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  • 14 May 2020 1:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    (Published USA TODAY's April 23, 2020. by Ryan Miller. )

    A few Zoom calls for work in the morning. Logging your children into their virtual classroom around lunchtime. And a FaceTime call with your parents at the end of the day.

    As social distancing remains in effect across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, people are moving from one video call to another. But there may be an unintended effect, mental health and communications experts warn: "Zoom fatigue," or the feeling of tiredness, anxiousness or worry with yet another video call.

    "When we're on all these videos calls all day long, we're kind of chained to a screen," said Suzanne Degges-White, a licensed counselor and chair of counseling and counselor education at Northern Illinois University.

    "It's just psychologically off-putting," she said. "I've got to show up again but the thing is, we're not really showing up anywhere."

    Why are we all experiencing 'Zoom fatigue'?

    From having to focus on 15 people at once in gallery view or worrying about how you appear as you speak, a number of things may cause someone to feel anxious or worried on a video call. Any of these factors require more focus and mental energy than a face-to-face meeting might, said Vaile Wright, the American Psychological Association's director of clinical research and quality.

    "It's this pressure to really be on and be responsive," she said.

    According to Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, the platforms naturally put us in a position that is unnatural. A combination of having prolonged eye contact and having someone's enlarged face extremely close to you forces certain subconscious responses in humans.

    "Our brains have evolved to have a very intense reaction when you have a close face to you," he said.

    During normal, in-person conversations, "eye contact moves in a very intricate dance, and we're very good at it," Bailenson said. When one person looks one way, another changes where they look. A small eyebrow raise from someone at one end of the room can trigger a glance between two people on the other. But typically, we don't stare into our colleagues' eyes, up close on a computer screen, for an hour at a time.

    So much of human communication is through these nonverbal cues that can be either lost or distorted in a video conference.

    "In a way, we're closer, but we're still communicating through this weird filter, so it gets tiring to get to the real stuff through this filter," Degges-White said.

    Why do our social video calls feel stressful, too?

    While some people may be experiencing fatigue with back-to-back Webex or Teams calls, video conferencing technologies have still benefited workplaces in many ways during stay-at-home orders, Bailenson said.

    He described a conference he had set aside two work days for that ended up finishing within two-thirds of one day.

    The virtual conference format kept "the people most critical to the conversation talking," he said, and the attached chat box feature on most video calls also helped narrow people's focus and keep a written record.

    For video calls with old friends or virtual family reunions, the forced structure can create different challenges though.

    "A lot of us are thinking, I want social stuff to be fun and having to be locked in front of this computer ... it's just not how I want to be spending my time," Bailenson said.

    Degges-White described it creating a structure to conversation like email. One person speaks and everyone takes their turn and waits to reply.

    "That's not normally the way we do social interactions," she said. "It's not that easy give and take." Side conversations are lost. Some people who are naturally reserved may never get a word in. Others may get distracted by people in their house.

    The context of this happening during the coronavirus pandemic can't be lost either, Wright said. We're worried about loved ones but apart from them physically.

    How do you combat the 'Zoom fatigue'?

    Not every video call actually needs to be a video call.

    "Be thoughtful about how you're using Zoom calls," Wright added. "You probably don't need video chat for all your work."

    She also suggested taking breaks, if possible, in between calls and creating a separate physical space where you take work video calls and personal video calls.

    Bailenson suggested asking to set ground rules before a call: "It may be awkward for 10 seconds, but say, 'Can we just go audio only?'"

    He said for some meetings he's in now, only the person speaking has their video on. And at least for one meeting a week with his team, he says they all keep video on the entire time to have that shared sense of being together.

    If you're uncomfortable with how you look on camera, it's worth spending time adjusting your settings and trying different lighting in your house, Bailenson added.

    If you notice one person not very responsive or always turning their video off, check in with them one on one, Degges-White suggested. The large video conference can be intimidating, whether it's work or personal, and some people don't like to speak up in large groups.

    "Don't expect these Zoom group to replace other ways you communicate with people," she said.

    Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

  • 14 May 2020 1:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jefferson Graham, USA Today APR 11, 2020

    We all want the same things in life.

    We want to look great, be safe, happy, and might I add, look great?

    In our new normal of the COVID-19 era, many of us have turned to the webcam and video meetings in place of school, work conferences, and many of us are spending our days on video conferences hosted by Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, WebEx and the like.

    And many of you are probably looking into the picture window at yourself and saying, "Really? I look that bad?"

    It doesn't have to be that way. We checked in with Florida photographer Larry Becker, who just wrote a book about how to improve our appearance called "Great on Camera," for some insights.


    Start with the basics. Comb your hair, shave your face or apply your makeup and think strategically about your clothing. Wearing a really busy plaid or patterned outfit will make the viewers' eyes go numb. A plain, solid color will help bring out the best you. However, Becker says to steer clear of shirts that are bright white or dark black because they look like a "blob" on camera.


    Here's where most people fail in web conferences. They have what Becker calls "Shady Face," that is, half of their face is shaded or blocked in some way. He recommends having one steady lamp, directly by your face, for even, steady lighting. No sidelight or backlight, please, he adds. He suggests, as we have several times, to avoid sitting with your back to the window, as the camera will expose for the light and make you into a silhouette. Instead, flip it, and face the window, which will give you soft, people-pleasing light.


    You want people focusing on your face, not on what's behind you. Many people like to be photographed in front of a bookshelf, but Becker says sometimes the "trinkets" on the shelf will cause distractions. He likes it "plain and simple," like blank walls, or a wall with nothing but one piece of art hanging. Becker photographs himself in front of bricks, which he calls "boring" and thus non-distracting.


    Here's the biggest no-no. Get rid of what he calls "wide-angle face." The cameras on smartphones and webcams are wide-angle. So if you get too close to it, you will look distorted. In other words, step back from the camera. "The closer you are to a wide-angle, the more distorted you are."

    Eye Level

    Don't have the webcam looking up at you, because that will turn you into "Look up my nostrils dude." Let's put it this way. The camera under the face is the oldest unflattering look in the books. It's what director James Whale did in the original 1931 "Frankenstein" movie to make the monster look more menacing. Some people recommend having the camera look down at you, but Becker doesn't buy it. "Eye to eye contact is the best connection." Look at that camera directly, straight ahead. How to do that when the webcam is physically below your eye? Stack a bunch of books under your laptop until you see the webcam eye to eye.


    While we just told you to step away and not be so close, don't be so far away that the microphone won't hear you. Remember to put the kids and other sound distractions in another room during your meeting, if you can. And, this is a huge one: Don't forget to mute the microphone when listening. Otherwise, everybody gets to hear you typing away. For improved audio, Becker recommends using an accessory mic, which will make you sound way better. You can pick up a microphone that plugs into the USB port of your laptop for $99 and up (we like the Rode NT-USB mic as a starter) or, even better, for $20, he recommends a small lapel mic, the Movo LV1, that connects directly into the microphone jack of your laptop. In Zoom, you can go into general settings and adjust the audio, to pick your accessory mic instead of the mic from the webcam.

    Finally, we wrote earlier about the great webcam shortage of 2020. Many people have discovered that if they're going to be on Zoom and other video conferences all day, they want to look their best. Laptop webcams are ultra low-resolution, and for $100 to $200, you can get way better specs, and more presentable with a separate webcam. Sad to report that the situation hasn't gotten any better. Logitech, which dominates webcam manufacturing, is still sold out of all of its products. The Brio, which broadcasts in 4K resolution and normally sells for $199, is sold out on Amazon except from third-party resellers, who are asking $359 and up. On eBay, bids are starting in the $275 to $350 range.

    What to do? Try one of the classified sites, like Craigslist, Letgo or Facebook Marketplace for a used, reasonably priced model, or pull that old DSLR out of the closet and connect it to the computer to use instead. This is way more complicated than using a webcam, but a software site like eCamm is compatible. YouTuber Adrian Salisbury has a tutorial on how-to here.

  • 14 May 2020 1:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    May 15, 2020 – SIETAR USA WEBINAR: “Becoming American: How Prominent Immigrant Women Cracked the US-American Culture Code” with Dr. Fiona Citkin, award-winning author and international interculturalist. Visit SIETAR USA May Webinar to register!

May 20, 2020 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Dealing with Accent, Identity and Culture When Using English as a Lingua Franca in International Business” with Katrin Lichterfeld. Visit SIETAR Europa May Webinar to register!

    October 7-11, 2020 – SIETAR USA National Conference: SIETAR USA is going Virtual! The national conference planned for these dates in Omaha, NE will be a virtual event! Stay tuned for details.


    May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in 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.

    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.

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

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

    May 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, a day set aside by the United Nations as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together in harmony.

    May 25: Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday established to honor military veterans who died in wars fought by American forces.


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

    June 14: Flag Day in the United States, observed to celebrate the history and symbolism of the American flag.

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

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

  • 17 Apr 2020 8:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Sandra M. Fowler

    I am sure you are tired of hearing that what we are going through is unprecedented. But at least during our lifetimes—it is. What can Intercultural and DEI professionals do to help? With the spread of COVID19 there have been an increasing number of reports of stereotyping, harassment, and bullying of people perceived to be Asian.

    According to the American Psychological Association “decades of research show discrimination is associated with poorer health and mental health among LGBTQ, Asian American, African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Muslim American and Latinx populations. Stigmatized groups are particularly vulnerable during epidemics and pandemics—and it can put them and others at increased risk.” This is at least in part because stigma can lead people to hide symptoms to avoid discrimination and isolation. It can also result in physical harm to individuals.

    Stigma and xenophobia are subjects that our professions know about and work to mitigate. The World Health Organization recommends that in addition to working toward containing the virus we work to counter the contagion of bias and stigma. There are several steps that we as Intercultural and Diversity and Inclusion professionals can consider and apply wherever we can.

    1. Communicate the Facts: Lack of accurate information make people more susceptible to biases and stereotypes. Culturally appropriate communication in multiple forms and languages is needed to reach segments of the population who need to hear that marginalized communities are suffering as we all are.

    2. Support Social Influencers: Support individuals who can model appropriate communication and denounce efforts to link epidemics with specific geographic areas and populations.

    3. Capture Stories of Recovery: Most people recover from the virus and it can be reassuring to hear their experiences, particularly when these individuals reflect the diversity of our communities.

    4. PR Materials: Diverse communities working together to reduce risk is a powerful message of solidarity but an outsized focus on Asian Americans in the case of COVID19 can be harmful.

    5. Ethical Journalism: As news consumers we should do our part to insist on responsible media reports that emphasize prevention, symptoms to look for, and when to seek care.

    6. Correct Myths, Rumors, and Stereotypes: It’s all right to speak up to those whose language promotes bias. We know how to do this and it is our responsibility to correct stigmatizing communication and to challenge myths.

    Just as we know to wash our hands and maintain appropriate social distance, we can promote embracing and valuing diverse people and communities. We can start with ourselves.

    Sandra M. Fowler

    President SIETAR USA

  • 17 Apr 2020 8:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month BookMarks celebrates two firsts: our first guest reviewer—may there be many more—and our first review of a movie (may there be more of those as well). Our sincere thanks to Mari Alexander.

    The Insult, is a movie directed by Zaid Doueiri that came out in 2017 about a personal conflict that occurs in the context of prejudice among Christian Lebanese against Palestinian refugees.  The movie takes place in Beirut where Tony, (Adel Karam) a Lebanese auto mechanic and Yassar (Kamel E Basha) a Palestinian refugee and construction foreman get into an altercation that goes awry.   Yassar is sent to fix Tony’s leaky, illegal drain pipe on his balcony.  Tony hears Yassar’s accent and becomes vengeful, impulsively destroying the newly repaired pipe which provokes Yassar to call him a “f…ing pr—k”.    Tony, in turn, even though he provoked the altercation, demands an apology from Yassar. 

    These men have similarities, both are decent, hard-working, and dedicated men who protect their family, their community and their honor at all costs.  They value dignity more than common sense and see humiliation as the greatest threat to it.  They also have differences in their right to belong in Lebanon; Yassar as a refugee living in a camp feels his security is uncertain and Tony as a business owner doesn’t question it.  While they both lived through Lebanon’s civil war, experiencing trauma and loss, they were on opposite sides that continue to simmer politically, today.

    They hate each other before they ever meet because of the stereotypes they each hold of the other. Tony, a member of the Lebanese Christian party attended political rallies revering Bachir Gemayel, the Christian militia leader.  The ideology he listens to lays blame on Palestinians for the demise of Beirut.

    Later when Yasser went to apologize to Tony he was taken aback by the anti-Palestinian rhetoric blaring from the garage.  Tony saw him hesitate and then spewed out his wish that all Palestinians had been wiped out in the war.   This humiliation incensed Yassar, his honor was threatened just as Tony’s had been and he punched Tony, breaking two ribs, and walked away without apologizing.  Their cultural values threatened by their uninformed biases took charge of them both.

    Tony took Yassar to court requesting an apology but the judge determined that both men were at fault and neither owed anything to the other.  Tony couldn’t let go. and then, after his wife bore their first child prematurely, he sued Yassar again.  This time for his family’s pain and suffering from the insult and premature birth that Tony blamed on Yassar.

    They each had representation in the higher court.  To add to the story the lawyers turn out to be father and daughter opposing each other in a world where female lawyers are deemed less capable.  The media gets involved and shortly riots erupted outside the courthouse depicting the two opposing factions: Lebanese and Palestinians.  The resentment between the Palestinians and the Lebanese residue from the war that ended in 1990.  Though the fighting had ceased the pain from the suffering had not gone away.  In the courtroom the lawyers brought up witnesses, stories and footage of how each of these two men experienced the war as children. Both sides offered justifications for denigrating the other group to the point that at times the Lebanese complaints about Palestinians remind us of the irrational blame placed on Jews by Germans in Nazi times. 

    Neither of the two men truly intended for their struggle to escalate as it did but neither knew how to shift it without relinquishing their honor and the honor of their communities.  While we revisit the atrocities of the Lebanese civil war, we are also reminded that the biases founded in those times are no longer accurate or relevant to what is happening now.  What is palpable is the deep-seated resentment and hatred that lives in the clutch of stereotypes and biases not grown from personal experience in present day. 

    Both men held implicit memories of trauma and hardship in their bodies but neither understood how these created biases that guide their lives.  Both men defined the other by a single stereotype – their ethnicity – creating stories about them without knowledge of them.   They didn’t know who each other at all. 

    Both men were provoked by bias that was embedded from trauma…the bias was further given power through our brain that is always scanning for danger.  When our brains get a signal, often from our guts, that there is eminent danger we go into protection mode, our perceptual field is narrowed and we have less to draw from to ascertain what is real.  The more we can become aware of our own personal histories and our biases the more we can allow room, a pause, to decipher if indeed there is reason to protect in any given moment. 

    Bias and culture make a strong mix to guide us but it skips the step of relationship and discernment.  While, in the end, this movie suggests that we can choose to reject bias in the effort to achieve peace it also illustrates the power and impact of stereotypes and how if we create relationship instead of holding to a single label we could enjoy a world of connection and understanding. 

    I won’t reveal the ending of the film as I hope you will see it for yourself.  A gesture of “good-will” and a final nod of understanding. See for yourself.

    Mari Alexander, LMFT
    Intercultural Trainer and Coach

  • 17 Apr 2020 8:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Sue Shinomiya

    As of this writing, at least half the world’s population - some nearly four billion people - are on some form of stay at home orders. We are the subjects in this grand experiment of global quarantine. Will the disruption work? Will we flatten the curve? We are all moving nowhere at the same time. The slowdown in human activity is literally stabilizing the earth’s crust, causing the world to have less geological shaking known as ambient seismic noise, such as the vibrations generated by cars, trains, buses, planes and people tramping on the earth. In this moment of quiet, the geologists can detect the earth’s smaller quakes.

    The Pandemic of 2020 has been like a slow-moving tsunami, all of us rising with it, navigating in our little self-quarantined boats. We live with both the trepidation that the world has become dangerously too close together, and the hopefulness that we can beat this virus if we act in unison. Our entwined fate, our Oneness, is hard to escape.

    What is Oneness? According to Google, Oneness is the fact or state of being unified or whole, though comprised of two or more parts. Without the diversity of at least two, there can be no Oneness. The opposite of Oneness is polarization and otherness.

    In the world of science, Oneness means that everything that exists is one whole, and that the apparent independence of objects, events and processes is illusory. Consider life at the subatomic level. Our molecules are swirling around within us. Looking at the matter-to-space ratio in an atom, what we consist of is nearly all space, all energy. Every day that my set of molecules holds together is nothing short of a miracle! In that space and energy between us lies Oneness. It gives me comfort and calm.

    “What would happen if everyone truly believed everything is one?” This 2018 article in Scientific American documents the research of Social Scientists Kate Diebels and Mark Leary, who wanted to determine if a Oneness mindset could be described as a culture. They created a 6-item “Belief in Oneness” scale to measure this phenomenon. Those who scored higher on this scale were much more likely to have an identity of inclusiveness, extending beyond the individual and encompassing wider aspects of humankind, life, nature, and even the cosmos.  

    As Interculturalists and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion professionals, students, teachers and proponents, how are we rising to the occasion in this pandemic? After all, we are the ones already familiar with disruption, and with tolerance of ambiguity. We are facilitators of life transitions and transformative learning, and we are masters at connecting across distances and differences. Through my limited window of social media and emails, I have been in awe to see all the ways that my friends and colleagues have been upping our game, jumping right in, with on-line solutions, learning opportunities and leadership, including multicultural emergency response, leading in a crisis, connecting with virtual teams, building cultures of inclusion while physically distanced, wellness and slowing down, interfaith collaboration, organizing volunteers, the basics of Zoom - just to name a few! In this crisis, we are generously offering our know-how, healing, bridging, connectedness and inspiration. We may be far apart right now, but I see you, and I’m cheering for all of us.

    Pause for a moment, breathe deeply, and contemplate your Oneness with the world. How are we each staying whole? Who have we been in this pandemic? What aspects of this era and this pause do we want to make permanent?  What type of world do we want to see on the other side of this? This could be our chance to shape the narrative towards a more intentionally connected and inclusive world - our Oneness moment.

    Most of us have heard the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” and it’s more updated and inclusive cousin, The Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would prefer to have done to themselves.” I’d like to offer one more rule inspired by the great astrophysicist Carl Sagan and original host of the TV show “Cosmos”. When the first photo of earth from the edges of our solar system was sent back to earth, he gave his famous talk on the Pale Blue Dot:

    “There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” (C. Sagan)

    Let me introduce what I call The Pale Blue Dot Rule: “Everything you do to others; you do to yourself.” While we cannot control word events or the virus, we can control our actions towards one another and towards our planet. We can create a positive ripple effect, just by doing good, being kind and lighting the way.

    We are all one.

    Sue ShinomiyaMs. Shinomiya, a 20-year member and formerly on the Board of Directors of SIETAR USA, runs Global Business Passport. She is a consultant, facilitator, author, Ikigai (purpose-finding) coach and leading Interculturalist, who inspires global professionals to connect, respect, lead and succeed across cultures, distance and differences.

  • 17 Apr 2020 8:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As with other organizations around the world, SIETAR USA Board of Directors is closely following the conditions and restrictions for public meetings. The safety and well-being of our membership and conference attendees is of vital concern as we consider whether or not we should proceed or if we may need to postpone or reformat the 2020 National Conference.  

    At this time, considering both the vital need for our work and the rather hefty penalties for cancelling, we are continuing to plan for the conference as though it will be held in October 2020 in Omaha.  We encourage you all to save the date, plan to attend, and submit proposals.  Should we later need to change our format or change the dates of the conference you will be advised and provided guidance to reformat your presentations. You would also be able to withdraw your proposal without penalty at that time if the new time or format does not work for you.  However, we do strongly urge you to consider participating in the conference at this time. As always, our presenters are critical to the success of the conference!

    With all the turmoil and stress involved in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a great need for global diversity work in our communities in the United States and internationally.  We truly are all in this together and just as viruses recognize no borders, ethnicities, or racial and personal identities our work must continue to be pan-national and inclusive as well.

    We will keep you all informed as things progress and look forward to connecting with you all at the conference.

    Karen Lokkesmoe

    SIETAR USA Board of Directors

    Conference Oversight

  • 17 Apr 2020 8:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Offered to you by Mari Alexander

    Below are some basic issues we are all dealing with during these times along with ideas of how to deal with them.   The intent is to calm our nervous systems and restore our balance.

    1. Predictability allows us to plan and anticipate our days and right now there is a lot we just don’t know.  Our lives are not predictable.  So:

    • Make a schedule: when you’ll get up and ease into the day with a mindfulness practice (meditation, yoga, Qigong, journaling, drawing etc.)  Get dressed!
    • Set when you’ll eat your meals, and what activities you’ll do
    • Sunday evenings look at the week and create a plan for the week.
    • Your plans will give you something to look forward to doing in specific time frames.

    2. Find ways to activate your body – Moving your body helps you physically & emotionally!

    • Live Streaming fitness, dance, yoga, tai chi, NIA, Zumba classes.
    • Walks, runs, skipping, bicycling, dancing, hopscotch – gardening . . .

    3. Connection – We are meant to be collective – and wired for connection! 

    • We need to be seen, to be heard and paid attention to and engaged with others. 
    • Create ways to connect daily with people you are close with:  live stream gatherings, make or eat meals with other people in their kitchens doing the same; story-telling, read books aloud to another, make music (sing-alongs or jams) together with friends …virtually. Feel the joys of seeing others’ expressions, hearing their responses; share tears and laughter with your friends and family.

    4. Check in with yourself periodically during the day.  Take note: are you numb inside?  Is your body contracted, your breathing shallow …get to know the difference between being present with yourself and being numb.  Numbness isn’t selective: all of you gets numb making connection with yourself and others difficult. 

    Mindfulness can be grounding and bring you back to yourself.   Breathing is one way: breathing into your belly, holding your breath for a few counts then emptying your belly of the air– holding and doing it again for 10 breaths, following your breath with your minds’ eye.  A few minutes of this can ground you and bring you back to yourself (to being present).  Can also sit on a bouncing ball, gently rhythmically counting the bounces; choose a color and count how often it shows up in your home listen to music and count the rhythm…: all create mindfulness and presence.

    5. Time can feel like it’s standing still:  uncertainty in the future skews our sense of time.  Having a schedule with definite things you will be doing each day and week will help put time back in view for us.  Having sense of time is comforting.

    6. Sense of safety can feel threatened.  Notice what makes you feel calm and include it in your day.  Touch is vitally important.  People you’re with or animals in your home can be very consoling.  If you’re alone, get the sense of touch inside your own body: remember times when you have been held, cuddled, touched:  visualize those times and remember the sensation of that touch in your body,  

    Privacy is also an aspect of safety.  Identify a place where you can withdraw from others and be with yourself.  Journal how you’re feeling and know that you may have an array of feelings surfacing at the same time…some fears right alongside feelings of faith and comfort that you and yours will be alright.  Let all your feelings be there: one doesn’t have to take over for other feelings.

    Media:  Social Media can consume you just as the news can.  You probably will stay abreast of all you need to in 5-15 minutes of news a day.  Best not to look at news first thing in the morning or last thing at night.  Put your phone away so you can be present with yourself as it can easily hijack you.

    7. Who are you during this period of unpredictability and changes in time and priorities?  What is your purpose during this time?  Remember that this is temporary.  Remember that your purpose lives on inside you and you will have the opportunity to live it.  Remember experiences that you have lived already that have felt purposeful and resonated with your value and your desires.  Picture those experiences in your minds’ eye and feel your heart open and your body relax into the memories.  You are the person who is experiencing this now AND you’re the person who has experienced many other things in your life. All are you. 

    By Mari Alexander, SIETAR USA member.                  April 5, 2020

  • 17 Apr 2020 8:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SIETAR USA members in good standing will be featured in The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA from time to time in articles based on an interview. You can self-nominate or suggest someone you think is an interesting person you’d like to know more about. Send your suggestions to info@sietarusa.org.

    April 2020 marks the 1-year anniversary of the publication of her recent book, so it is fitting that we are highlighting Fiona Citkin. We are all familiar with the advice to writers that they should write about what they know. Fiona did just that in How They Made It in America: Success Stories and Strategies of Immigrant Women: from Isabel Allende to Ivana Trump, to Fashion Designer Natori, Plus More. Rarely when you are living something, do you have much perspective on the process or the experience. And yet, Arianna Huffington, an immigrant herself, told Fiona about the importance of describing how immigrant women do in America—so that “those who come after us will have support.”

                In her 25 years in the United States, Fiona had reached a point in her life when she knew she had something to say to immigrant—and other—women about becoming successful in America. But how did she reach that point? She had a successful academic career in her native Ukraine: earned two doctorate degrees and reached the position of full professor and chair of the English Department at the Uzhgorod National University. After publishing Terminology and Translation, she was frequently invited to speak in European universities, which introduced her to the quality of life in the West. As a result, she wanted for her daughter Helen to “grow up in a country where she could fulfil her potential through her own efforts—not because of bribery, conformism, or her parents’ connections.”  When a Fulbright Scholarship she had applied for was granted, Fiona started research at Kent State University in Ohio. After being selected as a lead interpreter for 3 Russian-American Artificial Intelligence conferences, she realized that whatever you learn is not wasted—it makes you prepared for the next step. This realization made her more confident about reframing her experience, and when her husband obtained work in New York, she followed him—and her academic career became history. But she never looked back.

                In her first year in America, Fiona felt like she was walking in the dark not knowing where to step. She decided to try something different: she used the PR skills she learned on the job at CSI (Complex Systems, Inc.). These led to Director positions at Berlitz and then FGI, a Toronto-based company. All these moves were possible because she was well-prepared with her managerial, multicultural and multi-language competencies and Fiona accumulated enough experience to start her own intercultural consulting, to train and coach for global multinationals. You can see a pattern emerging of her willingness to try something new, something that was a stretch, something that would prepare her even better for what might come next. She said, “do not be afraid to put yourself in difficult situations, for it builds your character.”

                In 2011, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) published Fiona’s first book in America: Transformational Diversity: Why and How Intercultural Competencies Can Help Organization to Survive and Thrive. Rooted in her consulting practice, the book became popular with corporate Diversity Directors. Still, Fiona knew she could do more, something for a broader audience and for a bigger impact. After Arianna Huffington invited her to cover the hot topics of immigration and women for the Huffpost blogs, the idea struck her to write a book based on the immigrant women experiences. She interviewed and researched over 100 prominent women. Her interviews were conducted in a conversational style with many follow-up contacts, supported by research and an extensive 18-page Questionnaire. The initial write-up of the stories of selected women had over 700 pages. She had to tighten that up too, and the resulting book is 288 pages in which she met her goal: scores of immigrant women as well as native-born can now benefit from the accumulated know-how of her subjects.

                As Fiona analyzed her material, she looked for shared patterns, and distilled 7 success values, such as Character Building; Communication Skills and Creativity; Perseverance, etc. The last part of her book, which she called “The Achiever’s Handbook” includes her success takeaways. Her empirical analysis of the experiences of successful immigrant women led her to recommend strategies such as mapping opportunities, developing open-mindedness and creativity, tapping into your passion, turning differences into assets.

                When asked what her own greatest insight was from writing the book she said it was that her data confirmed her instincts. Hearing the women’s stories, she realized that character building is the key and it happens step by step throughout your life. And it is perhaps her own greatest strength.

                You can visit Fiona at http://fionacitkin.com/. You can also access her ideas and join in a conversation on her soon-to-go-live video-blog (available live and on her YouTube channel, called WWW Bridge (meaning WomenWorldWide Bridge).

    Portions of this article are based on an interview with Fiona Citkin as well as her book.

    Join Fiona Citkin for the 2020 May Webinar

  • 17 Apr 2020 7:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Editor’s Note: This is a new feature that will appear from time to time. Many SIETAR USA members are doing more cooking as we are staying home during the time of the pandemic. As would be expected, recipes and/or cooking utensils often derive our international inclinations. In this case the Tangine (originally from Morocco) lends an international touch to an American staple: stew. Please consider submitting one of your favorite recipes with a picture of how it should look.

    Turkey Stew (COVID Comfort Cooking)

    By Chris Cartwright

    Turkey Stew (COVID Comfort Cooking) I made this after going to the grocery store & finding most shelves bare. The whole turkeys were still well stocked & the shock of Pandemic caused me to want a warm stew, comfort food. This is an exercise in patience, revisiting my early training in SLOW Cooking. I’m in no rush to put a meal on the table in minutes, & by chunking the work down into separate, definable tasks, I can make the stew in stages over 2-3 days. The flavor is rich and simple. This is NOT a traditional Moroccan recipe … I wanted a simple dish we could savor for many days.

    I used a large Moroccan Tagine because I own one. For those of you with ties to ICI, you might know that Christmas was a special holiday there, esp. for our Director, Janet Bennett; my Tagine was a present from her.


    1 Whole Turkey (@8-10 lbs)
    2 Onions
    1 Bunch Carrots
    1 Head Celery
    2 Cups Chopped Boiling Potatoes (4-6 depending in size, Red or Yukon gold)
    3 Bay Leaves
    1 Tbs Dried Sage (or 3 leaves fresh)
    2 Tsp Salt
    1 Tsp Whole Black Pepper corns  (we substitute with Paprika as my wife doesn’t eat black pepper)
    12 Cups Water
    1 Cup Chopped Greens (Flatleaf Parsley, or Sorrel, or Arugula, or Romaine leaves, etc)

    Step 1: Make the Stock (1-2 days before you plan to serve the Stew)

    Cut the backbone/spine out of the Turkey (I find partially thawed bird easier to handle). Start at either side of the neck/upper back with a cleaver & cut down through to the tail. Hips/low back may take some wiggling of the cleaver to get through. Repeat on the other side of the spine. (Some people clip the last section/pointed tip of the wing & add it to the stock, I like to eat it & don’t add it to my stock)

    Place the back & any parts from the Turkey cavity (neck, heart, livers, giblets, etc.) in a large Dutch Oven, or slow cooker that can hold all of the ingredients (@ 8 Quart). Put the remaining Turkey back in the refrigerator.


    12 cups of water
    1 Tsp. salt
    2 bay leaves,
    the sage
    1 Onion, quartered
    Tops & ends of the Carrots (@ 1 inch from both ends)
    Tops & bottoms of the Celery head (@ 1 inch from both ends)
    The ends of whatever green you are using (parsley stems, end of Romaine or Sorrel, etc.)

    Place remaining vegetables back in the refrigerator)

    Cover pot & set for 9 hours (overnight) is using slow cooker. If using Dutch Oven, bring to boil on stove top, place in a low over (2500) & leave overnight. If making on Stove top, bring to boil, then turn down to simmer & leave for 3 hours.

    When Stock is cooked through:
    Using tongs, remove Turkey parts to a platter & let cool to room temperature.
    Pour Stock through a colander into a large pot or bowl
    Press cooked vegetables with the back of a large spoon to render all of their juices. Discard cooked vegetables.
    Pour stock through fine sieve to remove floating veg or meat.
    Set aside 5 cups for the Stew.
    Freeze remaining stock, (I use 2 cup freezer bags; just the right size for most recipes & they stack nicely in the freezer)

    Once Turkey is cool enough to handle:
    Pick meat off bones & reserve for Turkey salad or Pot Pie.
    Reserve skin & fatty bits to cook down for Schmaltz
    Cooked organs are good for pet treats

    Step 2: Make Stew (The day or even the day before you plan to serve it)

    NOTE: I used a large Tagine because I own one, but a large Dutch Over, or covered casserole dish is fine.

    Cut Turkey into parts (2 each, breasts, thighs, legs, & wings)
    Freeze ½ of the turkey for later (1 each breast, thigh, leg, & wing)
    Chop (into bite sized pieces) remaining Onion
    Place 2-thirds of the Onion in the Pot
    Lay the Turkey pieces over it
    Add remaining salt & herbs to the 5 cups stock
    Pour over the Turkey & cover pot

    If using a Tagine or Covered Casserole, place is a pre-heated 385 deg oven & lower heat to 325 deg & leave for 3 hours.If using a Dutch Oven, bring to boil on stove top, & then place into a pre-heated 325 deg oven & leave for 3 hours

    While the stew is stewing:
    Chop into 2 cups of bite sized pieces
    Pull Pot form oven at 3 hour time
    Remove Turkey parts with tongs & place on a platter
    Add chopped vegetables (plus 1/3rd cup reserved onion)
    Return to the oven for 20 minutes

    While vegetables stew:

    Put Thigh, Wing, & Leg in refrigerator for eating later (you can freeze if you like)
    Remove breast skin & again reserve for schmaltz (or snacking)
    Pull breast meat from the bones & shred.
    Discard bones
    Cut greens into ribbons (chiffonade)

    At 20 minute mark, remove stew from oven:
    Add the shredded Turkey Breast meat back in
    Stir in Greens
    Taste & adjust seasoning.
    Return to oven for @ 10-15 minutes to heat through, or turn oven down to 1750 to keep warm until you are ready to serve. (You can also cool is for serving the next day at this time too)

    Serve with crusty bread & butter & a green salad of your choice.

    Recipe provided by Chris Cartwright April 2020

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