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  • 14 Jan 2021 12:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On January 18th, the United States celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday recognizing the and celebrating of the Civil Right leader’s work, life, and legacy. Also known as MLK Day and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this federal holiday falls on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. However, this federal holiday differs from others because it is “a day on, not a day off” and is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all U.S. Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. (“MLK Day of Service”, 2021) It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing.

    As we enter 2021, the significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is even more palatable. Born in 1929, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was dedicated to his faith, his family, his community, his country, and the Civil Rights movements. He attained his Doctorate in Theology and became a Baptist Minister renowned for his simple yet powerful oratories. The eloquence and sentiments of his written and spoken words echoed the desire of so many and have become near universal beliefs. (“Significance of Martin Luther King Day”, 2021)

    Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates the life and legacy of a man who sowed the seeds of hope and healing in the United States. We remember his contributions as America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but also led a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality. Through his words and actions, he taught timeless values such as courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility, and service. These values defined his character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit. (“Significance of Martin Luther King Day”, 2021)

    This day also commemorates Rev. Dr. King’s great dream was of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace, and reconciliation. He hoped and prayed for a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. On this day, we are called to volunteer and celebrate the values of equality, tolerance, and interracial unity that he expressed in his great dream for America. (“Significance of Martin Luther King Day”, 2021)

    No other day of the year brings so many people from diverse cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of togetherness. No matter one’s ethnic, racial, or cultural background, everyone is part of the great dream that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nurtured for America. It is a peoples' holiday and everyone is encouraged to celebrate by connecting with others and practicing the shared cultural values of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (“Significance of Martin Luther King Day”, 2021)

    Written by: Emily Kawasaki

    Works Cited

  • 14 Jan 2021 12:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    January 19, 2021 – SIETAR Europea WEBINAR: “Extending the paradigm: From Diversity & Inclusion to Belonging & Wellbeing” with Vincent Merk. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/sietar-global-events/ to register!

    January 27, 2021 –SIETAR TRI-STATE NY-NJ-CT WEBINAR: “Embedding Intercultural Fluency Training in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Transformation” with Nitin Deckha PhD, CTDP, MCATD. Visit https://lnkd.in/dNSNhyn to register!

    February 3, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR“Storytelling & Anti-Racism: There are two sides to every story experience” with Christine Taylor. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/sietar-global-events/ to register!

    February 10, 2021 – SIETAR USA WEBINAR“Evolution of Change: From revolutionary to DEI interculturalist" with Elmer Dixon. Visit https://www.sietarusa.org/event-4116382 to register!

    February 12, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Lost in connection? What differentiates a great virtual-space-leader from a great physical-office-leader?” with Nina Dziatzko and Barbara Covarrubias Venegas. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/sietar-global-events/ to register!

    February 16, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Modern Russia: Destroying Myths and Stereotypes” with Marina Dzhashi. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/sietar-global-events/ to register!


    World Braille DayJanuary is National Braille Literacy Month, which recognizes and honors the legally blind and visually impaired. The mission of this month is to raise awareness of the importance of Braille to the blind and visually impaired community. The month of January was chosen to honor Louis Braille, who was born on January 4th, 1809.

    January 13: Korean American Day is a holiday observed on January 13th that commemorates the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States in 1903. The holiday was established in 2003 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Korean Immigrants.

    January 14: Thai Pongal, celebrated in India and Sri Lanka, is a harvest festival that occurs between the last day of Margazhi and the third month of Thai in the Tamil calendar. It is one of the few Hindu holidays that is based on a solar calendar instead of a lunar one. That’s because its celebration is to venerate and show appreciation to the Sun God for a bountiful harvest.

    January 17: World Religions Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in January. It was established by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States in 1950 to encourage interfaith understanding.

    MLK DayJanuary 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorates the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and an activist for nonviolent social change until his assassination in 1968.

    January 25-26: Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, a time of renewal through sacred and secular practices.

    January 26: Australia Day is the official national holiday of Australia.

    Holocaust Day of Commemoration January 27: The International Day of Commemoration to remember the victims of the Holocaust. The anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945 and U.N. Holocaust Memorial Day.

    January 27-28 (sundown to sundown): Tu B’shevat, a Jewish holiday recognizing “The New Year of the Trees.” It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. In Israel, the flowering of the almond tree usually coincides with this holiday, which is observed by planting trees and eating dried fruits and nuts.

    January 28: Thaipusam or Thaipoosam, is a festival celebrated by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai, usually coinciding with Pushya star, known as Poosam in Tamil.


    African American History Month February is African American History Month in the United States and Canada. Since 1976, the month has been designated to remember the contributions of people of the African diaspora.

    February 1: National Freedom Day, which celebrates the signing of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1865.

    February 2: Candlemas – A Christian holiday that celebrates three occasions according to Christian belief: the presentation of the child Jesus; Jesus’ first entry into the temple; and Virgin Mary’s purification.

    February 2: Setsubun-Sai (Beginning of Spring), the day before the beginning of spring in Japan, celebrated yearly as part of the Spring Festival.

    February 3: Four Chaplains Sunday commemorates the 55th anniversary of the sinking of the United States army transport Dorchester and the heroism of the four chaplains aboard.

    February 6: Waitangi Day is a public holiday in New Zealand that celebrates the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The Maori celebrate by taking part a variety of cultural traditions. For some people, the holiday is the opportunity to reflect on the treaty and its historical impact and long-term effects.

    February 11: National Foundation Day is a national holiday in Japan. The holiday serves a dual purpose in the country. It celebrates the creation of Japan as well as the creation of the imperial line and the ascension of the first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu. It has been celebrated for many years throughout Japan’s history, although its name has changed over those years.

    February 12: Lunar New Year, one of the most sacred of all traditional Chinese holidays, a time of family reunion and celebration. The Lunar New Year is also celebrated at this time in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Mongolia.

    February 14: St. Valentine’s Day, a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus. Typically associated with romantic love and celebrated by people expressing their love via gifts.

    February 15: Parinirvana Day (or Nirvana Day), the commemoration of Buddha’s death at the age of 80, when he reached the zenith of Nirvana. February 8 is an alternative date of observance.

    February 16: Vasant Panchami, the Hindu festival that highlights the coming of spring. On this day Hindus worship Saraswati Devi, the goddess of wisdom, knowledge, music, art, and culture.

    February 21: International Mother Language Day is a global holiday that celebrates and honors diversity in the languages of the world and to promote cultural and linguistic diversity. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the holiday in 1999.

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

  • 14 Jan 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Write to usThe SIETAR USA Newsletter “The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA” encourages letters to the Editor. Please know that your comments are welcome and some will be published and become part of the archives.

    This is your invitation to be part of this exciting virtual community of interculturalists. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to truly connect with other members through thoughtful and considered interaction.

    Please submit your contributions to the SIETAR USA Editorial and Communications team at editor@sietarusa.org.

  • 11 Jan 2021 3:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Friends and Colleagues of SIETAR in the USA and around the World:

    Terrorism is defined in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).

    Drawing on this clear and concise definition, we call the mob action against the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 exactly what it was: domestic terrorism against U.S. government officials performing their duties in the center of U.S. government. The fact that it was instigated and encouraged by elected public servants at the highest levels within the government is a serious and profound source of concern, especially in light of those who actively took part.

    On behalf of SIETAR USA, its Officers, Board of Directors, and Advisory Council, we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the violent, criminal, and seditious acts perpetrated by these anti-democratic, anti-republican, xenophobic, racist, and un-American individuals and groups.

    The FBI is seeking to identify individuals who took part in this insurrection in Washington D.C. They are accepting tips and digital media depicting rioting and violence in and around the U.S. Capitol on January 6. If you have any information, you are strongly encouraged to visit fbi.gov/USCapitol.

    To our continued efforts to combat hatred and facilitate communication and respect—our work is more important now than ever. Together, we will grow stronger. Join us.

    Brett D. Parry, President


  • 14 Dec 2020 9:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sandra M. FowlerPresident SIETAR USA

    It was 10 years ago this month when my beloved husband suffered a massive stroke that took away his ability to speak, write, or use a computer. The ensuing 4+ years was a daily lesson in the importance of language for our ability to communicate. Of course, as we interculturalists know well, there are some non-verbal alternatives, but nuance and complications are lost. Those years were also a lesson in humility. Despite all the work that the speech therapists and I did, his brain was too injured to be able to regain any real semblance of communication.

    As I think back on that time, I am saddened to realize the extent to which I was in denial. I just couldn’t accept that this had happened, nothing was helping, and many days it made me cross. So, I tried to focus on quality of life issues. We took little trips, went to movies, walked every day and the like. They were palliative, but what was missing was my ability to deal directly with what had happened thus, to help him with it as well.

    What does this have to do with what is happening today? For me, the lesson is that I need to deal with the pandemic, not by denying its reality or how devastating or disruptive it is. “Cope and move on” sounds good but not easy to do (now or then). I miss giving hugs to my kids and grandkids, and I need to let them know that I feel that way. I miss spending time in person with family and friends. That needs to be conveyed too. We all hope that vaccinations will make a difference—hold onto that hope. In the meantime, keep communicating through video calls, cell phone, whatever means you have at your disposal to safely stay in touch with people who are important to you. We are communicators—so do it!

    This issue of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA is full of celebrations. It is a veritable feast of celebrations. When you read what Emily Kawasaki has written about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Festivus (for the rest of us) we hope that you will learn more than you knew before—it’s our gift to you. After all, the holiday season is about the importance of festivity in many forms. I suggest that you learn about Moritz Thomsen in Craig Storti’s BookMarks review. Be sure to read to the end so that you get to Mark Walker’s Reconsider List for a good chuckle. Patricia Coleman’s article reprises her ideas from her closing keynote speech at the end of the SIETAR USA virtual conference. Her thoughts are an inspiration and cheer. 

    Interested in cookies? Read Karen Lokkesmoe’s recipe. She brings her Norwegian heritage to her baking and to her new husband who she married in Norway in October. We say hail and farewell to two women as we welcome Dr. Michele Hanna as the new Leadership Development Director on the Board of Directors and say goodbye to her predecessor Katarina Salas-Natchova. The Board is a dynamic group of individuals who have bonded to make SIETAR USA a better place for everyone. We are excited to print Marcella Simon Peralta’s Letter to the Editor. Let’s keep that conversation going! As always, we let you know about the next month’s webinar, which in January will be Gigi de Groot from Sweden revealing what she knows about virtual teams. We also provide our Upcoming Events list where you can check what other SIETARs are doing and what is happening in the world in the next month. 

    This is my last Perspective article that I write as President of SIETAR USA. It has been an honor and privilege to serve you the past two years and I must admit that it has been a total joy! There were a few rough spots, but with help from the entire Board and our wonderful Admin Officer, Karen Fouts, I got through them and the Society is all the stronger for that. I have the entire Board and Membership to thank for the renewed interest in SIETAR USA. The best advertisement for our Society is you! Our incoming President, Brett Parry, has confirmed that he would like me to continue as the Newsletter Editor during my year as Immediate Past President—you’ll be hearing from me!

    Warm wishes for the holidays and the New Year!

    Sandra M. Fowler

  • 14 Dec 2020 8:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Patricia Malidor Coleman for The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA

    Let's keep "Moving ahead, learning from the global pandemic, Globalisciously® Stretching into Change." Since October 2020, a lot has happened, yet the year has gone by very fast and we are in December, getting ready for the year 2021. After a timely, first-ever, successful, virtual conference, SIETAR USA and the professional community of interculturalists, and D.E.I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) practitioners are embracing a global culture shock which they now realize they are equipped for with their own personal and professional experience of transitions, resilient journeys, and intercultural tools to move ahead. As the conference theme indeed indicated: "Moving Ahead: Learning from the Global Pandemic. Are you equipped? Are you ready?

    I know that many of you can't wait to put 2020 behind and start a new year. New year, New me!

    New Year’s resolutions forming in hope for better days. This is the trend, the “usual” talk we read, hear about, or even say on the eve of a new year. Hungry for "NEW" in all aspects of our lives such as health, finances, career and/or relationships—a tentatively scribbled plan of execution that more often than ever does not happen because “NEW” means “CHANGE.”

    “Change” is the magic word needed to evolve, transform and leap forward. “CHANGE” is the reality we faced in 2020 with the Corona virus altering our daily routines, turning the familiar into total uncertainty. “Change” that created the nostalgia for things to be “normal” again.

    It has been a challenging and painful year in many ways. This global killer called COVID19 has taken many lives around the world and plunged our global economy in a deep abyss, shaken our lives, separated us from family, friends, and even closed our borders interrupting the global travel many of us yearn for personally and professionally.

    We craved things we value most and what we craved most was the basic need for connection.

    Connection manifested when being in the presence of friends, family. We need physical connection such as the touch of a hand, a kiss, a hug—face-to-face celebrations, gatherings, meetings that nurture us in very special ways. Technology seemed to be the answer as platforms like Zoom created instant connection, bringing us together from all corners of the world. As artificial as it was, technology seemed to be the answer. However, the real answer came when we truly disconnected from the rat race, commute, noise, and over-scheduled agenda. We disconnected in order to reconnect to ourselves. Nature became our companion—birds singing, fresh cleaner air filling our lungs, silent nights soothing our hearts and souls. Mindfulness replaced our full minds. Self-care became a priority.

    We needed to reinforce our values, to nurture and grow Strength, Self-Care, Courage, Confidence, Connection, and Compassion. When we disconnected to reconnect with ourselves that allowed us to embrace a deeper connection. We were given that opportunity when the world seemed to stop. Our lives paused—frozen in time. While recognizing that this occurred, we had—and still have—the choice to fight in resentment and fear or choose to just be, nurture inner peace and build resilience. My friends, that is the toolbox we all have and need to use in our personal and professional lives.

    So, once again, as we are facing the year-end holidays cheering goodbye to 2020, saying hello to 2021, a year of change, ask yourself: “How can we once again, as we do each year, turn our backs on the immediate past that has shaped us and become who we are destined to be? How can we possibly build a better future without learning from our past?

    As the late Maya Angelou often quoted: “We can only know where we are going if we know where we've been!”

    So, in these final weeks of 2020, just as I did in my closing keynote of the SIETAR USA 2020 conference, entitled "Globalisciously® Stretching into Change", I invite you to mindfully embrace 2020 and all it has taught us. Remember: What does not kill you makes you stronger!

    In healing love for peace, health and prosperity to all.

    Globalisciously® yours,

    Patricia Malidor Coleman aka Ms. Globaliscious

  • 14 Dec 2020 8:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Craig StortiTWO BY MORITZ THOMSEN: Living Poor and The Saddest Pleasure

    Reviewed by Craig Storti

    There’s a movement afoot (led in part by Mark Walker, see the interview below) to elevate Moritz Thomsen to the status of a Very Important Writer, someone whose books stay in print for generations and get assigned in college literature classes, someone whose name every well-read person should know. And we here at BookMarks are happy to do our part. We briefly mentioned Thomsen in one of our previous columns (where we reviewed two Peace Corps memoirs), and now the time has come to bring him front and center.

    1985 Edition Cover Living PoorLiving Poor: An American’s Encounter with Ecuador (image is the cover second edition) is widely considered the quintessential Peace Corps memoir. With deepest apologies to all my Peace Corps friends, that’s damning with faint praise; Living Poor is a great memoir, period, and easily transcends both the Peace Corps and the memoir genres. It is the story of Thomsen’s close to four years as an agricultural development volunteer in Rioverde, an exceptionally poor village on Ecuador’s southern coast, but at a deeper level it’s the slowly unfolding story of a middle class, middle-aged American’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to understand poverty—or at least poor people. That Thomsen fails, or at least believes he has failed, does not detract from the power of the story, since in the end it is about his relationships with a handful of people, characters so beautifully drawn, so alive, that you care about them every bit as much as Thomsen. (If one is a writer or has any writing aspirations whatsoever, these characters are what might be called heartbreakingly alive, as in it breaks one’s heart to realize one could never create characters so real oneself).

    But I digress. Living Poor is mainly about chickens, eggs, pigs, corn, bananas, and the jungle. Thomsen’s Peace Corps assignment is to help poor farmers raise chickens and pigs, plant kitchen gardens, clear land so they can plant corn and coconuts—and assorted other first-world schemes not designed with dirt-poor farmers living at the edge of equatorial rainforests uppermost in mind. There are setbacks: the people are way too poor to afford chicken feed; the chickens die of cholera; the pigs break through weak fences and wander off; one good rain washes away everyone’s kitchen garden; corn stalks wither and die. The second half of the book deals with Thomsen’s attempts to start a farmers’ co-op whereby people for whom a stick of sugar cane is on occasion their only meal will learn to temporarily sacrifice immediate personal and family welfare for the slightly delayed promise of improved living standards for all. More setbacks follow.

    Above all Living Poor is the story of Ramon Prado and his wife Ester and, later, their little daughter Martita (destined to be Martin until she turned out to be a girl). Thomsen ends up caring so deeply about this family it hurts. And their love for him is total. The last paragraph of the book, as Thomsen comes to say good bye at the end of his time in Rioverde, a paragraph so lovely it would stand out by a mile in any other book, is pure Thomsen:

    So I drank the coffee, and Ramon told Martita to say good-by, pretending outrage because she was smiling, and then I said good-by to Ester, and everything was under control, everything like a dream. But as I stepped down off the porch to leave, Ester screamed, and I turned to see her, her face contorted with tears streaming down her cheeks. We hugged each other, and Ramon rushed from the house and stood on the brow of the hill, looking down intently into the town.

    Where else can you read anything as beautiful as that?

    You have to be in the mood for travel books; even the best ones are necessarily episodic, a series of vignettes, each delightful in itself, to be sure, but with the parts not always adding up to any particular whole, and the book, as a result, not building to the kind of climax readers expect as their reward for sticking with the author. For this reason, although I deeply admired Living Poor and its stunning sequel A Farm on the River of Emeralds, I’ve always been wary of The Saddest Pleasure, as I understood it to be mostly a travel book, meaning that I’d have to be in the mood. So, I have only read it just now so I could write this review.

    Cover image of The Saddest PleasureI should have known better; it’s Moritz, after all, who just can’t write a book that doesn’t cast a spell early on and grip you till the end. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers is ostensibly the story of a trip Thomsen takes from his home in Quito to Rio and then up the Amazon from Belem to Manaus. But the book is mostly a journey into Thomsen’s past, specifically the story of his relationship with his father, a monster whom he loathed and in reacting to whom, he now realizes, he became the man we meet in the pages of his books, and the story of the final chapter of Thomsen’s relationship with Ramon Prado and his family, the hero of Living Poor and of A Farm on the River of Emeralds. In between these two gripping narratives, we get beautifully written glimpses of Brazil and the Amazon and marvelous character sketches of Thomsen’s travelling companions. It is a credit to Thomsen’s powers that although the journey is more or less a complete bust—he never even arrives in Manaus before the book ends—the reader hardly notices because the real journey here is almost entirely internal and completely compelling.

    There’s a lot of soul searching here, in short, and the only thing that can possibly save a book like this is that the soul in question is so fascinating and so skillfully probed—although the flawless prose helps—that you are on the edge of your seat. Preposterous, you’re thinking. How can even the best written soul searching ever hope to rise to the level of real drama? I have absolutely no idea; I only know the book works. The last few pages of the final chapter, when Thomsen recreates the two scenes that spelled the end of his relationship with Ramon, are deeply moving.

    Ah Moritz! We miss you. We miss the lovely books you will never write but most of all we Peace Corps veterans miss the chance to meet, or at least to correspond with, the only person, so far as we know, who was a WW II bomber pilot and a Peace Corps volunteer.

    Moritz Thomsen died in 1991. In his stead we have asked Mark Walker, a former Peace Corps volunteer and author of the memoir Different Latitudes, to do the honors in our author interview.

    1. What is it about Thomsen’s writing you admire so much, enough to undertake the crusade you have embarked upon?

    I have to agree with fellow author and personal friend of Moritz, Tom Miller (The Panama Hat Trail), when he said of Thomsen’s writing style, “[H]e pledged allegiance to nothing except his station as an expatriate. And as an expat, he was free to judge us all, an undertaking he finessed with acute observations, self-deprecation, and a flavorful frame of reference that ranged from a Tchaikovsky symphony to a Sealy Posturpedic mattress.” And from fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and author Paul Theroux: “Writing for him is a natural and instinctive act, like breathing.”

    2. Why do you think Living Poor has become such a classic? There have been lots of memoirs, including your own well-received Different Latitudes.

    Moritz was able to articulate like few others, the essence of being a Peace Corps Volunteer, as with this passage from the preface of Living Poor. “For those of us without fifty thousand dollars or so to invest in a pack trip through the Himalayan passes, the Peace Corps is perhaps the last great adventure available to Americans over eighteen years of age. The physical world has been mapped; but in the last analysis, the Peace Corps is an intellectual exploration, the chance (if you are patient enough) to enter in some degree into the hearts and minds and feelings of alien people with exotic cultures….”

    3. Do you have a favorite among his published works? Why?

    As a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who continued his overseas experience promoting local community development activities, The Farm on the River of Emeralds always resonated with me. But like many Thomsen enthusiasts, I’d wondered where his last, illusive manuscript was and how it might be published, bringing the number of travelogue classics to five. So, when Bad News from a Black Coast appeared on Amazon, published, I jumped with joy—at last, 28 years after his death. And it was worth the wait. Although those who have read Thomsen’s previous books will recognize more details and insights into characters and circumstances, this book is a standalone publication and includes several spectacular stories.

    4. What can people do to support your Moritz Thomsen mission?

    Please let me know about any letters and materials you know about Thomsen. He wrote thousands of letters to friends and writers around the world. You can let me know at Mark@MillionMileWalker.com. But first and foremost, share his work and those who have written about him with your friends so as to broaden the audience and appreciation of this iconic writer. Go to my website, www.MillionMileWalker.com under “Library” for reviews of all five of his books. Finally, I’m presently looking for a publisher for The Moritz Thomsen Reader: His Books, His Life and His Legacy Told by the Writers Who Knew Him Best, which will include essays about Moritz from well-known writers like Paul Theroux, Tom Miller and SIETAR’s own Craig Storti.

    5. From your own life, what is one of the most significant, most memorable cross-cultural experiences you have had?

    Undoubtedly, that would be the different worldviews and expectations with the love of my life, Ligia who is Guatemalan. I illustrate some of these differing expectations with my “She’d Reconsider List,” which are the items I might have shared with her to consider before agreeing to spend her life together with me:

    He will constantly embarrass you in social settings with his horrendous grammar and constant use of foul language picked up in various slums and rural settings.

    He’ll take you home to meet his family in the middle of winter, when it snows constantly, and the temperature rarely exceeds the freezing point.

    Every three years, he’ll ask you to pack up the children and all your earthly belongings and move to a different country, where you’ll not know a soul.

    His idea of success is helping the maximum number of extremely poor people he has never met before.

    6. If you could pass on only one insight/one lesson learned about crossing cultures to the readers of this newsletter, what would you say?

    I’m a firm proponent of Mark Twain’s quip, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

  • 14 Dec 2020 8:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Michele Hanna, PhD., MSW As we begin a new year, the SIETAR USA Board of Directors welcomes a new member, Michele Hanna, PhD., MSW who has been elected to serve as the Board Leadership Development Director. Dr. Hanna's scholarship and career in higher education includes extensive work in social work, student support, qualitative research, intercultural competence, the Intercultural Developmental Inventory (IDI), and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Dr. Hanna is a dedicated educator whose passion is working with others and helping cultivate future leaders. One of the things that brings her joy in her work is being able to help people become the best that they can be. She has a wealth of experience in working with different people to help them identify what brings them joy, draw out their strengths, and guide them into positions that match their skills and interests. Therefore, Dr. Hanna is a natural fit for her new role as the Board Leadership Development Director.

    Dr. Hanna first heard about SIETAR USA several years ago through her long-time friend and colleague in the field, Dr. Sherri Tapp. Dr. Hanna first connected with SIETAR USA in 2019 when she presented a session about the IDI at the conference in Atlanta. The conference was the perfect opportunity for her to attend educational sessions, meet many SIETAR USA members and Board members, and talk with people also interested in the fields of DEI and intercultural competence. Throughout the conference, she enjoyed conversing with people, all of whom were at different points in their intercultural competence journeys and careers. Her conference involvement and positive experience are what confirmed her interest and desire to join SIETAR USA, and become even more involved.

    Like many SIETARians, Dr. Hanna is a people-person with a love of learning and facilitating. She is looking forward to working with and learning more about her fellow Board members, the Board’s organizational culture, its history, its different roles and committees, its expectations and vision, and the hopes and goals of the President Elect, Brett Perry. One of Dr. Hanna's hopes is to help the board represent the organization’s mission - diverse cultural leadership – because it is important to have different voices on the Board. She would like to cultivate new and future leaders from membership who represent diverse voices.

    Over the course of her career, Dr. Hanna has had many different leadership and administrative roles. So, she firmly believes that serving on a board or committee is a great experience for all people to have. Taking on a committee or leadership role with SIETAR USA helps members to hone their intercultural competency skills, strengthens the organization, and further develop the fields of intercultural competency and DEI. For any SIETARians who might be thinking about or interested in getting more involved with the organization, Dr. Hanna has some great advice. If you’re interested, speak up and talk to the SIETAR USA leadership (i.e., SIETAR USA committee members and those in leadership roles). Even if someone might not be ready or interested in being on the Board now, there are still many other options besides leadership roles – and Dr. Hanna is looking forward to helping members discover the best fit for themselves and SIETAR USA.

    Written by: Emily Kawasaki

  • 14 Dec 2020 8:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Katerina Salas-Natchova Many SIETARians speak fondly about the amazing impact that SIETAR USA conferences had on their lives, careers, and intercultural competence journeys. Katerina Salas-Natchova is no exception. She became involved with the organization when she attended the 2017 conference in San Diego, California. Katerina first heard about the organization two years earlier thanks to her now fellow Board member, Julia Gaspar-Bates. Throughout her career in international education, Katerina had a strong interest in the intercultural competence and cross-cultural communication side of the field. Her attendance and experience at the 2017 conference confirmed her instincts – that she found a great organization with which she wanted to get involved, and a very unique community of like-minded people with whom she could connect and learn. At the conference, she also attended enlightening and insightful sessions that brought a lot of clarity to her identity as a multicultural person.

    Attending the 2017 SIETAR USA conference was a pivotal moment for Katerina. It was then that she felt drawn to the field of intercultural communication and training, heard her “calling in life”, and began looking for ways to get more engaged within that community. She attended the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC) as a Fellow in 2018 and participated in the 2019 Winter Institute for Intercultural Communication (WIIC). There, she met Sandy Fowler while attending a workshop on Developing Cultural Humility. Sandy, as well as other members actively volunteering at SIETAR USA, encouraged Katerina to get involved with the organization. They shared their knowledge and let her know about the many different opportunities for volunteering. Katerina served as the Co-Chair on the Sponsors, Advertisers, and Exhibitors Committee as part of the 2019 Conference Planning Team. She had a wonderful experience in contributing to the organization, the conference and the field itself. Serving on the committee was a great opportunity for her to learn more about SIETAR USA and to meet and connect with different people including Members of the Board, the conference team, other fellow SIETAR USA volunteers as well as many seasoned professionals in the field. She learned that the Board had open positions from Julia Gaspar-Bates and was encouraged to join the team. Katerina’s interest led her to ask what roles were available, about the team, and what help was needed by the organization. Her conversations and what she learned from others further confirmed her desire to join and become even more active within SIETAR USA. She felt excited about the new opportunity to serve on the board and to continue her growth in and contributions to the field.

    Katerina was welcomed very warmly to the Board and soon learned that the Board membership consisted of amazing, extraordinary people with different personalities and accomplishments. She appreciated how much everyone supported each other and adapted to different interpersonal dynamics. One of Katerina’s most cherished memories of her time on the Board occurred during one conversation on the “anti-racism initiative” in which she had an open, insightful, and important interaction with her fellow Board members. When discussing the question, “how can we as an organization fight and dismantle racism,” Board members had the opportunity to talk about their identities, cultural and racial backgrounds, and their experience with racism in a safe space. This gave Katerina the opportunity to “speak her truth” and share more about “who Katerina is” with her colleagues. She felt it was a great opportunity to share, be more vulnerable, have her voice heard, feel seen, and feel comfortable saying, “there’s some things I feel comfortable sharing and some things I don’t feel comfortable sharing yet. But this is a great first step to building that relationship and establishing that trust.” It was eye-opening how much Board members knew yet also didn’t know about each other. That interaction and conversation demonstrated to her how much everyone appreciated that their colleagues shared and wanted to hear more.

    One of Katerina’s proudest accomplishments was implementing the initiative to review and revamp leadership role descriptions to ensure that they were clear, accurate, polished, professional, and consistent with the SIETAR USA brand. She created a position description template including the scope of the role, main responsibilities and objectives, time commitment and expectations, and the ideal candidate profile. This new tool has made the recruitment process more effective and transparent for Board members and volunteer engagement. The template has created a space that helps volunteers ask questions and get accurate answers from the Board. It can also help leadership figure out what kind of additional support volunteers might need when they begin in a new role. Katerina advises SIETARians thinking about volunteering to talk with the SIETAR USA leadership as well as with members who are currently serving to get information about the different opportunities available and the realities of volunteering (I.e., time commitment required, the team etc.). Speaking with current and past Board members and experienced volunteers also allows SIETAR USA members to start building relationships through personal connections, and learning more about the organization, the SIETAR USA community and its needs, and the field in general.

    Katerina’s experience on the board also confirmed her capability of leaning into uncomfortable situations and conversations with courage and compassion, while also remaining true to herself and speaking her truth with kindness. As practitioners in the fields of intercultural competence and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it is important to feel comfortable doing this despite personal feelings of discomfort and to see it as a learning and growth opportunity.

    Katerina’s intercultural journey, vocation, and volunteering have all been underscored by the themes of collaboration and positivity. One of her favorite quotes by which she lives her life is by Brené Brown: “At the end of the day, at the end of the week, and at the end of my life, I want to be able to say that I contributed more than I criticized.”

    Katerina will complete her term at the end of this month and decided not to extend her service on the Board so that she can focus on starting her independent intercultural training and coaching practice, a dream she’s had for many years. She is very excited about this new chapter in her life and the opportunities it will create to collaborate with colleagues in the intercultural field and to guide and support people around the world as they navigate their own intercultural journeys.

    Written by: Emily Kawasaki

  • 14 Dec 2020 7:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    December 15, 2020 – Young SIETAR Webinar: “International Relations” with Elena Terekhova. Visit http://www.youngsietar.org/events  to register!

    January 6, 2021 – SIETAR Nederland WEBINAR: “From Diversity & Inclusion to Wellbeing: the DIVERSITY approach” with Vincent Merk. Visit https://www.sietar.nl/agenda/  to register!

    January 13, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “The Change Within: Liberating the Colonised Mind” with Dr. Pritima Chainani-Barta. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/#!event-list to register!

    January 13, 2021 – SIETAR USA WEBINAR: “Creating Inclusive Multicultural Remote Teams – Remotely” with Gigi de Groot. Visit https://www.sietarusa.org/events  to register!



    December 16-24: Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration in Mexico commemorating the trials Mary and Joseph endured during their journey to Bethlehem.

    December 21: Yule Winter Solstice, celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans. The shortest day of the year represents a celebration focusing on rebirth, renewal and new beginnings as the sun makes its way back to the Earth. A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky.

    December 25: Christmas Day, the day that many Christians associate with Jesus’ birth.

    December 26: Boxing Day, a secular holiday celebrated in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Africa.

    December 26: St. Stephen’s Day, a day to commemorate St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, or protomartyr.

    December 26: Zartosht No-Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathushtra), a day of remembrance in the Zoroastrian religion. It is a commemoration of the death anniversary of the prophet Zoroaster, or Zarathushtra.

    Happy KwanzaaDecember 26-January 1: Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday started by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate universal African-American heritage.

    December 27: Feast of the Holy Family, a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church in honor of Jesus, his mother and his foster father, St. Joseph as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.

    December 27: St. John’s Day, Apostle and Evangelist, feast day for St. John celebrated by Christian denominations.

    December 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents, a Christian feast in remembrance of the massacre of young children in Bethlehem by King Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus.

    December 31: Watch Night, a day for Christians to review the year that has passed, make confessions, and then prepare for the year ahead by praying and resolving.


    January 1: New Year’s Day, the first day of the year according to the modern Gregorian calendar, celebrated within most Western countries.

    January 2: Bodhi Day, the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali.

    January 2: Feast Day of St. Basil, a holiday observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church, commemorating the death of Saint. Basil the Great.

    January 3: Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church, commemorates the naming of the child Jesus.

    January 4: World Braille Day January 4: World Braille Day, observed in order to raise awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people. Celebrated on Louis Braille’s birthday, the inventor of braille.

    January 5: Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s birthday, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs who initiated the Sikhs as the Khalsa (the pure ones) and is known as the Father of the Khalsa.

    January 5: Twelfth Night, a festival celebrated by some branches of Christianity that marks the coming of the Epiphany.

    January 6: Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day), a holiday observed by Eastern and Western Christians that recognizes the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus 12 days after his birth.

    January 6: Christmas, recognized on this day by Armenian Orthodox Christians, who celebrate the birth of Jesus on Epiphany.

    January 7: Christmas, recognized on this day by Eastern Orthodox Christians, who celebrate Christmas 13 days later than other Christian churches because they follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian version of the Western calendar.

    January 14: Maghi - Lohri, an annual festival celebrated by the Sikhs commemorating the memory of 40 Sikh martyrs.

    January 14: Makar Sankranti January 14: Makar Sankranti, a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India.

    January 20: Bodhi Day, the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali.

    January 28: Mahayana New Year, a holiday celebrated by the Mahayana Buddhist branch, on the first full-moon day in January.

    Holidays list courtesy of:  https://www.diversitybestpractices.com/2020-diversity-holidays and https://www.calendarlabs.com/holidays/religious/

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