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  • 18 Oct 2021 10:21 PM | Emily Kawasaki (Administrator)

    I want to draw your attention to look at the BookMarks column by Craig Storti in this issue of the newsletter. Craig reviewed Connecting Hearts and Minds: Insights, Skills, and Best Practices for Dealing with Differences by Greg Nees. I thank Craig for bringing this worthy book to our attention. For those of you who already know Greg Nees’ work, you will find that Craig is as impressed with it as you are. If you don’t know Greg’s work, then let Craig introduce you!

    As I was thinking about all the work that has already gone into the conference planning for Omaha and all that was entailed in postponing it another year for the safety of our members (who really want to get together but are hesitant to do so with the pandemic still with us), I was reminded of some words by the poet T.S. Eliot:

    In order to arrive there,

    To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,

    You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

    In order to arrive at what you do not know

    You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

    In order to possess what you do not possess

    You must go by the way of dispossession. 

    T.S. Eliot (East Coker Quartet 2)

    Elliot captures nicely for me, the way you get anywhere you want or need to go—with effort, perseverance, and by letting go of the things you cannot control—but often control you. That clearly describes the story of planning the Mind, Culture, and Society conference. Fortunately, the robust plans will not need to be scrapped and the conference will take place in Omaha next year. But we did have to give it up for this year with the Delta variant still making its way around the United States and too large a percentage of the population still vaccine resistant.

    I think that Eliot had in mind a much more profound concept as he wrote that stanza, but I feel that it also applies to the holidays that are fast approaching. Whatever holiday you celebrate at the end of the year requires planning and there is never enough time to do all of it. It was clear in the Master Workshops that just concluded that “taking care of ourselves” was a theme. And that is what I wish for you this year: Time to get the things in order that are important for you and the courage to let the rest go. There will be times of joy and times of stress and sometimes both at the same time. But it’s a time for deep breaths and focusing on the joy. Make it so.

     Sandra M. Fowler

    Editor, The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA

  • 18 Oct 2021 9:43 PM | Emily Kawasaki (Administrator)

    October & November Coming Events


    October 20, 2021 - SIETAR Europa Webinar“Intercultural Playground (ICP): Inscape Room for Global Teams” with Joanna Sell and Dr. Grazia Ghellini. Visit SIETAR Europa Events to register!

    October 20, 2021 – SIETAR Deutschland Webinar: “How to adapt to a new culture without losing your identity” with Kinga Białek and Aleksandra Darul-Hagemeister. Visit SIETAR Deutschland Events to register!

    October 21, 2021 – SIETAR Italia Webinar:Talking about interculture to the new generations” with Marco Croci and Veronica La Via. Visit SIETAR Italia Events to register!

    October 27, 2021 – SIETAR France Webinar: “Made in France and elsewhere: Identity as a preliminary prototype” with Bjorn Ekelund. Visit SIETAR France Events to register!

    October 29, 2021 – SIETAR BC Webinar: “Self-studies - Language and Pedagogy”. Visit SIETAR BC Events to register!

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

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

    October is Global Diversity Awareness Month, a month to celebrate and increase awareness about the diversity of cultures and ethnicities, and the positive impact that diversity can have on  society. 

    October is Filipino American History Month, which celebrates and recognizes the heritage and history of the Filipino community, past and present. It also commemorates the arrival of the first Filipinos that landed in what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587. It is also the birth month of Filipino American labor leader Larry Itliong.

    October is German-American Heritage Month, which honors, celebrates, and pays tribute to the contributions of German-Americans in the United States.

    October is Italian-American Heritage Month, which honors, celebrates, and pays tribute to the contributions of Italian-Americans in the United States.

    October is Polish-American Heritage Month, which honors, celebrates, and pays tribute to the contributions of Polish-Americans in the United States.

    October 1-7:National Diversity Week, which was founded in 1998 to raise awareness about the diversity which has shaped, and continues to shape, the United States.

    October 10:World Mental Health Day, which is observed to raise awareness about mental health and to dismantle the social stigma surrounding it.

    October 11:

    • Columbus Day, a national holiday in many countries of the Americas and elsewhere, and a federal holiday in the United States that marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492.
    • Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a newly-designated federal holiday that was formally declared by Pres. Biden to celebrate and honor Native American peoples and commemorate their histories and cultures.
    • National Coming Out Day, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community.

    Oct 12: Día de la Hispanidad (Spain), Dia de la Raza (Mexico), Día de las Culturas (Costa Rica), Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity (Argentina), Decolonization Day (Bolivia), Day of Interculturality and Plurinationality (Ecuador), Day of Indigenous Peoples and Intercultural Dialogue (Peru), and Indigenous Resistance Day (Venezuela) all celebrate the contributions of the countries’ indigenous, Spanish, African, and Asian cultures.

    October 15: International Day of Rural Women, which was first observed by the United National General Assembly in 2008 and recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security, and eradicating rural poverty.” It is purposely held the day before World Food Day in order to highlight the role played by rural women in food production and food security.

    October 18 (every third Monday in October):Multicultural Diversity Day, adopted as a national event by the NEA’s 1993 Representative Assembly to “increase awareness of the tremendous need to celebrate our diversity collectively.”

    October 18-19 (sundown to sundown):Eid Milad un-Nabi, an Islamic holiday commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad.

    October 18-19:Mawlid al-Nabi or Eid Milad Un Nabi, which celebrates the birth and life of Prophet Muhammad. It falls on the 12th or 17th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-awwal.

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

    October 20 (third Wednesday of October):International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace.

    October 21:LGBTQ+ Spirit Day, which was created to demonstrate support for LGBTQ+ youth and to speak out against bullying.

    October 29: National Organization for Women (NOW), which was founded in 1966 to take action to bring about equality for all women.

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


    November 2, 2021 – SIETAR Switzerland Webinar: “Cultural diversity: what opportunities, what challenges? Café Philo: a place of reflection and debate” moderated by Dr. Pia Stalder and Anne-Claude Lambelet, and the participation of Sabine Baerlocher and Benoît Théry. Visit SIETAR Switzerland Events to register!

    November 6, 2021 – SIETAR UK Event: “A Brief Exploration of the Cultural Journeys of Refugees and Volunteers: A 3h Short Online Intercultural Training Session”. Visit SIETAR UK Events to register!

    November 11, 12 & 19, 2021 – SIETAR Deutschland Webinar: “How do I write a book?" with Debra Messer. Visit SIETAR Deutschland Events to register!

    November is National Native American Heritage Month, which was started in 1915 by Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and Director of the Museum of Arts in Rochester, NY. Initially, it was a single day designed to recognize the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. In 1990, then-President G.W. Bush approved the designation of the full month of November as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.

    November 1:Día de los Santos Inocentes (“Holy Innocents Day”) or Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”), an observance festivity in Mexico that celebrates and honor one’s ancestors, specifically children and infants, and is based on the belief that there is an interaction between the living world and the world of spirits.

    November 2:Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos (“Day of the Dead”), a celebration in Mexico to honor deceased adult family members.

    November 4:Diwali (“Festival of Lights”), a major Hindu holiday that signifies the renewal of life and the victory of good over evil, and combines a number of festivals to celebrate different gods/goddesses and life events.

    November 5-6 (sundown to sundown):Birth of Báb, a Bahá’í holiday celebrating the birth of the prophet Báb.

    November 6-7 (sundown to sundown): The birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í religion.

    November 11:Veterans Day (US), Armistice Day (UK), and Remembrance Day (AU), a day to honor military veterans.

    Holiday Calendar courtesy of: https://seramount.com/articles/category/heritage-months/

  • 17 Sep 2021 6:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The 2021 Conference Committee has labored long and hard to produce an outstanding conference program. We are grateful to them for all the work they did and look forward to attending the conference they produced. Following the rise in Covid cases as closely as we have, it became apparent that asking our members to get on an airplane and come to a conference that would be held indoors (despite all the efforts of the Hilton Hotel to make it as safe as possible), we could not guarantee the safety of our attendees. We did not want to put our members in harm’s way especially since a totally vaccinated person can be asymptomatic and a carrier.

    When a SIETAR USA member recently suffered a breakthrough Covid infection, was sick for weeks, and found the recovery slow and painful, we were sure that we needed to do something. We have a very cooperative relationship with the Omaha Hilton. Together we have been working to reschedule our conference for the Fall of 2022. These negotiations are complicated, which is why it takes time to reach an amicable resolution of all the issues. However, it is clear that there will be no in-person conference this year.

    We would specifically like to thank our conference co-chairs, Helen Fagan and Thorunn Bjarndottir for taking the helm and managing the process of organizing the conference. Our Conference program co-chairs, Ricardo Nunez and Linda Stuart along with the Track Chairs (Mind: Shannon Murphy and Marcia Warren Edelman, Culture: Rajesh Kumar and Kris Acheson-Clair, Society: Ferial Peterson and Deborah Pembleton) created a program with range and depth that makes us proud. Bob Boyce could be counted on to get the scholarship application information out on time as he did last year. Many of the other committee members are there to handle conference matters such as the Silent Auction, Dine Around, Volunteers, Roommate Connection and other items that don’t take place until the conference.

    As much as we would like to gather and learn together, this is not the time. We do have some plans in the works to use that weekend of the conference (October 9 and 10) for a virtual learning experience. No, it will not be the full conference, but we think you will find it something not to miss. Details coming soon!

  • 15 Sep 2021 12:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Opinion: New York Times, Aug 17, 2021

    In the last two decades, millions of Afghan women and girls received an education. Now the future they were promised is dangerously close to slipping away. The Taliban — who until losing power 20 years ago barred nearly all girls and women from attending school and doled out harsh punishment to those who defied them — are back in control. Like many women, I fear for my Afghan sisters.

    I cannot help but think of my own childhood. When the Taliban took over my hometown in Pakistan’s Swat Valley in 2007 and shortly thereafter banned girls from getting an education, I hid my books under my long, hefty shawl and walked to school in fear. Five years later, when I was 15, the Taliban tried to kill me for speaking out about my right to go to school.

    I cannot help but be grateful for my life now. After graduating from college last year and starting to carve out my own career path, I cannot imagine losing it all — going back to a life defined for me by men with guns.


    Afghan girls and young women are once again where I have been — in despair over the thought that they might never be allowed to see a classroom or hold a book again. Some members of the Taliban say they will not deny women and girls education or the right to work. But given the Taliban’s history of violently suppressing women’s rights, Afghan women’s fears are real. Already, we are hearing reports of female students being turned away from their universities, female workers from their offices.

    None of this is new for the people of Afghanistan, who have been trapped for generations in proxy wars of global and regional powers. Children have been born into battle. Families have been living for years in refugee camps — thousands more have fled their homes in recent days.

    The Kalashnikovs carried by the Taliban are a heavy burden on the shoulders of all Afghan people. The countries who have used Afghans as pawns in their wars of ideology and greed have left them to bear the weight on their own.

    But it is not too late to help the Afghan people — particularly women and children.

    Over the last two weeks, I spoke with several education advocates in Afghanistan about their current situation and what they hope will happen next. (I am not naming them here because of security concerns.) One woman who runs schools for rural children told me she has lost contact with her teachers and students.

    “Normally we work on education, but right now we are focusing on tents,” she said. “People are fleeing by the thousands and we need immediate humanitarian aid so that families are not dying from starvation or lack of clean water.” She echoed a plea I heard from others: Regional powers should be actively assisting in the protection of women and children. Neighboring countries — China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan — must open their doors to fleeing civilians. That will save lives and help stabilize the region. They must also allow refugee children to enroll in local schools and humanitarian organizations to set up temporary learning centers in camps and set up temporary learning centers in camps and settlements.

    Looking to Afghanistan’s future, another activist wants the Taliban to be specific about what they will allow: “It is not enough to vaguely say, ‘Girls can go to school.’ We need specific agreements that girls can complete their education, can study science and math, can go to university and be allowed to join the work force and do jobs they choose.” The activists I spoke with feared a return to religious-only education, which would leave children without the skills they need to achieve their dreams and their country without doctors, engineers and scientists in the future.

    We will have time to debate what went wrong in the war in Afghanistan, but in this critical moment we must listen to the voices of Afghan women and girls. They are asking for protection, for education, for the freedom and the future they were promised. We cannot continue to fail them. We have no time to spare.

    Malala Yousafzai (@malala) is a global activist for girls’ education and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She is also co-founder of the Malala Fund. (Malala Yousafzai image: CC license)

    Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

  • 15 Sep 2021 6:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At first, when Sandy approached the three of us to share some thoughts about a New York Times article by Malala Yousafzai regarding the situation of women in Afghanistan, we weren’t sure which direction to go. None of us consider ourselves experts on Afghanistan and none of us claim to understand the Taliban. We shared concerns about writing from our western-influenced lenses and how that may just perpetuate stereotypes. Soumaya recalled that the USA invaded Iraq to free the women, yet the women there were nuclear scientists. It’s messy. But I typically do what Sandy asks of me, so I proposed that Luby, Soumaya, and I have a Zoom call to just chat, as friends, who also happen to be interculturalists with personal experience and some expertise in Muslim/Arab/MENA (Middle East – North African) cultures; there is a little overlap from that perspective. And we’d see what insights we might be able to share. Since I identify as a ‘rule-breaker,’ there was some veering off from Sandy’s original request to focus on Malala’s commentary regarding the current situation of women in Afghanistan and the possible implications on their education. Instead, much of our discussion focused on what we (all of us!), as interculturalists, can do to support, given the events in Afghanistan that are continuing to unfold.

    Here we share some snippets from our conversation. First, it is important to acknowledge that with the news cycle these days, events are developing quickly and information sometimes becomes outdated before it even gets out in print. We recognize, too, that Afghanistan is a diverse country with various ethnic groups, each with unique qualities and priorities.

    Watching the initial news coverage about Afghanistan as the August 31st evacuation deadline approached, Luby shared a connection to some of her earlier work at the beginning of what turned out to be a 20-year war. “A few days after 9/11/2001, I’ll never forget. I received a call and it said, ‘US Government’ and I picked up the phone and they said ‘This is the Department of Justice and we received your name,’ and I thought, ‘For what?!’ It was the Community Relations arm (peacemakers) of the DOJ and they said they needed to know how to quell the tensions and bring peace into the community after the attacks on the Twin Towers… They wanted help to understand and de-escalate …. And that initial experience brings us to today and what’s going on… and what we’re being asked which is: How do we, as interculturalists, show up in this moment?”

    Soumaya chimed in with a thought we were all feeling - a strong desire to be proactive. “OK, here is the situation we’re in. We’re getting refugees from Afghanistan – how are we going to accommodate them?” We all agreed that we can’t do anything to change what is going on in Afghanistan and how the Taliban is doing it. So, what we need to do is figure out how we can respond as interculturalists in our own spheres of influence. How can we help prepare our local communities to receive new Afghan refugees? How can we facilitate mutual understanding, on all sides?

    Here are some ideas on how you can engage respectfully:

    • Interculturalists can play a key role in their own communities in the area of refugee resettlement. Take initiative where you are and seek out local organizations who are set up to help. Let the decision-makers know that you can help them understand cultural differences (on both sides).
    • Keep in mind that more than financial help is needed. Volunteer your time.
    • Familiarize yourself with some core Afghani values:
      • Hierarchy and social stratification are significant. Recognize this and look for the nuances of power structures. Keep in mind that immigrants/refugees may experience backlash from their own local Afghani community if they step out of the expected hierarchy (even if the purpose is to more effectively acculturate)
      • History matters! US Americans often say “It’s history. It doesn’t matter.” But in Afghani and Arab cultures, people say, “It’s history – it matters!” So, it is important to recognize this and to learn more about their history. Ask questions and show curiosity.
      • A strong sense of tribalism guides social relations. This tribalism, in addition to the hierarchical structures, adds another layer of complexity.
      • Relational loyalty and connections are important.
    • Emphasize the importance of understanding gender roles and the etiquette between men and women. In some ways, US American women have more power of access than men to assist the Afghan refugees – many of whom will be women and children and who may be vulnerable. They’ll feel more comfortable with women helping them.
    • Recognize the prevalent misconceptions in the west about women in places like Afghanistan and how those women see themselves.
    • Help people understand that if they are coming from a faith background, their help should be without strings attached.
    • Keep in mind that Afghans are very proud people – notice how this manifests in their behavior.
    • If you witness bias or harassment, consider using strategies recommended for ‘bias-interrupters.’ For example, if you notice someone is staring or beginning to harass another person, engage with that ‘targeted’ person in friendly conversation, and ignore the harasser. This can disempower the harasser. You do not need to know specific information about the culture and you don’t need specific training. You can simply use these tips to be a decent human, to be that friendly face in the community.

    From our experiences assisting with refugee services, we believe that even small gestures can make a big difference. The emphasis should be on a warm welcome. For example, paying attention to the culture when selecting the staple foods and spices when equipping a kitchen can make a big difference.

    Like many of you, we have been feeling disheartened by watching the events in Afghanistan… but we don’t want to be stuck there. We want to spring into action and see how we can help… find creative ways to make a difference within our circles of influence.

    This is a call to action. We, as interculturalists, need to focus on – and motivate others to – move forward. This is what we were built to do! We build bridges. We change the world…

    Written by:

    Lobna "Luby" Ismail

    Soumaya Khalifa

    Basma Ibrahim DeVries

  • 14 Sep 2021 7:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month BookMarks welcomes guest reviewer Peter Franklin, whose book The Mindful International Manager we reviewed in this space a few months back. Peter’s review choices here reflect his own story to some degree: he is an Englishman, graduate of Cambridge, who has lived almost all his professional life in Germany, where he now teaches at Konstanz University of Applied Sciences and at that institution’s Lake Constance Graduate School, where Peter helps business students master intercultural communication and intercultural management. (Craig Storti, Book Review Editor)

    Fred Uhlman: The Making of an Englishman, published in 1960 by Victor Gollancz

    Peter Gumbel: Citizens of Everywhere, published in 2020 by Haus Publishing

    A review by Peter Franklin

    These two books, separated in their writing by 60 years, share the starting point and some of the path on the intercultural journeys they describe. The journeys finally lead to two very different destinations – one of them - my adopted country - over many years engaged in a slow and steady process of societal development for the better; the other – my country of origin - recently catapulted into a process of change, which many fear can only lead to something worse.

    Fred Uhlman was a German Jew, born in 1901. He escaped the fate of his parents in Theresienstadt by ultimately finding refuge in England. All of Peter Gumbel’s grandparents were also Jewish. Like Uhlman, Gumbel’s grandparents fled to England. But Peter Gumbel’s final destination much to his sadness was not to remain England but to his joy became Germany.

    Fred Uhlman’s memoirs are a very readable account of a remarkable man – the story of an intercultural journey from Germany via France and Spain to England, where he achieved modest fame as an artist and writer. It begins as a fascinating tale of a German childhood and youth in the early years of the last century. But it is also a story of a Jewish life in Germany at a time of increasing anti-Semitism. Uhlman didn’t opt to keep his head down but practised from 1927 as a lawyer in Stuttgart, mainly, as he put it, defending the defenders of the Weimar Republic relentlessly under attack, and taking on a leading role in the SPD. In March 1933, after most of his political friends had been arrested, he received a tip-off from a sympathetic Nazi judge that Paris was very nice now, meaning he should flee to France immediately as he was about to be arrested.

    In Paris, unable to practise as a lawyer, Uhlman taught himself to paint and achieved remarkable success as an artist. Tiring of pre-war Paris and wanting to devote himself entirely to painting, in 1935 he continued his intercultural journey and moved to the Costa Brava in Spain, where with other artists he believed he could fulfil his artistic ambitions. There he fell in love with Diana Croft, the daughter of a right-wing, British Conservative member of parliament and later minister, followed her to England and with Diana made the country his home. Knowing nothing of the country, culture or language, he experienced the difficulties of many a migrant or refugee, compounded as it was by his father-in-law’s stern disapproval of his marriage to his daughter and by a six-month internment in 1940 as an undesirable alien.

    Undoubtedly helped by his wife’s network, Uhlman exhibits his work as the book ends in the early 1940’s with renowned artists such as Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore. And he is able to appreciate his new-found home in the book’s final pages as one characterised by tolerance, politeness, political maturity and fairness – all attributes he failed to experience in Germany.

    This was a very different England from the Brexit-inflamed country that compelled Peter Gumbel to seek German nationality - not as a resident of Germany but as a citizen of everywhere as his book’s title has it – a deliberate contrast to the term ‘citizen of nowhere’ which the then prime minister Teresa May disparagingly used to refer to the supporters of continued membership of the EU.

    Peter Gumbel’s Jewish grandparents, like Fred Uhlman, made England their home as well. What the author describes as an essay - of 60 short pages – begins with the tale of how his Jewish grandparents on both sides of the family, well-established, commercially successful and recognised in their respective communities, were forced little by little by the institutionalised discrimination and persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany to give up their livelihoods, flee to England and start all over again in a foreign country.

    Peter Gumbel’s family remained stateless in England for the war years and his father, like Fred Uhlman, was interned before studying law and going on to pursue a successful career in international reinsurance. As Peter Gumbel puts it, his family was ‘a poster child for successful immigration and integration’, an example of interculturality, acquired not through overt education and training but through a lifetime’s journey. His father was decorated both by the English Queen and by the German state for services to his profession.

    Growing up in such a family, Peter Gumbel describes how as a young man he also embarked on an intercultural journey of coming to an understanding of the burden German history places on its citizens. Living a professionally mobile life in the spirit of the European Union and settling in Paris, he gives a sensitive account of how Brexit also challenged his sense of identity (as it did that of the current reviewer), such that after the Brexit referendum, he wanted to use the right guaranteed by the German constitution to descendants of those whom the Nazis had deprived of their citizenship to have their citizenship restored.

    Fred Uhlman was fortunate to find a home and also the political maturity in England that Peter Gumbel (and many others) before and after Brexit failed to find and which prompted him to identify with a Germany which today more obviously represents his values – despite his grandparents’ experiences in Nazi Germany. An intercultural journey indeed.

  • 14 Sep 2021 6:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Nomination period has closed, and we have two incumbent candidates for the two Board positions: Cheryl Woehr for Professional Development and Willette Neal for Membership Outreach and Diversity. Both candidates were serving unfilled terms and have completed the application process. The next step is for the Nominations and Elections Committee (Sue Shinomiya, Pilar Montejo, Kwesi Ewoodzie, Michele Hanna and Sandy Fowler) to interview each candidate and make a recommendation to the Board of Directors. As soon as the candidates have been vetted and approved by the Board, the slate will be announced and there will be a period of time in which anyone who wants to be added to the list can petition to be on the list. Then the membership will have the opportunity to ratify each candidate.

    You may have noticed that the President Elect position has not been mentioned. Over the years it is fairly rare for someone to step forward for that position. That means that the committee needs to search for the best possible candidate. That is in motion. We have a candidate who would be great, and we are waiting for a commitment. We hope we can announce who it is in the next newsletter!

    Board of Directors Changes

    The Leadership Development Director, Michele Hanna regretfully resigned her position due to an overloaded work and home life. She appreciated her time on the Board but felt that it was only fair to both SIETAR USA and to herself to leave at this time.

    We are fortunate that we had three candidates for the two open positions and one of the candidates was interested in serving in the newly opened position of Board Leadership. Since this is an appointment, she won’t be on the slate until she completes the remainder of Michele’s term, and then if she decides to continue in that position, she can run for election to be ratified by the membership and serve a full 3-year term. The Board of Directors approves of all appointments and unanimously voted to appoint Nkenge Friday as the new Leadership Development Director at the Board meeting on September 16th, 2021.

    Sandy Fowler

    Nominations and Election Committee Chair

  • 13 Sep 2021 6:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Elmer Dixon and Deanna Shoss

    Reprinted with permission from Executive Diversity Services https://www.executivediversity.com/2021/08/09/is-your-diversity-training-making-things-worse/

    2020 was a year rife with crisis. A global pandemic, ongoing police shootings of black and brown people and subsequent nationwide protests brought racial inequities in the US to the forefront. Conversations outside of work moved inside as employees expected employers to stand behind them. Companies responded: openings for Directors of Diversity and other Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) related job titles were 54% higher in December 2020 than pre-crisis levels. (Glassdoor). Along with that increase came a higher demand for DEI, Unconscious Bias and Anti-racism training.

    2020 also was no different than any other period where people emerge from the chaos in seek of opportunity. Indeed, a new rash of self-labeled diversity and/or unconscious bias trainers have come forward in the aftermath, many offering ineffective training that does not work.


    The last thing you would expect is a long-time DEI professional saying that diversity training doesn’t work. Yet that’s not the full picture. The broader picture is that ineffective training can actually do more damage than good.

    Successful DEI training should be grounded in research and based on proven theory and techniques for creating equity and inclusion. Many would-be DEI consultants who are new to the field lack the ability to create effective training curricula. Here are a few things to consider when selecting your DEI consultant:

    • Are intercultural services the vendor’s core business?
    • Does the provider have the appropriate knowledge base and program design and delivery skills?
    • Have they contributed to the intercultural field by writing articles or books and making presentations at professional conferences?
    • Can they identify and discuss key cross-cultural concepts?
    • Do they understand the developmental states people experience in becoming culturally competent?

    (See an in-depth guide on https://www.executivediversity.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Selecting-Diversity-Consultants-and-Trainers-EDS.pdfSelecting Diversity Consultants and Trainers here.)


    “When unconscious bias became a thing, a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon and said they could do this work,” says Elmer Dixon, President of Executive Diversity Services (EDS). However, “most unconscious bias trainers identify only surface level bias, what EDS calls https://www.executivediversity.com/2017/08/31/physiognomy-unconscious-bias/the Physiognomy of Unconscious Bias. What they fail to do is to look at the deeper implications of unconscious bias and how it impacts hiring, promotions and a lack of inclusion on teams,” adds Dixon.

    Identifying bias is only one part of the equation. You also need tools to respond. For example, if one finds they harbor a bias against people of a different gender, superficial trainings will call for more exposure—e.g. to spend more time with people of that gender. “Mere exposure without tools that get at the deeper level of unconscious bias will not address the more complex issues,” says Dixon.


    If the trainer is offering a quick one-and-done training, “it’s not worth the time or investment,” says Dixon. And if they are only offering unconscious bias training, that is a red flag right there. Bias training is only one small part of broader DEI training. According to a BBC Worklife article: “the kind of training which institutions tend to favor the most, such as “short, one-shot sessions that can be completed and the requisite diversity boxes ticked,” are unlikely to make a difference in the habits or long-term behavior of participants.” (Zulekha, 2021).

    “What’s next?” is a good question to ask after an initial training. How is the trainer continuing to build knowledge and competence within the company? “Remember that cross-cultural competence is not a destination, but an ongoing journey. You’re never done. You can always learn more,” says Dixon. (Read more about DEI training as a part of an overall DEI strategy.)


    Having diverse groups of employees that know how to best communicate and work with one another is key to success. A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean. (HBR, 2016).

    Having a qualified DEI consultant can make a difference in your company’s success. Check the trainer’s background and references. How long have they been doing this training? What are measurable outcomes (beyond number of people trained). How are they following up in three, six or nine months? And are they customizing the training to your needs?

    Training led by a qualified trainer, that is tied to company business goals, is part of an ongoing company-wide strategy and has support from the top of the organization, is what will ensure successful outcomes.

    See an in-depth guide on Selecting Diversity Consultants and Trainers here or contact us to learn more.


  • 13 Sep 2021 6:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Download the attached PDF of CFP

    International Academy for Intercultural Research's 12th Biennial Conference is 23-28 July 2022 at Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland

    Fostering Intercultural Hearts and Minds
    Applying Intercultural Research for a Sustainable Future

    (Fellows Day and the PhD/Early-Career-Development Workshop on Sunday, 24th of July)

    Introduction of the CFP:

    "After being caught in the chokehold of the Covid19-pandemic for almost two years, what have we learned from this global crisis for the future of our togetherness on this planet? Has the pandemic led to more cooperation between cultural groups, or has it enlarged already existing conflicts? Obviously, in this decade we will have to deal with other burning issues such as global warming, migration, the rise of ”Nationalists” and ""Anti-Globalists,"" distrust in academia, poisoning of communication by conspiracy theories, and the consequent polarization of societies, steered by tribalistic attitudes and actions—among others.

    How does our intercultural research address these issues? How can we apply our intercultural expertise effectively in different professional fields to have an impact on individuals and societies? How does intercultural research help to develop an intercultural and ethical mindset in our various target groups for dealing with the challenges of the present VUCA-world (VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous)? Moreover, how can intercultural research contribute to the four pillars of sustainability (Environment, Economy, Social Equality, and Culture)?

    The mission of IAIR is to encourage the highest quality empirical research and practice aimed at intercultural understanding. Each IAIR conference aims to attract research-oriented scientists and practitioners from a variety of intercultural disciplines to present their work, exchange and discuss ideas, and contribute to intercultural understanding and cooperation. We especially invite you to propose research-based remedies for dealing with the conditions and prominent challenges of these ""post-globalized"" times."

  • 13 Sep 2021 6:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    During the August Board of Directors meeting, a question of the vision for SIETAR USA was raised. There was a follow-up question about the “bridging thing.” We need questions like that so we can continually revisit who we are, who we want to be, how close we think we are to our goals, and how we plan to get there.

    That got me thinking about the bridging between the interculturalists and the diversity, equity and inclusion specialists in SIETAR. The association started as purely intercultural. Many of the early members were involved in activities having to do with international relocation and intercultural research as well as education. Intercultural communication was a central facet of most SIETAR members’ work whether it was teaching, research or training. “Domestic interculturalism” (as it was called then) was known but not a central focus of most of the membership. That has changed. The founding idea behind SIETAR was to create a forum where intercultural educators, trainers, and researchers could meet and create an essentially new field. That forum now includes by choice: diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.

    To some extent, the intent is much the same: a forum where intercultural and DEI professionals can meet to exchange ideas and work together toward their common interests. There is not, nor should there be, a mandate that all interculturalists and DEI practitioners meld the two fields in all of their endeavors. However, there is mutual benefit from learning about and including DEI content and intercultural theory and practice in the work that each of us does.

    Bridging is a work in progress. We are still figuring it out. It is heartening to me to see so many SIETAR USA members involved in that effort. Only good things can come from this passion.

    Sandra M. Fowler

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