrator)

    Recognizing that this could be a very long list, we would like to bring into the room, the name of George Floyd. In the strongest possible terms, SIETAR USA:

    • Believes Black Lives Matter
    • Condemns police violence
    • Supports peaceful protest
    • Values authentic and honest dialog

    Racial injustice is embedded into U.S. culture and there is no single solution that will take care of everything that needs to be changed and improved. We need to begin by eliminating racism in our own SIETAR USA house. We need to listen to each other—in a learning mode—and be willing to explore ways we can make effective changes. The culture of whiteness is one that reinforces and invests in politeness, often discouraging conversations about racism, politics, and religion, allowing an “agree to disagree” mentality to persist. We are seeing very bluntly the outcomes of white communities refusing to work to eradicate racism among us so that we can avoid the brutal outcomes of ignorance, avoidance, and a pervasive inaction when it comes to racism.  Among other things that approach favors white comfort over the suffering of Black and Brown people.

    SIETAR USA started as a pale organization and because of a commitment to diversity and diligent effort, that has changed over the years, but the issue is not in numbers or percentages. White privilege can be subtle and difficult to recognize, to own, and especially hard to give up. We need to ensure that we have a culture in which we can have ongoing difficult dialogs, where everyone’s voice is heard, and where we maintain a standard that racism in any form, including micro-aggressive racism, is not accepted.

    Earlier this year, the SIETAR USA board began a process of an in-depth examination of what SIETAR USA stands for and how we confront racism in our organization. The process requires us as an association of professionals in the field of global inclusion and intercultural relations to have difficult conversations, but most importantly to take action to rectify wrongs. As an association we haven’t always gotten it right, but we invite all of you to stay at the table to continue learning and listening so that we can transform our organization to be a pillar of the field that we know it can be. We start by offering this statement which will only be trusted if it is followed by strong action of all our members.   

    The SIETAR USA Leadership is committed to being anti-racist and to taking a stand against injustice where we find it, inside or outside of SIETAR USA. But action requires all of us, so that we can fully include and support our colleagues of color and every individual who comprise the SIETAR community. We need to work together to make much needed progress in our association and in our nation.

  • 14 May 2020 2:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The BIG NEWS for the month of May is that the SIETAR USA national conference is going virtual. Our in-person conference scheduled for October in Omaha will indeed take place, but in 2021. The 2020 October event Moving Ahead: Learning from the Global Crisis, will be virtual. All the details known at this time (and some of the decisions we are working on) can be found in the Conference Connections column. Be sure to check it out and consider joining us for our first-ever virtual conference.

    This issue has some good reading—provocative ideas (see Craig Storti), profound personal reflections (Joel Brown), a recipe (Esther Louie), some Zoom talk, webinar announcements, our monthly calendar of events, a position description for the only vacancy on the Board: Professional Development Director.

    I had in mind when I started The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA that it might start a dialog. We do occasionally get letters to the editor, but this hasn’t been as interactive as expected. Please know that your comments are welcome and some will be published and become part of the archives. When people in the future ask what was happening in SIETAR USA before, during, and after the pandemic, your comments will help fill out the picture. The authors of the articles appreciate hearing from you also.

    It occurred to me that in many ways, intercultural and inclusion practitioners can serve as a bridge preparing for the aftermath of the corona virus epidemic. Due to our backgrounds and experience, we can help people develop a resilience roadmap to help them through the transition period. We all need the resilience and adaptation skills to meet the challenges we are facing. For example, we know about connectedness and how important it is to people who are in transition. Not all of us are mourning the loss of a loved one but collectively and individually we are mourning bygone lives. What have we lost? Predictability, control, justice, the belief that we can protect ourselves and loved ones from an outside threat. We have lost some of the anchors of our lives: places that bring us comfort, work and projects that add excitement (and remuneration), routines that helped us through our days and weeks. The transition to the next chapter requires the functional adaptability and recovery skills we know something about.

    We also know the importance of emotional support in tough times. Sometimes it is enough just to know that there is someone there who will listen, who can clear up confusion, can help us understand when miscommunication causes pain. The ethical issue is however, to recognize when people need help that we are not trained to give. That’s when we should be prepared to provide resources that folks can turn to instead of floundering.

    The crisis is here, it is global, it is not going away soon. We can embrace it or retreat from it. Winston Churchill did not say it, but he should have: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” That, of course, is a modification of the United Negro College Fund’s slogan: “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” The key is to use this crisis to think about the world we need and want and work toward that. Plan to join us at our first-ever virtual conference to share your experiences and what you have learned, as well as learning from others as we move forward together.

    Sandra M. Fowler
    SIETAR USA President

  • 14 May 2020 2:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Karen Lokkesmoe, Conference Oversight Director

    As noted in the article from SUSA President Sandy Fowler, the SIETAR 2020 Conference will be a virtual conference and our planned conference Mind, Culture, Society will take place in Omaha in 2021. Although we will deeply miss seeing and personally interacting with all of you in October this year, we do look forward to welcoming you to join us in this exciting new opportunity. Here’s what we know about how that is taking shape as well as a few things we are still working out.

    Date: The v-Conference will still take place during the first full week of October, 2020. The exact dates and length of the conference is still being determined.

    Theme: As we all strive to adjust and accommodate a new and changing world in our current state of crisis we felt it important to address both the reality of the pandemic as well as highlight what we as intercultural and DEI professionals bring to the table. We have therefore selected the theme of this year’s conference to be: Moving Forward: Learning from the Global Crisis.

    Session Formats: The formats for sessions will be similar to past conferences and will be detailed in the revised CFP, which should be open for accepting submissions by next week. The sessions will likely be a combination of pre-recorded and live virtual sessions. As we strive to accommodate the broadest range of colleagues throughout the US and the world, we are exploring the best possible options for doing that effectively.

    Number of Sessions: There will most likely be fewer sessions offered in this new v-Conference format than we typically offer. Our commitment is to keep the quality, relevance, and access high.

    Technology: The conference will be held using a virtual meeting format that allows for multiple ways of connecting, presenting, interacting. Guidance and tutorials for how to present virtually as well how to use the specific conferencing format will be made available as soon as possible.

    Cost: We have not yet finalized the cost for the v-Conference, though we do know that it will be lower than the cost of our typical conferences as we wish to make this accessible to as many people as possible. We will advise you as soon as registration is open.

    Networking and Connecting with Colleagues: We are still exploring ways to include networking options as we know this is a vital aspect of SIETAR USA and our conferences and is as important to us as it is to you. Suggestions for v-networking options can be sent to info@sietarusa.org.

    Questions regarding the proposal process can be directed to program chairs Kwesi Ewoodzie and Wandi Steward at conferenceproposals@sietarusa.org.

    We invite you all to reflect on what you are experiencing during this global pandemic and how you can share strategies and examples that we as interculturalists and DEI professionals can offer. How can we utilize this time of crisis to learn and to influence others to not only survive, but to make our world better.

    Watch for the new CFP on the website and please submit your proposals as soon as possible.

  • 14 May 2020 2:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Mieke was one of the creators and founders of SIETAR Europa and the first President of SIETAR Europa. Mieke was the tireless lead administrator of SIETAR Europa during its first formative years in Haarlem, NL. At the same time, she was Executive Vice President of SIETAR International and for a long time member of the Governing Council of SIETAR International.

    A true pillar of the organisation.

    She was an inspiration for many Sietarians and other people working in the intercultural field. She was an inspiring and respected lecturer and coach for many children living in Otherland’. Author of the ‘Anderland’ books for children and adults in Dutch, and the English editions: 'Off to Otherland: A read-and-do book for children going to live abroad’, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 'Unlocking the secret of Otherland: A story and activity book for children living abroad'. Amsterdam 2006.

    Mieke was honorary member of SIETAR Europa and honorary member of SIETAR Nl. She received the SIETAR International Senior Interculturalist Award and she was also the well-deserved recipient of the SIETAR Europa Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

    SIETAR Europa is indebted to Mieke’s unfaltering wisdom, energy and dedication.

    In lieu of condolences, Mieke’s family is interested in receiving personal memories or wishes.

    In order not to publish the family address, contact either Susan Vonsild (smv@interlink.dk) or Francien Wieringa (f.i.wieringa@gmail.com) and they will give you the correct address.

  • 14 May 2020 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For some 15 months now here at BookMarks we’ve been reviewing books right and left (and one movie)—as is only proper. But this month we’re taking a short break to offer the following article by your editor. I was recently invited by Darla Deardorff, who has just gotten the Council on Intercultural and Global Competence (profiled elsewhere in this issue) off the ground, to write a column for that organization’s newsletter . After I wrote the article, I thought it would also be of interest to this newsletter’s audience, and with Sandy and Darla’s permission, we are running it here in place of a review. Not to worry, though, next month the books will be back.

    Can We Really Teach This Stuff?
    by Craig Storti

    Dr. Darla Deardorff made a very simple request in her email to me about this column—or so I thought: “Send in something related to intercultural competence.” Fair enough. No problem. But there was a problem, a big one:

    What the heck is intercultural competence?

    If you’re going to write about this thing, then you’d better have a pretty good idea what it is. And I really didn’t. So I began thinking. And that’s where all the trouble started. What metric should I use to come up with a definition? In the end I decided that the best, or at least one of the most practical, ways to describe the concept was in terms of what would distinguish someone who was interculturally competent from someone who wasn’t? And that wasn’t so hard. I settled on this: An interculturally competent individual is a person who can interact easily and comfortably with someone from a very different background than his or hers. I had thought maybe I should use the word “effectively,” but it’s a bit vague and besides: if you’re comfortable during the interaction, it’s bound to be effective.

    But my definition only led me to another question: What kind of person is it who can do that, who can interact easily and comfortably with people who are very different from him or her? What are the qualities of such a person? All the usual adjectives came to mind: someone who is open-minded, sensitive, tolerant, nonjudgmental, sympathetic. But these qualities seemed to me to be a subset of something even more basic that would define such a person. So then I started thinking about that. And I ended up here: Individuals who can interact comfortably and easily with people from a very different background are people who are fundamentally at ease and comfortable with who they are.

    My thinking here goes like this: People who are comfortable with who they are, who are aware of and accepting of their strengths and especially of their weaknesses—people who have accepted themselves—are the only people who can really accept others. Only if you are comfortable with who you are, can you be truly comfortable with who someone else is, no matter how different they may be from you.

    But then someone might point out: I know people who are intolerant, closed-minded, and judgmental—and are quite comfortable being that way, thanks very much.

    Nice try, but no cigar. Intolerant, closed-minded, judgmental individuals are annoyed by what they do not tolerate, threatened by what they are closed to, angry by what they judge as bad or wrong. Annoyed, threatened, angry people cannot be comfortable.

    Let’s say you’re more or less with me so far, sort of accepting that people who are comfortable with themselves have the best shot at being interculturally competent. That opens the door to two potentially uncomfortable truths (for us intercultural types, that is); that people with no knowledge whatsoever of the intercultural field and its core concepts can nevertheless be very interculturally competent; and that people with deep experience in and knowledge of the field, unless they also happen to be comfortable with who they are, may not be competent at all. And who among us, if you’re being honest, has not come across numerous examples of both types: people with no particular intercultural expertise who are just naturally good at interacting across cultures, and intercultural experts who aren't all that comfortable in the presence of real difference?

    Which leads me to one last musing: If all the above is even just a little bit true, then where does that leave people like us—trainers, teachers, researchers, academics—the people working to support and advance the cause of intercultural competence? If you agree that being comfortable with yourself is a core component of that competence, and if you accept further that that quality can’t really be taught, then what is our role?

    I’m not suggesting we don’t have any real role, I’m just rocking the boat, hoping with this inaugural column of the Council newsletter that we can start a dialogue on what intercultural competence is and where the efforts and dedication of the professionals in the field can best be put to use.

  • 14 May 2020 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Esther Louie

    The joong were made once during the year and as a kid, I would always look forward to this annual celebration.  My mom and dad would start the preparations at least weeks ahead, gathering all the ingredients, bringing the duck eggs, and salting the pork belly. They would make dozens and dozens of joong or "Chinese tamales".   And finally, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month would be the special day, now more popularly know as the dragon boat festival day. My mom celebrated the Qu Yuan (340-278 BC) a patriotic poet who was exiled in ancient China.  The story she told of him drowning himself on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month, and making these joong wrapped in bamboo leaves were floated on the river to help feed him and to honor him.  My folks would make many joong for our family and enough to give away to my grandfather, uncles and others as we made our round of visits to family and friends.  I always thought my mom's was the best tasting and the biggest joongs!

    I finally decided to make them myself and found many available recipes - many mirroring those of my mom's, and many with variations of the ingredients.  I found out that the Toisan style which was ubiquitous in San Francisco's Chinatown made sense as many of the immigrants were from that part of China in those early years.

    P.S.  This year's Dragon Boat Festival date is:  June 25, 2020; China 's official holiday dates, June 25-27


    And this is the full recipe for how I plan to use the salted duck eggs:


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