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  • 13 Feb 2019 7:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Join SIETAR USA on February 26th for the Webinar
    Living Our Values: SIETAR's Living Code of Ethical Behavior

    Presenter: Kurt Nemes

    Ethics helps us determine the right action when values are in conflict.  In this 90-minute webinar, Kurt Nemes will lead a discussion using scenarios drawn from SIETAR members’ experiences with dilemmas they have faced in their work. Using SIETAR’s Living Code Of Ethical Behavior, Kurt will show how it can guide and serve us as professional interculturalists.   Participants are encouraged to submit ethical situations they may be wrestling with to the Critical Incidents site (https://www.sietarusa.org/page-1852367) in advance. There will ample time for questions and answers.  Kurt is also designing an ethics program for SEITAR and would like devote part of the session to gathering ideas and/or suggestions on how such a program would meet the needs of members.  

  • 12 Feb 2019 8:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Partner with complimentary service providers

    Depending on the cross-cultural service, you will have different partners.   If your clients are expats, here are a few partners to consider.  Contact other Cross-Cultural Consultants, Language Providers, Translation Services, Relocation Companies, Movers, Temporary Housing, EAP (Employee Assistant Programs), IEAP (International Employee Assistant Programs), Embassies, Consulates, Immigration Attorneys, Universities, and Real Estate Agents.   For my business, relocation companies have been the most beneficial partners.

    Meet with potential partners to determine their clients needs and explain the benefits of cross-cultural services.  Determine how both partners can benefit from the business relationship.  I attend local and national relocation events and conferences to develop relationships with partner companies.  For example, the ERC Employee Relocation Council hosts an annual event in the US.  Another partner for CBC has been companies who provide services (financial, taxes, payroll, HR) for businesses expanding globally.  If you can recommend your partners services to others, then both parties will succeed.

  • 11 Feb 2019 5:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)



    February is Black History month and SIETAR FL will be celebrating it with an exchange to raise the awareness of colorism across cultures and not just with African Americans.  

    Save the Date

The Black Experience in Florida

    February 21st 12:00-1:00pm Eastern Time

    Join the Virtual Dialogue:


    More about the event:

    “Racial and ethnic diversity in Florida are statistical facts, yet we are prone to overlook the significant diversity that is present WITHIN these racial and ethnic groups. Latino and Hispanic scholars have coined the term LatinX, to acknowledge and embrace the diversity and intersectional experiences and origins of the descendants of Spanish-speaking people in Florida. Until recently, however, no similar attempt has been made to highlight the diversity and intersectional experiences of the racial and ethnic groups that our labeled “Black” in our state.”

    SIETAR Tri-state (NY-NJ-CT)

    SIETAR Tri-state (NY-NJ-CT) is a local group of SIETAR USA.  The mission of SIETAR-USA is to promote and facilitate intercultural education, training and research through professional interchange.  SIETAR Tri-state strives to connect anyone interested in the intercultural field in the tri-state area through guest speakers, cultural events, and get-togethers. 

    We are in the process of recruiting members as well as planning our first meeting for February of 2019.  Please email us at sietartristate@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list. We would also appreciate your suggestions for programs and activities you are interested in attending.

  • 11 Feb 2019 5:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I just got back from China where I conducted workshops on designing training games in different locations for 10 days. I also consulted with game designers for 5 days. My recent experience confirmed what I learned from facilitating game design workshops in 26 different countries around the world: Playing games is a human universal. We are all homo ludens.

    I have conducted training activities that last from 3 minutes to 3 hours. With intercultural audience, brief activities work better than lengthy ones. My intercultural trainees become more engaged and learn more effectively with the type of brief training games that I call jolts.

    Jolts lull the participants into behaving in a comfortable way and deliver a powerful wake-up call. They force the participants to re-examine their assumptions and revise their standard procedures. Jolts typically last for a few minutes but provide enough insights for a lengthy debriefing.

    Here’s a sample jolt from my collection called Clock on the Ceiling:


    To explore how point-of-view determines what you see


    One or more. Even large numbers of people can simultaneously participate in this individual activity


    3 minutes for the activity. 5 to 15 minutes for debriefing.


    Ask the participants to stand up. When the participants stand, ask them to extend their right arms and point their index fingers up toward an imaginary clock on the ceiling. Then ask the participants to lower their right hands below shoulder level by bending their elbows while still pointing their fingers to the clock on the ceiling.

    Rotate the fingers around the clock. Next, ask the participants to raise their hands above their heads again and point to the 12 o'clock position on the imaginary clock. Then ask the participants to use their fingers to circle around the clock to the 3 o'clock position, then around to the 6 o'clock position, then up to the 9 o'clock position, then back to the 12 o'clock position. When the task is complete, ask the participants to continue moving their fingers in a clockwise rotation without stopping.

    Ask participants to lower their hands. While the participants continue to circle the imaginary clock in a clockwise direction with their right index fingers, instruct them to keep their fingers pointed toward the ceiling and their eyes on their extended fingers as they circle around the clock. Instruct participants to slowly lower their hands so their index fingers (still rotating) come to a position below shoulder level.

    Point to the direction of the rotation. Ask the following question about the rotation direction: "What direction is your finger moving now, clockwise or counterclockwise?" All the participants should be looking down at their rotating fingers (in contrast to looking up at their rotating fingers earlier). All the participants should clearly see a change in the direction of rotation. You can act surprised when participants report a counterclockwise rotation of their fingers.


    A change of perspective. Ask participants why they think the change in direction of rotation occurred. Steer the discussion toward this conclusion:

    The participants' fingers actually continued rotating in the same direction after their hands were lowered. What changed was the point of view.

    Explain that when participants looked at their rotating fingers as they pointed toward the imaginary clock on the ceiling, the perspective was from the bottom up. Once the hands and rotating fingers were lowered below shoulder level, the point of view was from the top down. This change in perspective explains the perceived change in their finger rotation direction.

    How does this relate? Continue the debriefing discussion by asking participants to identify situations in which a change of perspective results in a radical change in perception.

    Learning Points

    1. Our perceptions depend on our point of view.

    2. By taking time to appreciate the power of perspective and its impact on perception, radically different understanding is possible.

  • 11 Feb 2019 5:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Chris T. Cartwright, MPA, EdD.
    Director of Intercultural Assessment,
    Intercultural Communication Institute

    • What is the right or best way to assess intercultural competence?
    • Will this assessment process work across all cultures and contexts?

    These questions pose a Koan or riddle interculturalists ponder regularly. Whether we are asked to select or prepare an executive for an international assignment, intervene with an agency challenged by unconscious or implicit bias against underrepresenting populations, or demonstrate the impact of an international education sojourn—settling on a definition and assessment plan to meet those needs can be complicated.

    Assessing intercultural competence is a complex endeavor in part because this complexity is reflected in the multiple definitions of the construct, as well as the theories these definitions are based upon. Moreover, each model has multiple assessment methods and or tools, some quantitative and others qualitative in their data collection processes. 

    But the complexity we face is appropriate. We are appraising how people can learn to effectively engage across a variety cultures and contexts (1). Each element of this definition (people, effective engagement, cultures, and contexts) can send the interculturalist through a myriad of decision-tree options with multiple assessment practices to choose from. People vary greatly in the aspects of their identity most salient for them to embody in different contexts. For example, how is ‘effective engagement framed in this initiative?

    • Leading a culturally complex team?
    • Creating an equitable and inclusive working environment?
    • Demonstrating open mindedness and empathy as a result of an international service-learning project?

    Finally, scholars have studied culture and contexts for generations and their work has revealed many contextual and cultural general as well as specific dimensions that can be considered.

    The phrase “It depends” is frequently used in the intercultural field when an opportunity or challenge is presented. That phrase opens the door for more exploration … and it buys us time to initiate the decision tree of options.

    Where should we start assessing intercultural competence?  Below are three frequent paths for assessing intercultural competence and there can and are variations of them used by many intercultural professionals. Some will assert that we need to initiate an organizational stakeholder analysis and uncover or compose a new shared definition of intercultural competence to fit the culture and context of that campus, company, or agency. Then an assessment process with new or tailored tools is created to fit this unique definition and desired outcome.

    Others balk at the time and energy required to harvest such a new definition and its associated measurement practices; they prefer to adopt an existing well-researched definition and its accompanying assessment methods. Sometimes these professionals will start with the cultural specific measure to point out cultural differences the learner should note, and some will start with a cultural general measure to point out a set of competencies, intelligences, sensitivities, and so on, that might be most effective in a new culturally complex context.

    Still others will reject even the notion of assessment, preferring a narrative or story gathering process to determine what has occurred, is occurring, or might occur, and thus what might be developed based on personal, professional, or organization goals. Whether or not a formal model or rubric is used in this final narrative process, the intercultural professional is still assessing intercultural competence; it may be in the form of an appraisal of readiness, sensitivity, humility, intelligence, or another term that best fits their practice.

    It is important to note that ‘competency’ as a construct in itself, is the interplay of cognition (knowledge), behaviors (skills), and beliefs (attitudes). So, in the intercultural realm we seek measures that can give us a perspective in all three domains. It is impossible to assess intercultural competence with a single measure and at a single moment of time; there is simply too much at play in the equation to capture this level of complexity with a single snapshot or even a brief ‘video shoot’ practice. This is why most assessment professionals recommend multiple measures over time, so they can observe and record the dynamic interaction of the headset, handset, and heartset required to navigate intercultural exchanges.

    When focusing on the learner, client, or organizational need for the type of assessment practice that is adopted, the way the data is reported is exceedingly important. For some learners, the data should be acute and direct; for others is should be more expansive and indirect. Since our assessment practice can help the learner connect their head, hands, and heart, compounding multiple types of evidence is recommended—weighting and sequencing the forms of data based on their culturally and contextually preferred orientation.

    None of these definitions, methods or assessment tools answers the two questions facing interculturalists posed above neatly or comprehensively. In every case, ‘It depends’. Fortunately, we have a rich buffet of models and methods available for the inquiry.


    (1)  Author’s own abbreviated definition of Intercultural Competence based on the hundreds he’s read.

  • 11 Feb 2019 5:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you do not want world peace skip this article.  If you do, read it.


    Great thinkers and writers have said things like: peace is every step (Thick Nhat Hanh); and be the change you wish to see (Gandhi).  To convert that wisdom into action requires help from “others”.  This means effective alliances with foundations built on phrases like:  many feathers one bird; many patches one quilt; many cultures one world; and the power of many… the spirit of one.  Getting help means asking, accepting, respecting, and valuing the helpers.  Being willing to give help can also be beneficial. What does this have to do with SIETAR USA and world peace?

                We can contribute to world peace in many ways. Start with mindsets consistent with the above paragraph. Form alliances beginning with those closest and most similar to us (e.g., family, friends and colleagues) and then expanding the circle as far as our hearts and minds can stretch (e.g., Israeli and Palestinian, right to life and right to choose).  Every time we reach out beyond ourselves we expand the potential for world peace.  SIETAR started by trying to create an alliance among educators, trainers, and researchers.  We also tried to ally with professionals under umbrellas like multicultural, cross cultural, diversity, inclusion, equity, anthropology, speech communication, and more.  We are still trying.  One barrier to success might be our difficulty in finding sufficient similarities.  A few suggestions regarding how to do this are noted below.

    1.     Catalog the things we have in common with other professionals who use different self-descriptive labels than we do.

    2.    Appreciatively ask questions about how they contribute to world peace and listen to understand without judging.

    3.    Question whether others do it better, worse, or just differently from the way we do.  Withhold judgment until first thoroughly understanding.

    Let’s walk through one example using the three questions above as we explore intercultural communication and diversity/inclusion/equity.

    A sample of characteristics both arenas share follows:

    a.     Seeking better communication and understanding among and between individuals and groups that are different (in a wide variety of ways)

    b.     Striving to understand and then reduce conflict followed by working to increase harmony and peace (ranging from tolerance to valuing)

    c.     Attempting to make perceptions more accurate and reality-based

    d.    Having educational, training, and research components

    e.    Having evidence-based techniques or methods that are unfortunately not universally adopted

    f.     Using cognitive, affective, and behavioral (head, heart and hand) methods to facilitate healthy growth and change

    g.    Guided by theoretical and conceptual models which describe the path of improvement (e.g. Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, and Multicultural Organizational Development)

    h.    Addressing context that extends beyond the individual to include group, organization, society, nation, and world

    i.      Focusing on both specific identities and general principles

    j.      Addressing awareness focused first on self and then on others

    k.    Are multi-disciplinary and intersectional

    l.      Seeing differences between individuals and groups as real.

    m.  Addressing both stereotypes and generalizations.

    n.    Seeking order without having a great deal of control.

    o.    Consistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    p.    Aligning with:  Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations)

    Differences do exist and are intentionally not emphasized in this column.

    A sample of how both arenas contribute to world peace:

                The diversity/inclusion/equity arena contributes by seeking to reduce prejudice, bias, discrimination, oppression, inequality, and the like.  Many different identity groups are addressed. Justice (corrective, remedial, restorative, and social) is also sought.  There is often comfort with protests, political and social actions, as well as addressing/confronting anger and hate. Facilitating individual and organizational change is a common skill.

                The intercultural communication arena contributes by addressing communication between, across, and among different cultures (culture often very broadly defined). The art of specifying and addressing cultural dimensions is well developed. Differences are viewed non-judgmentally and diagnosed using input from many disciplines.  There is comfort with different languages, values, and ways of being in the world. Words like “bridge” and “translate” are used frequently.

          While professionals from both of the above arenas occasionally meet in common venues and contribute selectively across both arenas, there is much more to share and learn in this budding alliance.  A small minority of professionals work successfully in both spheres. 

    Does the “other” arena make its contributions in better, worse, or simply different ways?   

    While judging after achieving a deep and thorough understanding is sometimes worthwhile, we have more work to do in order to achieve such understanding.  Therefore the question will not be answered at this time.  Further dialogue and mutual sharing are required. 

    Closing thoughts:  

                In the words of Dr. R. Roosevelt Thomas, “differences should distinguish, not divide”. 


    Dr. Robert Hayles
    Long-term SIETAR member

  • 11 Feb 2019 5:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    1.     Why did you write this book?

    I wrote Spilling the Beans as a window for Indians to see and understand the key values driving U.S. American behaviors and expectations. Much to my surprise, I have found that many of my fellow American readers have found it to be self-revealing and thought provoking.

    2.     What is the most important thing you want readers to take away from this book?

    Understanding, appreciation and insight into U.S. Americans; generally how we think, behave and our expectations of others.

    3.     Name one or two books in our field that influenced you the most, that you think all interculturalists should be familiar with? Why?

    a)    The Silent Language by Edward Hall. I have a profound respect for one of the pioneers of the field who has led the way for the rest of us to approach understanding culture and our many differences. This book was the first that spoke to me many, many years ago introducing me to the field that became my career and passion. I would heartily recommend any of the many books that he has written over the past 60 years

    b)  Survival Kit for Overseas Living by Robert Kohls. Again, a classic little book written by another interculturalist pioneer that I have recommended hundreds of times to relocating expats. This concise guide lays out a very logical method of inquiry as to how, if one is open to it, to approach, reveal, discover, and thrive with those from a culture outside of our own.

    4.     What is one of the most significant, most memorable cross-cultural experiences you have had?

    I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Iran, and thereby tossed into a living situation in a village where no one spoke English, my mother tongue. With my rudimentary knowledge of Farsi, I slowly established myself and my speaking ability to the point of enjoying a most wonderful, hospitable, and generous group of people.

    5. If you could pass on only one insight/one lesson learned to others about crossing cultures, what would you say?

    Cross into a new culture with:

    • a willingness to dare yourself to jump in,
    • a desire to lean into your hesitations,
    • the confidence to make mistakes,
    • the passion to communicate successfully.
    • (Not exactly one insight, but all vital!)

    6. Finally: This newsletter goes to nearly 1,000 readers, folks who are either in or interested in the field of intercultural communications. If you’d like to say something else to these folks, something we have not asked about in this questionnaire, feel free to add your brief comments here.

    If you are new to the field of intercultural communications or interested in jumping in, there are many graduate schools (and some undergraduate schools) which offer the necessary basic foundations for our field. Add to this your experience of totally immersing yourself into at least one culture outside of your passport culture with a passion to teach others—and you will make a difference.

  • 11 Feb 2019 5:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Spilling the Beans: A Guide for Indians to Understand and Communicate Successfully with U. S. Americans by David Sanford. Notion Press, 2018, 180 pages.

    reviewed by Craig Storti

    In our manifesto for the BookMarks column (see the January newsletter), we stated that a key criteria for any book chosen for review was that it must in one way or another be “exceptional.” In some respects, Spilling the Beans is not exceptional, at least not to seasoned interculturalists. Indeed, the author himself readily admitted to your reviewer that the intercultural content in the book is a simple, straight-forward summary of the basic concepts in the intercultural field. Nothing new.

    And that’s exactly as it should be because Spilling the Beans is not written for interculturalists or for anyone else with any knowledge of the field. It is written, rather, for lay folks—Indian lay folks to be precise—whose life or work circumstances require them to interact with Americans on a regular basis. And because that very often involves close encounters with cultural differences, Sanford has to briefly sketch a few fundamental cultural concepts in order to tee up and illustrate his thesis: If you’re going to succeed interacting with these folks from America, you need to understand how they think and why they behave the way they do.

    And that’s what makes Spilling the Beans exceptional and where it adds something important to our field. Most of the books we Americans read about other cultures are necessarily US-centric; they describe and present other cultures from an American point of view. There’s great value in that, of course, but what’s usually missing in that approach is it doesn’t help Americans understand how they are perceived from the foreign point of view. These books help us see and understand them better, in short, but they don’t typically help us see and understand ourselves better. Spilling the Beans, precisely because it is written for a non-American audience, is full of insights for Americans (and for some other northern Europeans as well), which is why it ends up getting reviewed in this column.

    What insights? Here are just a few:

    [T]he majority of American employees [have a] preference for a horizontal management structure in which most of the decisions are made in a collaborative atmosphere. [They] generally dislike situations where status and hierarchy are [emphasized] because they do not honor the value of equality.

    More explanation and verbal communication are necessary because greater importance is placed on the words spoken rather than gestures or the…context around the words. Therefore, the burden is on the sender to make the message clear [and] the burden is on the receiver to ask clarifying questions.

    Americans are taught to approach life…from the point of view of unlimited possibilities…. It is the attitude of “We have the opportunity to be first” rather than “It has never been done before”; of “It will be a challenge” versus “It cannot be done”; of “Necessity is the mother of invention” versus “We do not have the resources.”

    In the U. S. where equality is highly valued individual team members are empowered and expected to take the initiative and make decisions without interference from a team leader. They are expected to “just do it” and get the task done without managerial oversight.

    I think it was John Condon who said that the essence of intercultural competence is the ability to see others the way they see themselves and to see yourself the way others see you. A lot of books help Americans do the former, but only a few, like Spilling the Beans, help them do the latter. We need more books like this.

    And speaking of other books, your reviewer humbly begs your pardon by closing out this review with the observation that although Sanford doesn’t mention it, my own modest tome, Speaking of India, is in many ways the perfect complement to Spilling the Beans. Read Speaking and you’ll learn about Indians from an American perspective; read Spilling and you’ll learn about Americans from an Indian perspective.

  • 11 Feb 2019 5:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the newly appointed Conference Co-Chair I am honored and humbled to take up the mantle carried so ably by many before me. Luckily, that also means that there is a great pool of resources and mentors to draw upon as I move forward.  I may be calling you. 

    I am excited to announce the theme for our 2019 SIETAR USA Conference: 

    From Adversity to Diversity: The Role of the Interculturalist

    Our societies, near and far, are being challenged to address the fast-paced changes in depth and breadth of diversity we are experiencing.  Changes that leave some reeling, feeling uncertain, or perhaps even threatened, bring energy, inspiration and joy to others. The 2019 Conference will explore the Role of the Interculturalist in meeting the challenges higher levels of diversity may present to some and enhance our own as well as others’ capacity to find workable, and indeed inspiring, solutions that make our communities stronger and more resilient.  There will be three tracks that delve deeper into the roles we all play in our diverse societies as well as a general intercultural category.

    The first track: The Role of the Interculturalist: Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice will explore what the role of an interculturalist is in addressing issues such as disparities, unconscious bias, and social injustice.  Do interculturalist have a place at the table in these arenas?  Should they?  How might that be accomplished, and to what end?

    The second track: The Role of the Interculturalist Working in Culture Specific Contexts will highlight best practices and lessons learned from working with specific cultural groups.  Whether nationally with immigrants, refugees or tightly knit communities; or internationally with global teams or joint ventures, what has experience taught us about how to be most effective crossing cultural divides.  How can differences and similarities be parlayed into strengths, innovation, and flexibility? 

    The third track The Role of the Interculturalist: Building Skills and Taking them to the Marketplace will focus on the business of intercultural work.  It will explore what our communities need from us, how we develop those skills, and how we can bring them to the marketplace effectively.  Whether starting out in the field or seeking to take your business to the next level, which skills do you want to enhance?  Which do you want to share with colleagues?

    It is the mission of the SIETAR 2019 Conference to provide space, time, integrity, compassion, and empathy in enabling all participants to be heard, understood, and respected in furthering our intercultural work together. It is our goal that each participant leaves feeling enlightened, enthralled, and empowered to make a difference in their own world in moving from adversity to diversity.

    I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!

    Karen J. Lokkesmoe, PhD

    2019 SIETAR USA Conference Co-Chair

  • 11 Feb 2019 5:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In honor of Black History Month, SIETAR USA acknowledges and applauds both the accomplishments and contributions of the African American community. The goals of justice, dignity, and equity are well worth the struggle. We are reminded of Dr. King’s words, “if it’s worth fighting for, it’s a fight worth having.”  

    Black History Month has a long history dating back to 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History declared the second week in February to be “Negro History Week.” It began as an educational effort which continues to this day—an opportunity for schools and churches to inform students, community members, and parishioners about the role of African Americans in the history of the United States and the world. The week evolved into a month through an initiative begun in 1969 by Black educators and students at Kent State University. In 1976, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. While it is indeed Black History Month, it is important to recognize that Black History is American History.

    SIETAR USA takes this opportunity to celebrate Black excellence in all its forms and would especially like to acknowledge and express our appreciation for the leadership, scholarship, and support of the Black members within our association. In several important ways, SIETAR USA serves as a bridge between the intercultural field and the field of diversity, inclusion and social justice. We take that role seriously and look forward to a future of continuing dialog, exploring mutual concerns, and friendship.

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