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

  • 15 Apr 2022 9:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By: Willette Neal

    As we enter April the opportunity for more conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion abound. Not in particular because it’s April, but more because there seems to be an unmistaken sense of unease floating around.  It’s as if we are all hovering around in suspense anxiously awaiting our next action.  Interculturalist and DEI Practitioners need not wait, and we need not to hover around anxiously, instead we should be leading the charge and the conversation in this very moment. Opportunities for discussion, learning and educating are appearing in droves all around us.  For instance, on a recent trip to the pharmacy I noticed something that has been of interest to me lately related to how we age.  Yes, I have been trying to increase my knowledge on ageism in the United States. Really quickly I will drop these little nuggets about ageism that I found on a display.  “Ageism refers to how we think (stereotypes), feel (prejudice) and act (discrimination) toward others or ourselves based on age (www.jp-demographic.eu).

    Now back to my pharmacy visit, while ‘waiting’ in the pharmacy I took a seat in the available seating area. Product placement was apparent from my marketing class from many years earlier.  The items on display were targeting our aging population.  I decided to try to figure out how this placement came into my view.  I had visited the pharmacy several times and never noticed this display.  What was interesting is the targeted demographic based on the items that were being displayed.  There were several pill containers, a pill splitter, a lock box for pills, a handrail, portable toilet cleaner, blood pressure monitors, plastic pill bags, CPAP cleaning machine, assisted walking devices and several other things.  Some of the items required further inspection because I wasn’t sure of their purpose. But some items I recognized immediately.  I surmised that some marketer assumed that the person utilizing the seat that I was now occupying may need some of these items. Then I noticed something else, the pharmacist was taking long periods of time to explain medication and other things to the seasoned shoppers. I thought—this company values the relationship with their seasoned shoppers (well at least at this location).  This leads to what I would like to discuss for April.  How do we know a company’s values?

    Stacy Gordon, the author of Un-bias, wrote “It has been demonstrated that when you don’t have well defined, clear values, and your employees don’t know what they are, decisions are difficult to make because employees don’t know what matters to the company.” How often have we stood in wonderment at the values of a company? Better yet how often have we stood in wonderment at the assumed values of a company? We can have some idea of what a company values based on their actions. Recently, I heard this statement from a friend, what if a company exemplified the values that they mentioned in their advertisement.  In other words, what happens when companies and organizations intentionally live by their diversity statements?  What if the actions taken by organizations were intentional in reaching their diversity, equity and inclusion goals therefore displaying the company’s values?  Core “valuing” is another way companies can link their diversity, equity, and inclusion statement to their actions.  Core valuing involves displaying the actions that motivate an organization.  What actions display a company’s seriousness about their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals? This, like most things, starts with listening to the voices of the individuals that are impacted.  Hearing from the individuals who are impacted by diversity, equity, and inclusion statements and actions.  And if these actions are being implemented correctly it should include everyone.  Everyone is impacted by these actions and statements.  There shouldn’t be anyone left out—the idea behind inclusion.

    Companies and organizations must be diligent in seeking out the unheard voice.  I have determined that the unheard voice often takes a little more work and research to identify.  This can happen for several reasons, maybe the unheard voice is afraid of repercussions, retaliation or just maybe the unheard voice haven’t noticed any intentional actions reference diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Where is the company placing the available seat similar to my pharmacy visit? Is it in a room where decisions are made or is it somewhere where decisions are being briefed after the fact?  What is the company putting on display for the unheard voice to witness?  As Interculturalist and DEI practitioners, we must be a voice for the unheard.  We need to help companies and organizations be inclusive and intentional about their efforts.  Statements are empty if they are not followed with intentional actions that are motivated by the values of the company.

    I have watched one company in particular make huge strides in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion from the outside.  They have worked on their public image, but their private image has the same barrier driven structure.  We don’t have time to hover around anxiously, while companies, organizations and individuals struggle in this space where we exist.  Resources, knowledge, and motivation are flowing within us, and we are needed at this crucial moment.  Yes, some of the conversations are difficult when we truly listen to the unheard voice.  Some of the conversations are painful and emotional but they are needed.  Our ability to impact change will depend on our ability to listen to the voices of the unheard.  Our ability to impact change will require that we add a chair where one is missing or move a chair when it’s in the wrong place.  Our ability to impact change will require linking values to actions whenever we can. 

    Let’s continue to strive to identify and respond to opportunities that require our attention.

    Willette Neal, Director

    Membership Outreach and Diversity

  • 15 Apr 2022 9:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The SIETAR USA 2022 Webinar Series continues in May with our 5th webinar
    Sensing Culture, Embodying Race: A Sensorial Approach to Intercultural Communication
    Christopher Brown and Sachi Sekimoto

    Christopher Brown and Sachi Sekimoto

    Numerous social restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic brought to us the onslaught of sensory deprivation – no more live music, friendly hugs and kisses, live audiences in sports, dining at a restaurant, and socializing without a facemask and appropriate social distance. The series of disruptions to the ways in which we interact with others revealed the foundational nature of our lived embodiment as multisensorial—we feel and sense others in this world. The pandemic has reminded us of the vulnerability of our biological bodies and the sensorial richness of our social bodies. In this session, we explore what it means to understand race and culture from sensorial perspectives. We focus on everyday experiences of felt sensations such as tactility (skin sensation) and kinesthetics (movements, rhythmic attunements) to expand our understanding of race and culture.

    Christopher Brown

    Christopher Brown, PhD. is an Acting Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities and Professor of Communication Studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He has published books chapters, encyclopedia entries, book reviews, and articles on a variety of topics focusing on discourses of white supremacy, white-male elites’ constructions of race and leadership, and phenomenology and race. His work appears in such journals as the Communication Monographs, Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, Communication Studies, Howard Journal of Communications, and Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. He is a co-author of Race and the Senses: The Felt Politics of Racial Embodiment (Routledge, 2020). 

    Sachi Sekimoto

    Sachi Sekimoto, PhD. is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication Studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato. As a native of Tokyo, Japan, who resides in the U.S., her scholarship is inspired by the experiences of traversing and adapting to multiple sensory borders and cultural paradigms. Her scholarly interests include phenomenological and sensory experiences of culture, identity, and embodiment. She has written various articles and book chapters on issues related to the embodied politics of transnational identity, the phenomenology of racialized and gendered embodiment, and intercultural communication in global contexts. She is a co-author of Race and the Senses: The Felt Politics of Racial Embodiment (Routledge, 2020) and Globalizing Intercultural Communication: A Reader (Sage, 2016).  

  • 15 Apr 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

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

    July 25-28, 2022(pre-conference 23-24 July)

    hosted at the
    Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences
    Rapperswil (close to Zurich)

    Following the 1997 Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication (SIIC) the International Academy of Intercultural Research under the leadership of Dan Landis was formed as an outgrowth of SIETAR International. The International Academy for Intercultural Research is an association of about 250 scholarly Fellows and Members focused on intercultural research in varied disciplines worldwide. IAIR’s mission is to encourage the highest quality empirical research and practice aimed at understanding the ways in which cultures interact, primarily through biennial meetings and publications, like its flagship International Journal of Intercultural Research (IJIR).

    “Grüezi mitenand!” (Swiss Greeting)

    After two years of a forced break by Covid 19 where many of our contacts took place exclusively virtually, we are looking forward to experiencing with you a "real" conference after the amazing Shanghai 2019 experience! Please join us as we come together to share the latest findings from intercultural research, to learn from each other, to discuss and to find answers to the burning questions of our time. And of course, to enjoy being together once again!

    For this purpose, we humbly invite you to come to the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil-Jona (close to Zurich), beautifully located directly on Lake Zurich with a stunning mountain view where you can let your mind flow through the clean air of the near Alps or have a swim in the lake during the conference breaks.

    While we all are optimistic at heart, we will very carefully follow the developments of the pandemic around the globe to adjust the character of the conference accordingly if needed.


  • 15 Apr 2022 5:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SIETAR World

    April 26, 2022 – SIETAR BC Videos Series: "My Perspective, My Voice" with Doris Mah. Visit SIETAR BC Events to register!

    April 26, 2022 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Leading with hope & heart for a fragile planet” with Jackie Arnold and Lydia Stevens. Visit SIETAR Europa Events to register!

    April 27, 2022 – SIETAR Deutschland Training Series: Introduction to Resilience” with Dr. Sabine Horst, Antje Gorgas and Simone Hönle from QuinteSentio. Visit SIETAR Deutschland Events to register!

    April 27, 2022 – SIETAR France WEBINAR: “Made in France et ailleurs: “In Conversation about Global Dexterity” with Andy Molinsky. Visit SIETAR France Events to register!

    April 28, 2022 – SIETAR Switzerland Culture Club: “Sustainability & Resilience” with Gundhild Hoenig and Tom Waterhouse. Visit SIETAR Switzerland Events to register!

    May 3, 2022 – SIETAR BC Videos Series: "My Perspective, My Voice" with Zahra Fazal. Visit SIETAR BC Events to register!

    May 10, 2022 – SIETAR BC Videos Series: "My Perspective, My Voice" with Jaskirat Malhi. Visit SIETAR BC Events to register!

    May 10, 2022 – SIETAR France Educational Simulation: “Global Teams Game Play Session” with Maria Todosiychuk. Visit SIETAR France Events to register!

    May 11, 2022 – SIETAR Deutschland Training Series: “Leaving personal responsibility and victimhood” with Dr. Sabine Horst, Antje Gorgas and Simone Hönle from QuinteSentio. Visit SIETAR Deutschland Events to register!

    May 13-15, 2022 – SIETAR Switzerland Congress 2022: “Interculturality for a Sustainable Future: Concepts, Tools and Initiatives for Living and Working Together Towards a Boundaryless World”. Visit SIETAR Switzerland Events to register!

    May 18-21, 2022 – SIETAR Europa Congress 2022: “Re-Thinking Interculturalism”. Visit SIETAR Europa Events to register!


    April is Celebrate Diversity Month April is Celebrate Diversity Month, started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. By celebrating differences and similarities during this month, organizers hope that people will get a deeper understanding of each other.

    Autism Awareness Month April is also Autism Awareness Month, established to raise awareness about the developmental disorder that affects children’s normal development of social and communication skills.

    April is National Volunteer Month, which was started in 1991 to encourage volunteerism at a young age. By volunteering, people can help save lives and create better environments for us all to live within. Thanking volunteers, such as volunteer fire and ambulance departments, is also an aspect of the celebration.

    National Arab American Heritage MonthApril is National Arab American Heritage Month, celebrating the heritage and culture of Arab Americans, as well as honoring contributions from Arab Americans, such as Linda Sarsour, an activist for immigrants, women, Black victims of police violence, and indigenous Americans, and Rashida Tlaib, America's first Muslim Congresswoman.

    April 2-May 2: Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, introspection, and prayer celebrated by Muslims.

    April 15-23: Passover, a 7-day holiday in the Jewish faith that honors the freeing of the Israeli slaves.

    April 16: Hanuman Jayanti, a Hindu religious festival that celebrates the birth of Hindu God Hanuman, who is immensely venerated throughout India and Nepal.

    April 17: Easter, a holiday celebrated by Christians to recognize Jesus’ return from death after the Crucifixion.

    April 22: Earth Day celebrates the planet we live on, observed internationally in more than 192 countries.

    April 21-23: Gathering of Nations, a Native American tradition, takes place when more than 500 Native tribes meet and celebrate various traditions and cultures.

    April 27-28: Yom HaShoah, Israel’s day of remembrance for the approximately 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

    April 20-May 1: The Festival of Ridvan, a holiday celebrated by those of the Bahá’í faith, commemorating the 12 days when Bahá'u'lláh, the prophet-founder, resided in a garden called Ridvan (paradise) and publicly proclaimed his mission as God’s messenger for this age.

    April 22: Earth Day promotes world peace and sustainability of the planet. Events are held globally to show support of environmental protection of the Earth.

    April 23: The Day of Silence, during which students take a daylong vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.

    April 29: Ninth Day of Ridvan, a festival of joy and unity in the Bahá’í faith to commemorate the reunification of Bahá'u'lláh’s family, and by extension the unity of the entire human family the Bahá’í faith calls for. It permeates the symbolic meaning of the Ninth Day of Ridvan.


    Asian Pacific American Heritage MonthIn the United States, the month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks on the project were Chinese immigrants.

    Older Americans Month May is Older Americans Month, established in 1963 to honor the legacies and contributions of older Americans and to support them as they enter their next stage of life.

    Jewish American Heritage Month May is Jewish American Heritage Month, which recognizes the diverse contributions of the Jewish people to American culture.

    May is Mental Health Awareness Month (or Mental Health Month), which aims to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses and reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.

    May 1: Beltane, an ancient Celtic festival celebrated on May Day, signifying the beginning of summer.

    May 3: Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. As it ends fasting, its primary event is a big meal.

    May 5: Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday commemorating the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). This day celebrates Mexican culture and heritage, including parades and mariachi music performances.

    May 7: National Day of Prayer, a day of observance in the United States when people are asked to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

    May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, a global celebration of sexual-orientation and gender diversities.

    Holidays list courtesy of: https://www.diversityresources.com/interfaith-calendar-2022/


  • 15 Apr 2022 5:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Across many cultures and traditions, spring often represents the time for celebration and renewal – and 2021 has been no different. This year, the U.S. Department of State designated April as Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). It celebrates the history, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans across all spheres of American culture. Throughout American history, Arab Americans have made many significant and positive impacts in medicine, law, business, education, technology, government, military service, arts and culture and literature. (Rivera, 2021)

    In the late 1800s, immigration to the United States from Arab countries started. According to the Migration Policy Institute, many Arab immigrants were fleeing war, persecution, and economic hardships. Currently, the largest populations of Arab American reside in California, New York, Michigan, and Illinois. (Alsharif, 2021) More than 3.5 million Arab Americans live in the United States and represent a diverse array of varying cultural and faith traditions. They trace their origins from 22 countries from northern Africa through western Asia: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. (Aleksandrova, 2021) The diverse backgrounds of Arab Americans also represent.

    For over 20 years, advocacy groups such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Arab American Institute (AAI) have been advocating to get April designated as a month to celebrate Arab Americans. (Alsharif, 2021) In 2019, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) issued a congressional resolution for NAAHM to be recognized on a national scale. (Staff, 2021) Maya Berry, executive director of the AAI, sees the recognition as a high-level opportunity to celebrate Arab American life in a visible way. (Alsharif, 2021) Throughout 2021, in support of Arab American Heritage Month and to celebrate diversity and inclusion as core American values, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs is highlighting the diversity of Americans serving in the EUR. (U.S. Department of State, 2021)

    Written by: Emily Kawasaki

    Works Cited 

  • 15 Mar 2022 5:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We are very pleased to lead off the March issue with these additional tributes to add to the collection of memories of Janet. She clearly meant a great deal to many, many people around the globe. I like to think that somehow Janet is reading these and enjoying them as much as our readers. 

    We invite those who would still like to contribute their memories to honor Janet by sending them to me (sandymfowler@outlook.com) and they will be published in future issues. Perhaps we can keep Janet with us throughout the rest of the year in an on-going tribute. Each remembrance will be added to the special issue on the SIETAR USA website so that they are all part of that tribute.

    A Career Nourished by Jane Bennett

    From Barbara F. Schaetti 3 February 2022. Contribution to The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA dedicated to Janet Bennett.

    I am honored today to recognize the life of a dearly beloved teacher and mentor who became a colleague and friend. Janet Marie Bennett. 

    Two stories...

    Six years into what became a 35-year relationship, I read Janet's now-classic and much referenced article on cultural marginality (“Cultural Marginality: Identity Issues in Intercultural Training.” Education for the Intercultural Experience. E. Michael Paige, Ed., Intercultural Press. Yarmouth, Maine. 1993.). 

    Until then, ‘marginality’ assumed challenge if not actual psychological damage. Janet considered that the term could be neutral in itself while experienced along a continuum: at one end, 'encapsulated marginality', feeling trapped by one's difference and at home nowhere, and at the other end 'constructive marginality', feeling at least somewhat at home everywhere and empowered by one's capacity to relate deeply and authentically across differences of all kinds. She was suggesting ways teachers and trainers could help foster students' development from an encapsulated to a constructive experience. 

    Her work became the inspiration for the first article I ever published, "Phoenix Rising: A Question of Cultural Identity" (Strangers at Home: Essays on the Effects of Living Overseas and Coming Home, Carolyn Smith, Ed., Aletheia Publishing. Putnam Valley, New York. 1996.). In that, I illustrated her ideas by examining my own process integrating the benefits and challenges of a globally-mobile childhood. This work in turn formed the basis of much of my consulting with international schools and international families, and ultimately of my doctoral research and dissertation. As I have talked with students and friends and colleagues since Janet’s death, this work has been referenced by more than one person as significantly important to them both personally and professionally.

    At a more recent moment in what by then had become our friendship, Janet joined me in Seattle for a Broadway touring production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. We didn't realize we were seeing not only the last performance in Seattle, but also the last performance of the whole tour. It was an amazing and joyful production. After the standing ovation, the leads stepped forward to give tribute to the tour, to the way they'd been warmly welcomed even by small-town conservative America. They invited onto the stage people who'd flown in from the New York production team for this final show, honoring each in turn. At one point one of the principals left the stage, and then returned wearing his street clothes. He took his turn inviting someone from the NY team to come up. After acknowledging how the tour had changed him professionally, he noted that it had also changed him personally: he had fallen in love. He then went down on one knee and proposed marriage to the man he'd invited onto the stage. You can imagine how the audience erupted, including Janet and me. We loved sharing that memory!

    It seems that in a 35-year relationship, two stories alone don’t cover quite enough territory. Here’s another, that stretched across more than two decades…

    In 1992, Janet invited Gordon Watanabe and me to join Jack Condon in working with the Intern (later Fellows) Program at SIIC. Sheila Ramsey took over from Jack three years later and for another three years she and Gordon and I worked together to develop a curriculum that we formally launched in 1998. We gave it the name of Personal Leadership (PL; see www.plseminars.com). 

    By its second year as core to our Intern/Fellows design, Janet began to recognize that the practice of PL was making possible a quality of intercultural practice within the Program that hadn't been there before. She became a champion of PL in the world. She incorporated it into the core MAIR (Master of Arts in Intercultural Relations) curriculum, wrote the foreword to the PL book, and recommended us to client organizations. She partnered her beloved ICI with PLSeminars, and hosted our Training of Facilitator seminars for a number of years. She invited us to teach PL in general SIIC workshop sessions (as well as ongoing in the Intern/Fellows Program) and she made sure the PL practice earned an entry in the Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence (SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, California. 1995.). Her understanding of what we were doing and why it worked so well affirmed we were standing on something solid.

    Janet and I didn’t always understand one another. She never would turn to look at power and privilege and how the racialized systems designed to reify power impact human lives and interactions. We had many a talk about that, as about so much else over the years - including something that I could never understand: her fascination with plagues and viruses, which she would read about for relaxation. 

    Janet was a central figure for much of my life. Many of my deepest adult friendships emerged out of opportunities she gave me to meet remarkable people. I would not be who I am today were it not for Janet, and the intercultural field too would be so much the poorer. I was privileged to know and love her, and to be known and loved by her.

    From Adam Komisarof, President IAIR

    Commemorating Janet Bennett

    Janet Bennett was my teacher and the co-founder of my master's program at Antioch University, as well as one of my formative mentors.  She was truly a bright light in our field, making lasting contributions in terms of impactful scholarship and innovative training methods.  She also co-created a venue—the Intercultural Communication Institute and its Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication--where so many people in the field of intercultural communication and related disciplines could find a community of like-minded individuals and grow as practitioners, researchers, and human beings.

    I will never forget Janet's indelible positive energy, warmth, and raw intelligence.  She was one of a kind, and she will truly be missed as a person and an important figure in the history and development of our field.  I hope we can remember the magic that Janet created and pass that spirit on to the next generation of intercultural communication practitioners and scholars.

    Adam Kamisarof, IAIR President

    SIETAR Japan Member
    Professor, Keio University

    From Dorothy and Hap Sermol

    Janet Marie Bennett, PhD. (1945 – 2022): Remembered

    Janet Marie Bennett, PhD., was born on the 17th of September 1945 in Chicago, IL, and died January 27, 2022, in Portland, Oregon.

    Janet dedicated her life and work to the conviction that intercultural competence is vital to our personal and professional lives and that through intercultural communication “we can honor the worldviews of others, enhance our creativity, and maximize our productivity and learning.”  Janet’s friends, students, and colleagues across the world recognized that she was very successful in her convictions. They honor her life’s accomplishments and her unquenchable ability to share her knowledge with others throughout the world.

    Her own personal education was based on her quest for intercultural knowledge:  

    • B.A., at California State University in San Francisco, with a double major in Psychology and Journalism in 1972;
    • M.A., at University of Minnesota with emphasis on Intercultural Communication in 1976.
    • Ph.D., University of Minnesota: Speech Communication with emphasis on Intercultural and Organizational Communication and Anthropology in 1985.

    Janet initiated her career goal of “honoring the worldview of others” by serving in the Peace Corps in Truk, Micronesia. Janet introduced significant educational change to many intercultural situations.  For example, while living in the San Francisco Bay Area, she hosted the Annual Intercultural Training Institute (ICI) at Stanford University. When she moved to Portland, Oregon, she brought the ICI to Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon. Her creative leadership relocated this Institute, now called the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC), to Reed College in Portland.  Subsequently, SIIC has greatly advanced the interests and careers of Interculturalists throughout the world.  

    As an educator, Janet was the Chairperson of the Liberal Arts Department at Marylhurst College, in Oregon, where she developed innovative programs for adult learners, trainers, and consultants in many intercultural areas.  She also taught courses in training and development at Portland State University.  She designed and conducted intercultural diversity training programs for current issues, including Intercultural Competence, Immigration, Humanitarianism, and Gender Studies. Her teachings, workshops and seminars influenced many cultures, countries and organizations throughout the United States, Asia and Europe.

    Janet also contributed to the intercultural field with numerous articles, publications, and especially by her editing the two volumes Sage Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence in 2015; she was very proud of this accomplishment.

    As previously stated, Janet maintained that “we can honor the worldview of others, enhance our creativity and maximize our productivity and learning.” Janet’s friends, colleagues and students across the world honor her life’s accomplishments and the knowledge she has shared with us.

    She will be sorrowfully missed.

    From Richard Harris

    She Will Always Have a Place in My Heart

    I am sure that others in this issue will justifiably praise Janet's unique and enduring academic contributions to the field of intercultural communication, but she was nothing if not multi-faceted, and I should like to celebrate here her sense of fun — an aspect of her personality that was not always evident in large settings. In informal gatherings with friends, however, she displayed a wonderful sense of humour, with a razor-sharp wit that was backed up by a wealth of cultural knowledge. She could deflate any ill-advised or pretentious comment with a gentle, wry precision that could reduce her listeners to helpless, rueful laughter, at the same time advancing their self-awareness, and I remember often being the beneficiary of such interaction!

    She was also a great lover of music, and a devoted admirer of the voice of Barbra Streisand. One of the highlights of SIIC for me every year was the opportunity to share a microphone with Janet at Thursday Karaoke as we attempted (unsuccessfully, in my case) to do some kind of justice to 'The Way We Were' or 'Don't Rain On My Parade.' After the applause (?) had died down, we would retire to a table with a glass of wine and just talk about whatever was on our minds at that time. Whenever we met at international conferences, or on her visits to Japan, we would always try to find the time for quiet conversations like this.

    Given her pre-eminence in the field, and her international reputation as a scholar and speaker, Janet was admirably unassuming and natural in her demeanour, and while I, and so many others, shall miss her as a colleague and a mentor, I shall perhaps miss her most of all as a friend. She will always have a place in my heart.

    Richard Harris, Professor of Intercultural Management

    Chukyo University, Japan



  • 15 Mar 2022 4:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Maria Martin Thacker

    At the Fall 2017 SIETAR-US conference in San Diego, one of the keynote speakers was Carlos Cortés, who had recently published a book of poetry, The Fourth Quarter. The lighthearted talk subtly urged all to find purpose in their lives. As I sat in the audience, it was as though he was speaking just to me. I was on the cusp of my life’s fourth quarter and had recently retired from teaching intercultural communication/anthropology, a career that had followed years of international academic/corporate diversity consulting and teaching. I had decided I was not going on the road again, given the constant hassle to keep an intercultural practice profitable. With my new status, my audience was drying up. Reflecting the country, the major elements of the “marketplace” also were quickly changing. There was an ever-expanding definition of inclusion as well as diversity, an emphasis on systems instead of only individual actions, and the awareness of the underlying role of White supremacy in issues of justice.

    While I was enjoying my newfound discretionary freedom from the demands of curriculum and institutional intrigue, I was casting about for a purpose, which had to be of value to myself and society, engage my mind, and build on my love of culture. I knew I wanted to stay somehow connected to the field that I had loved and embraced my whole professional life. But I needed a way to connect with the drivers of the new waves of national cultural change.

    Then I was struck by an offer I couldn’t refuse!

    I was asked to join a local interracial book club. The commitment required time, reflection, and stamina. Although I had never wanted to be part of a book club, this one was different: the members held each other accountable. Also, in this club the amount of reading required and the racial and social justice topics covered made it a serious endeavor. But membership came with a caveat. I sometimes felt pain and nausea as the book club experience challenged my family, educational, religious, and professional foundational values as a White person. As a result of the ideas read and exchanged with club members, I found a need to scrap parts of my identity and start over, rather than rest on my laurels from my previous three-quarters.

    The America that formed my understanding growing up first called itself the melting pot, with immigrants joining indigenous peoples who were always here and others brought here under duress. But that analogy assumes that all citizens wanted to become one simmering soup stirred by a white spoon. The soup gave way to the salad where all the parts were free to be themselves with a white dressing poured over to bind the parts together. But that analogy hasn’t worked either, as we see the bowl cracking apart and the parts spilling all over the table. We need to take a look under the container at the table which is wobbly and badly in need of reconstruction, and not just a new veneer. We need new materials, designs, and craftspeople. With an even closer look, we might see that the abused wood is riddled with systemic forces that are silently eating away at the strength and integrity of the structure. Our new table needs to be level and stable and fit for the challenges ahead as more and more people wish a seat at it.

    I acknowledge that my own table needs major repairs and strengthening. It is not easy to understand the structural elements as I don’t have much practice, but there is an urgency, so I am learning on the go.

    We, as intercultural practitioners, most of whom live in the United States and European Union, and are White, have always stressed the importance of embracing change. But are we willing to examine the ethnocentric educational foundation that has well served us professionally and provided a privileged, comfortable, middle-class lifestyle?

    The roots of one foundational narrative began with John Winthrop in 1630 on the Mayflower sailing into what is now Boston Harbor to announce he was there ordained by God to “build a city on the hill with eyes upon it”. As he and those who were like him understood (because of their perceived inherent superiority), they were entitled to take all the resources arrayed before them. Often overlooked when we think about the loss of indigenous lands was his role in enslaving other human beings. In 1641 Winthrop, as the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, helped to pass a law that made chattel slavery legal in North America.

    As James Baldwin professed and the book club reinforced, history is not something you only read but is lived and carried within us. As he wrote, “we owe our frame of references, identities and aspirations to it”. Over the years this revered American creation story of the Mayflower and all that came after it left out the contributions of Blacks, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian--and, frankly, all other oppressed people. The predominant Anglo upper class built their wealth on marginalized backs, creating the country we see today. America in an effort to fulfill its manifest destiny, needed to control the space no matter who was occupying it. Then private ownership of the land and the insuring exploitation could be used to benefit those who were deemed worthy by the dominant culture. The broad complex of unexamined narratives supports the government and the institutions that are held together by ropes of systemic racism. It has a cumulative effect. This has created an America where some, relative to others, are rich and others poor . . . some very rich and some very poor.

    In the 1960s a young lawyer, Dr. Derrick Bell Jr with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund won many desegregation cases in court but later in the 1970s came to question their practical impact. This led to a highly acclaimed academic legal career in the 1980s during which he convincingly argued that American racism is indelible and is tightly controlled by entwined systems based on the social construct of race. One of his many mentored students was Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, who in 1989 wrote that the many identities of the marginalized intersect to create “blind spots” in the written law as well as the historical narratives and ongoing economic systems. The genie was out of the law school bottle and became known as “critical race theory.” If Dr. Bell were alive today he would not be surprised to see portions of our White population very threatened by what this exposure of truth might mean to the White status quo. Many contemporary historians are challenging the neutrality of the law and exposing the negative impact it has on people of marginalized identities.

    I soon realized that I needed to attend to my table reconstruction. With the help of the book club, religious resources, and other antiracist groups I began to create my personal “c r t” core to make up for deficits in my education and the paucity of engagement with people different from myself. These circumstances had hampered my critical analysis of “reality.”

    It is a long process but if you want to begin such a journey, you need to start somewhere. Here is what I had to consider and the steps that I took:

    1. Do I realistically want to take a deep dive into the role of racism and my role as a beneficiary of it? It was a huge commitment: not particularly pleasant, time consuming, and uncertain where it would lead.
    2. Since the above was affirmative, I needed to find an organized intentionally inclusive group that holds its members accountable
    3. I began where I had the most curiosity about how this process of imbedded and systemic racism began and continues. Traditionally the study was a Black/White binary, but racism is everywhere and can be discovered through a geographic, ethnic, institutional or identity lens. After a while, the categories don’t matter. I allowed myself time to reflect on what I was learning.
    4. Gradually as my awareness increased, I found that I wanted to be part of an ever-enlarging array of social events where I would meet an ever-expanding circle of community members, attracted by the same interests I have. When I did this my relationships multiplied. Slowly I became more responsive and committed to social justice issues and organizations.

    If you are committed to and accept the above steps, do not let this be at the expense of your continued genuine awareness and authentic new relationships. Stay small but be effective. Each piece is important in its own way and together they build a lifechanging paradigm—a new and stronger table. Ask yourself: Is your table working for you? Is it long enough to allow a place for everyone who wants to eat there: stable enough to hold all the groups without pushing some off; level enough to withstand the objections to its integrity surely coming in the future? You and I need to not only build it for now and the challenges we face but also build it forward for the generations to come.

  • 15 Mar 2022 4:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Willette Neal

    Maria, thank you.

    Thank you for taking a very difficult step in truly trying to understand privilege and its’ benefits. As interculturalists, we are where some would deem “the crossroad.” Will we do what is necessary to address the challenging times in which we find ourselves? Or will we continue to operate in a constant state of hope wanting things to ‘go back to the way they were. That notion of returning is impossible. As I was recently reminded, the world isn’t changing—it has changed. Interculturalists are in the best place and possess a mountain of resources to address the change. It will require introspection and reflection similar to your journey Maria. But, more importantly it will require a level of commitment and bravery.

    We need voices that ring true and loud, that will not sit by silently, as we know from years of research, the levels and systems that can and will be enacted when people fear what they do not understand. This commitment may come in the form of an interracial book club. But as an interculturalist, it must also come in the way we train and teach others. Our impact and reach can go beyond what we can ever imagine. This will only work if we truly believe in the work we are doing. We can no longer address and explain intercultural interactions without including the impact that race and racism plays across the globe. It pains me to hear that interculturalist are shying away from the conversations around diversity and race because they are uncomfortable. If not us, then who? If we are not the ones to address how cultures are interacting, then who? Thanks, Maria, for being brave and committed.

    Willette Neal Willette Neal, Director
    Membership Outreach and Diversity

  • 15 Mar 2022 4:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Portions of the following are based on an interview with Tatyana Fertelmeyster and Olga Collin on March 12, 2022.

    You might notice that the title of this article does not contain the word “the.” When speaking about Ukraine Russians used to say “Na Ukraine” which translates as “On Ukraine.” You could have a friend who lived “On” Ukraine but now they would say “In” Ukraine. What is the difference? The meaning of “On Ukraine” in Russian is the equivalent of using the in English and implies that the country is at the edge and part of something else—the else being either Russia or the West. After gaining independence, Ukrainians prefer that their country is called “Ukraine.” It has its own language, its own people, its own government, its own distinct culture, its own art and music, and its own complexities.

    Ukraine has always had its own unique identity, however historically, Ukrainian territories were either a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Tsarist Russia, Austro-Hungarian Empire, or later the USSR. The etymological meaning of the word “Ukraine” is believed to come from the Old Slavic term for “borderland.” The country was considered to be inferior by Russians who interpreted the name Ukraine to mean a piece at the side of Russia. However, Ukrainians always had an independent streak. When in the end of the 18th century Tsarist Russia tried to impose the system of serfdom on Ukrainian territories it only fueled the struggle for self-determination even further. Once Ukrainians gained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, they relished the ability to decide their own fate, to determine what they wanted to be, what language to speak. Whereas once many of the people thought of themselves as Russians living in Ukraine, that is no longer the case. Their identification as Ukrainian has been strengthened by the recent Russian invasion. Internal squabbles between different cultural groups and regions (that all countries experience) have ended as the Ukrainians fight for their lives and their life as a unified country. Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times (March 1, 2022) that “Putin’s attempt to seize Ukraine appears to be predicated not just on his belief that there is no such thing as a Ukrainian nation, but also on the assumption that the Ukrainians themselves can be persuaded to consider themselves Russians.”  Putin was wrong.

    The history of Ukraine is of a complex crossroads of many ethnicities and cultures. The southern portion in particular was a major trading route throughout the centuries. The Tartars, Turks, Mongols, Poles, Germans and so many others left pieces of their cultures and themselves as they settled in and traveled through Ukraine. Olga who was born in Askania-Nova, a unique nature reserve in southern Ukraine, proudly said that in modern times, Ukraine has the reputation as the breadbasket of Europe, shipping grains to many places in Europe and beyond. It has been in the top five countries providing barley, rye, wheat, corn, potatoes, and sunflower oil. Among many implications, the recent invasion will result in a shortage of wheat and other grains in many countries around the world.

    Olga told of a pre-pandemic trip in which she and her then 11-year-old daughter went to Spain and Portugal before heading to Kyiv to visit family living there. When they arrived, her daughter observed that it seemed similar to the other European cities they had visited. Born in the United States and thoroughly American she felt very comfortable there. Indeed, the western portion of Ukraine has tended toward Western ideas and institutions. East of the Dnieper River is where people leaned more toward Russian culture. The Eastern city of Kharkiv was one of the first Ukrainian cities attacked by Putin’s forces who were surprised by the level of resistance. There is enormous complexity in the relationship between Ukraine and Russia. Ask any Russian or Ukrainian!

    Like so many countries, the two World Wars influenced Ukraine’s path in history. After World War I there was a fierce drive toward independence throughout Russian-held territories such as Ukraine, resulting ultimately in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. There may not be anyone left who experienced Hitler’s decision in World War II to detour to Kyiv on his way to Moscow, culminating in a fierce defense of that city that slowed down the German army’s progress so that they didn’t reach Moscow until the brutal winter of 1941.The devastation of Kyiv lives on in the DNA of their descendants as does the Holodomor (1932-1933), a Soviet inflicted famine in Ukraine that caused mass starvation. Tatyana reminds us of one of the largest Holocaust events outside of Europe which was the killing of more than 33,000 Ukrainian Jews in just two days that took place at Babi Yar (1941). That was surpassed only by the massacre of more than 50,000 Jews in Odessa. Putin is not after the Jews but the techniques he is using to “take back” Ukraine has parallels to what has happened in the past. He is convinced they should not be independent. Re-activization of the continual trauma is now affecting Ukrainian people throughout the world. Many Jews were driven by pogroms from Ukraine to the United States in the beginning of the 20th century, and ongoing emigration continued. These events still feel fresh to the diaspora whose parents and other family members lived those years in a war zone. Celebrations honoring the terrible human sacrifice annually take place in Ukraine.

    Tatyana commented that she is “sad for Russia but terrified for Ukraine.” The most brutal wars are civil wars and while what is happening there now isn’t a civil war there are many close connections between Ukraine and Russia. Intermarriages mean that almost everyone has family connections on both sides. In addition to family, friends from school days, colleagues from work are just part of the many personal connections between the two countries. She is also concerned that Putin is turning Russia into a Gulag. The world is effectively isolating Russia in response to Putin’s attack on Ukraine. The Russian propaganda machine is feeding uninterrupted misinformation to its people that the Ukrainians need to be protected from their “Fascist” government. Anything not approved by Putin is labeled fake news. Olga said that when her Belarussian and Russian friends in the United States call parents back home, they are reluctant to say anything for fear that their phones are tapped.

    Ukrainians found out how it feels to be free, which presages a long resistance and hopefully eventual victory. While it will remain fresh for them, there is danger that our attention to their torment will fade. Tatyana commented that the refugee situation is in a honeymoon period as we see coverage of heart-warming welcomes and caring for the over 2 million Ukrainian refugees. There is a wishful expectation that all this will be over in a few more days, but Putin will not back down. He doesn’t admit to making mistakes and he feels that he can go wherever he wants, take whatever he wants. It won’t be over soon, and refugees’ feelings of relief will soon turn into a wave of anger at what has happened to them. It is also one thing to take someone into your home for a week or two but quite different when it turns into months or years.

    We are also in a honeymoon stage, willing to pay a higher price for gas and other items. How long will that last? The whole world needs patience, but it seems in short supply at least in our polarized country. Putin may have unified Ukraine, but protesters are evidence that he is polarizing his country. E.J. Dionne Jr. asks in the Washington Post (March 9, 2022), “how long is our attention span?” We must not let Ukraine fade from our minds.

    Sandra M. Fowler, Editor

  • 15 Mar 2022 3:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From Karen Lokkesmoe, Conference Oversight Director


    We are delighted to announce that some members of the Conference Committee are returning and that we are adding some new members to the Conference Committee.

    Thorunn Bjarnadottir, M.A.

    Thorunn Bjarnadottir, M.A.“As an Icelandic-born American, I grew up in one of the smallest countries in the world and I have been attracted to ideas that help people work across cultures ever since I left my native home. SIETAR is a great place to be with people who both develop theories and those who practice this work daily. You come back from SIETAR with a renewed sense of hope for our world.

    Thorunn is an experienced cross-cultural trainer with over 20 years’ experience in cultural competency development within higher education, global leadership development, and the facilitation of the Intercultural Development Inventory, Cultural Detective, and Personal Leadership. Intercultural learning and leadership development are her passion; she never tires of teaching people to leverage cultural differences as it truly creates original and creative outcomes. She is the former Director of Intercultural Education at the University of Minnesota, International Student and Scholar Services and has prepared countless University students to work in a more interconnected global world.

    Thorunn brought all these skills and experiences to her previous work as Conference Co-Chair and her goal is to ensure the best possible conference experience for everyone this year in Omaha.

    Dr. Ferial Pearson

    Ferial Pearson from the University of Omaha has joined Thorunn Bjarnadottir on the conference leadership team as Conference Co-Chair. They both bring a great deal of experience and passion to the conference and have already begun to make arrangements to highlight aspects of Omaha for our conference attendees. They will be sharing more with you as plans develop.

    Dr. Ferial Pearson Dr. Ferial Pearson - aka Mama Beast - is a mother, activist, author, educator, speaker, poet, comedienne, cook, sourdough artist, and citizen of the world. She founded the Secret Kindness Agents Project and is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has been teaching humans of all ages for 20 years in the Omaha area. As a Kenyan Indian Muslim immigrant queer disabled woman of color, she is passionate about working towards Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Kindness. She has received national and local awards for her work in education and social justice, has authored two books, and has been featured as a speaker on the TEDx Omaha stage. Her Secret Kindness Agents Project has been featured at Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, Hallmark, Parents Magazine, Learning for Justice website and magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, and more. Her goal is to make sure you know that you are loved and that you are enough just the way you are. She lives in Omaha with her spouse, two teenagers, and two guinea pigs.

    We would like to introduce the two co-chairs of the Program Committee. The presentation program is the heart of the conference and their role is one of the most important to insure a conference that will let you leave feeling “well fed.”


    Ricardo Núñez Ricardo Núñez is a dynamic, energetic, and thought-provoking facilitator with over 20 years of experience in Global Leadership, DEIB, and High Performing Teams development. He has worked closely with individuals, teams, and organizations in North America, Latin America, Europe, and APAC region. In his corporate career, Ricardo has led teams in operations, sales, public relations, L&D, business development, and customer service in Mexico, USA, and India.

    Ricardo’s experience includes collaborating as both, a business and intercultural liaison with organizations in public and private sectors dealing with global, multicultural, and multifunctional teams. In addition, he has participated in multiple research projects focusing on understanding and raising awareness of the values, needs, and opportunities, as well as the impact of globalization on Latin American communities in the U.S. Ricardo has also developed and conducted extensive training programs for global audiences, promoting a better understanding of the Latin American culture, markets, and business practices.

    Melissa Graetz

    Melissa AB Graetz Melissa AB Graetz has been working in the intersection of culture, leadership, and project management for over five years. She is skilled at project design and management, instructional design, and finding new ways to develop innovative and creative solutions for community challenges.

    With a background in percussion music and anthropology, Melissa started her career in non-profit administration in an effort to support community engagement and education. Formerly, she was the Executive Director of Music for the Mission, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending homelessness and hunger in Central New York through music, the Campus Manager of Levine Music’s Silver Spring campus in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area, and the Deputy Director for the Corporate Social Responsibility Symposium at American University. She has worked on various projects, conferences, and events that work to bring people together through a common mission. Melissa has presented at the Society of International Education, Training and Research (SIETAR) Conference and currently is the co-program chair for the 2022 SIETAR conference.

    Melissa supported these skills and experiences through her Master’s research at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Janklow Arts Leadership Program, and American University’s School of International Service’s Social Enterprise Program.

    Most recently, Melissa has started to combine her previous experience and passion around operations, intercultural communication, diversity, equity, inclusion, social change, and leadership, with her position as the Client Engagement Manager for MSM Global Consulting through development, training, and research. Melissa is originally from Syracuse, NY, and lives in Broomfield, CO with her husband, Robert, and her two cats, and two sugar gliders!

    As Conference Co-Chairs, we are excited to welcome you to Omaha, to provide a rich and exciting experience at the conference, and to provide you with plenty of opportunities to get to know one another, eat some good food, dance, and laugh.

    Our conference chairs are pleased to take on these roles, contributing to SIETAR, and they are working for you. What do you hope for the conference? If you have any ideas regarding what you want or what you can do to help, please let them know.

    SPOTLIGHT on Omaha.

    Three Fun Facts About Omaha from VisitOmaha.com (more to come next month)!

    1. Omaha is home to one of the world’s best zoos. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is more like a biological park, dedicated to conservation around the globe and home to the world’s largest indoor desert, the world’s largest glazed geodesic dome, and North America’s largest indoor rainforest.

      North America’s largest indoor rainforest

    2. Another renowned Omaha attraction is the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Most people call him Bob. He’s a 3,000-foot bridge floating over the Missouri River linking more than 150 miles of hiking and biking trails. Bob also connects Nebraska and Iowa – in fact, standing on Bob’s state line and taking a photo is called “Bobbing.” The best part about Bob is that he Instagrams, tweets and vlogs!

      Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

    3. Omaha is a major Foodie City! It is on the forefront of the farm-to-fork movement – of course, this is farm country. In fact, the nation is taking notice of the city’s fresh fare. Omaha is home to some of the top 100 certified restaurants on the Good Food 100 List – Dante and Kitchen Table are recognized for their strong commitment to sustainable sourcing. There are many ethnic restaurants that are family-owned; anything from Ethiopian, Indian, Mediterranean, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Togolese, Chinese dim sum, and more is within a few miles of the hotel and convention center. Did you know the Reuben sandwich was invented in Omaha? We don’t care what New Yorkers say! During a late-night poker game at the Blackstone Hotel, a local grocer was asked to “ante-up” and create a new dish. The available ingredients resulted in an American menu staple.

      Tastey Dish

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


Wild Apricot theme design and development by Webbright