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  • 18 Nov 2020 2:30 PM | Emily Kawasaki (Administrator)

     We on the staff of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA have had a happy accident. Inadvertently, the article for the November issue that covers the Global Storytelling evening at the recent conference had the wrong link assigned to it so that if you chose to read more, you were sent to a different article that had appeared in the October issue.

    I think of it as a happy accident because it gives me an opportunity to wish that you find a way to have an enjoyable Thanksgiving during this time of limited socializing. As Oprah Winfrey has said: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” This year of virtual celebrating is preparation for next year when we will most likely be together to celebrate with family and friends.

    A quote attributed to Tecumseh is helpful in the midst of the spike in virus cases: “When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.” It’s a reminder that we can choose how we are going to react to the current situation. We can frame our lives in a positive way no matter that we must wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from others, wash our hands a lot, avoid mingling with large groups, and other strategies for staying healthy. If nothing else, we can use Maya Angelou’s observation that: “This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.”

    American Thanksgiving is a time when it is expected that we will give thanks for our blessings. As important as they are, it’s not enough to just to say the words. We need to feel gratitude in our hearts. It has been recognized over the centuries that: “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues” (Cicero). And then it needs to be turned into action. John F Kennedy said: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

    Something I hope everyone is thankful for is the associations and connections we have with and within SIETAR USA. I know that I am! I found that over the years the friends and colleagues I know through SIETAR USA have inspired me, supported me, and made me feel that I belong. Albert Schweitzer said it this way: “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” I have found those people in SIETAR USA, and I give sincere thanks for each and every one of them.

    So, those are my thoughts and the thoughts of some well-known people on gratitude. I’d like to offer my gratitude to all the people from our global community who gave of their time to share their lives with us for a few minutes during the conference. I am so very grateful to Sue Shinomiya and Kwesi Ewoodzie—using their connections to create the Global Storytelling session—bringing people from all over the world to our conference. It was definitely a highlight of the conference! They have written an article about that experience that is a true gift. Enjoy!

    Sandra M. Fowler
    President SIETAR USA

  • 18 Nov 2020 2:28 PM | Emily Kawasaki (Administrator)

    Celebrated between mid-October and mid-November, Diwali, also known as Deepavali and Divali, is the celebrations of lights. This year, Diwali was celebrated on November 12-16. Diwali is a five-day festival, the height of which is celebrated on the third day coinciding with the darkest night of the lunar month. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance." The festival is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Newar Buddhists around the world. The main day of the festival of Diwali - the day of Lakshmi Pujan - is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia (except Sarawak), Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. The interfaith celebrations and global recognition of this celebration truly make Diwali a special holiday.

    In preparation for Diwali, celebrants clean and decorate their homes and workplaces with diyas (oil lamps) and rangolis (patterns created on the floor or the ground using materials such as colored rice, sand, quartz powder or flower petals). During Diwali, celebrants attend community parades and events, send greeting cards to relatives and loved ones, wear their best clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their offices and homes with diyas and rangoli, light fireworks, say prayers, give offerings, and perform puja (worship ceremonies for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth). An important theme of Diwali is people celebrating, preparing and cooking lots of sweets and savory snacks for the festival, and distributing them among neighbors, family and friends.

    Dhanteras marks the beginning of Diwali. It is a symbol of annual renewal, cleansing and an auspicious beginning for the next year. On Dhanteras, many people clean their homes and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune. Naraka Chaturdashi, also known as Chhoti Diwali, marks the second day of festivities. On Naraka Chaturdashi, many people decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand. Lakshmi Pujan marks the third day of festivities, which is also the height of the festival. On this day, the youngest family members usually visit their grandparents and other senior members of the community. Families gather together for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi, which is then followed by feasts and firework festivities. The fourth day of the festival marks the start of a new luni-solar year. The fourth day has many regional names, including Annakut Padwa, Goverdhan puja, Bali Pratipada, Bali Padyami, and Kartik Shukla Pratipada. On this day, the bonds of marriage and family are celebrated, and friends and relatives usually visit with gifts and best wishes for the season. Bhai Duj, also called Bhau Beej, Bhai Tilak and Bhai Phonta, marks the fifth and final day of the festival. On this day, the bond between brothers and sisters is celebrated. It is common for female family members to say prayers for the well-being of their brothers and take part in a ritual of feeding their brothers with their hands and receiving gifts.

    Diwali is also celebrated as a community. Many community groups and associations organize parades, dances and musical performances. Small business owners give gifts or special bonus payments to their employees between Dhanteras and Lakshmi Pujan. Shops usually don’t open or close early on Lakshmi Pujan to allow employees to enjoy more time with their family and loved ones.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are celebrating Diwali differently this year. One celebrant shared in an interview with CNN Travel that in lieu of meeting and celebrating together, his family have been sharing hopeful, thoughtful messages via social media group chats. He said that their conversations have revolved around how the true essence of Diwali is finding positivity in the moment, and being grateful for health and happiness. Large-scale celebrations aren't necessary; what's important is cherishing time spent with those close to you. For those celebrating Diwali, social media and video calls have been vital way of allowing people to connect with their loved ones safely. (Harris, 2020)

    Diwali is a wonderful holiday that celebrates and gives thanks for food, family, friends, community, and new beginnings. In 2021, Diwali will be celebrated on November 2–6. You can wish celebrants a happy festival with “Shubh Diwali”, which means “Happy Diwali” in Hindi. “Let’s celebrate the festival in the true sense by spreading joy and light up the world of others. Have a happy, safe, and blessed Diwali!” (Jagran English, 2020)

      Written by: Emily Kawasaki

    Works Cited

  • 18 Nov 2020 1:59 PM | Emily Kawasaki (Administrator)

    For many people who attended elementary school in the United States, the tune “In the year 1620, the pilgrims came over…” might bring back memories and conjure up images of a harmonious multicultural potluck dinner complete with roasted turkey, cranberries and mashed potatoes. Sadly, the story that is told about the first Thanksgiving leaves out an important detail, specifically the experience of the Wampanoag, the Indigenous people living in the region at that time. The unfortunate accuracy of the quote “history is written by the winners” has deprived Indigenous and Native peoples the opportunity to talk about their experiences and perspectives, and the profound impact that the historical events in question have had on their culture and community. In honor of Native American Heritage Month, this article hopes to dispel many of the Thanksgiving myths, tell the story from another perspective, and remind us that it is important to give thanks for honesty, empathy, sensitivity and community. Here is some of the recorded, researched and verified information to give us a deeper understanding of the historical realities:

    • The Wampanoag have lived in southeastern Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years.
    • Before 1616, the Wampanoag (“People of the First Light”) were a loose confederation of several tribes that numbered 50,000 to 100,000. They occupied 69 villages scattered throughout southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. (Wikipedia)
    • Between 1616 and 1619, the Wampanoag suffered from a deadly epidemic brought by European traders. The epidemic killed thousands, up to two-thirds, of them. Many also had been captured and sold as slaves. (Schilling, 2017)
    • The "Pilgrims" were the English settlers who came to North America on the Mayflower and established the Plymouth Colony in what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts, named after the final departure port of Plymouth.
    • In 1620, the English settlers arrived on the shores of Cape Cod, in present-day Massachusetts.
    • The Wampanoag tribe encountered the English settlers when they landed in Provincetown harbor and explored the eastern coast of Cape Cod and when they continued on to Patuxet (Plymouth) to establish Plymouth Colony.
    • The Wampanoag watched the English settlers come ashore and didn’t deem them a threat because they saw women and children. The Wampanoag had seen many ships before that carried male traders and fishermen. But they had not seen women and children before. In the Wampanoag culture, men would never bring women and children into harmful situations. So, they viewed the English settlers as peaceful for that reason. (Toensing, 2017)
    • The English settlers settled in an area that was once Patuxet, a Wampanoag village, which had been abandoned in 1616 because of the deadly plague.

    • In their first encounter with the Wampanoag people, the English settlers stole from the tribe’s winter provisions.

    • Sometime between mid-September and early November in 1621, the English settlers held a three-day feast, which was considered a harvest celebration following a successful planting of maize (multicolored flint corn). (Mekouar, 2018)

    • During the feast in 1621, English settlers shot guns and cannons in celebration. The noise attracted the attention of the Wampanoag living nearby. The Wampanoag sent 90 men to investigate and find out if the English settlers were planning an attack on their village. When the Wampanoag arrived, they found out through a translator that the English settlers were merely celebrating the harvest. The Wampanoag stay nearby and observed to ensure that this explanation was indeed true. (Toensing, 2017)

    • Later on, the sachem (chief) Ousamequin offered the English settlers an entente, primarily as a way to protect the Wampanoags against their rivals, the Narragansetts. (Menjivar)

    • In 1636, an English settler was found murdered in his boat. The Pequot were blamed and the English settlers burned Pequot villages in retaliation.

    • The first official "Day of Thanksgiving" was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men. (Juul, 2014)

    • In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday. The creation of holiday with an idealistic Thanksgiving narrative was for strategic reasons, specifically as a socio-political move to try to reunite the North and the South after the Civil War and establish something to unite families who had been divided by the Civil War. (Mekouar, 2018)

    In 1970, Wampanoag leader Wamsutta Frank James was invited to give a speech at a banquet celebrating the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. At the celebration, he refused to glorify the myth that the Pilgrims had brought culture, friendship and peace to North America. He hoped to speak about the historical inaccuracy of the story and how that story perpetuated disparate realities for Native and Indigenous peoples. After reading a draft of his talking points, the dinner’s organizers decided to cancel Wamsutta’s appearance, which prompted him to start the National Day of Mourning. (United American Indians of New England, 2020)

    Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) and the local Wampanoag community have celebrated the National Day of Mourning as resistance to Thanksgiving. This annual alternative holiday is held at Plymouth Rock, MA. The National Day of Mourning coincides with the Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, which takes place on Alcatraz Island, an important Native American site. The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony is a large cultural event that has been held annually since 1975 and commemorates the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement occupation of 1969. (Nobiss, 2018) UAINE has worked tirelessly to bring greater awareness to the problems facing Native Americans today, rather than dwell on the sins of the past.

    It is understandable that Indigenous and Native people view Thanksgiving through a different lens, given their experiences of colonization, violence and oppression. However, this doesn’t mean that they lack holidays that focus on being thankful. Giving thanks is an important part of Native and Indigenous peoples’ spiritual life. Native and Indigenous people celebrate a number of festivals throughout the year, which are often linked to seasons, animals, harvesting and crops. For example, Green Corn Festivals are held in the late summer and are tied to the ripening of the corn crops.

    The takeaway is this – “We should be grateful and thankful for all that we have, but not at the expense of ignoring an entire race of people, their culture, and their history… Let us give some thought to the Native people, learn from their struggles, and embolden ourselves to stand up against racism and genocide in all forms.” (Broken Mystic) “Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. They are coming to the conclusion that, if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian, and poor and working-class white people.” (James and Munro, 1998) By taking a decolonizing approach to reflecting and talking about Thanksgiving, people can de-romanticize this holiday, reject the myths of Thanksgiving and harmful stereotypes about Native people, and engage in Native perspectives that recognize the diversity of Indigenous peoples and their contemporary presence in 21st-century America. (Wieck, 2018)

    As you celebrate Thanksgiving, here are some simple, impactful suggestions from Jackie Menjivar that you can do to celebrate Indigenous and Native cultures and help combat Native erasure:

      Written by: Emily Kawasaki

    Works Cited

  • 13 Nov 2020 3:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Everything these days seems to be Election News! Just so you know, the SIETAR USA election process has proceeded smoothly and—following the allotted petition time period—we will be able to either ratify or elect (if there is more than one candidate for the positions) the people who will serve in the two open Board positions for the next 3 years: Communications Director and Leadership Development Director.

    The transition process is moving along smoothly too. I created a Transition Checklist. Brett and I have had one and will have several more Zoom meetings to talk through the list. The presidential transition requires a lot of housekeeping like changing names on the bank accounts, changing the President’s email to the new President, etc. To the extent we can, I’d like to see all that done or well underway prior to January 1, 2021.

    As you glance through the items in this issue of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA, you will see an article I wrote on the history of SIETAR USA and IAIR (International Association of Intercultural Research), two intercultural organizations that have a close connection—or should have. Writing that article brought up for me, the significance of research to our field. We are a research-based field and it’s important to remember that whether we are educators, practitioners, intercultural, diversity or some combination, the knowledge in our tool bags comes from years of research. Whether it is Kate Berardo challenging the validity of the W-curve response to relocation, or Michele Gelfand expanding on the impact of tight and loose cultures, the basis for their theories and conclusions came from research. Just the other day, I read a research article brought to my attention by Dan Landis, Founding President of IAIR, on the generalization of the intergroup contact hypothesis. Based on a taxonomy of responses, they concluded that intergroup contact is up to the challenge of moving “beyond prejudice” but the field must embrace a broader conceptualization of what constitutes success in contact as well as expanding the range of outcomes. In any case, SIETAR USA has some excellent researchers among our membership and they continue to present at our conferences.

    Also, of note in this issue of the newsletter is the report from the annual business meeting that we held during the conference. We had over 50 people attend, which was much appreciated. The financial picture that is included in the article shows that we remain fiscally healthy. That has resulted from expanded membership, generosity of sponsors and members, and continued participation in special events like our webinars (only non-members have to pay a fee but we get several of those with each webinar) and training days with people like Thiagi.

    Please note that we have made it much easier for our readers to respond to the newsletter provocative articles, book reviews, helpful tips, menus, and the like. You can now send your comments, observations, critiques directly to editor@sietarusa.org. We welcome opinion articles as well. We will harvest the comments and publish them with the intention of getting some conversations going that will be archived in SIETAR USA’s history. For example, I thought Chris Cartwright’s article last month on Intercultural and DEI would have inspired a few comments. Emails are great but they disappear. Archives are preserved for future historians who want to know what we were all about especially during this unusual year and in the subsequent years of this century.

    Speaking of harvesting, as we plunge forward into the holiday season, it is a good time to recognize and feel grateful for all the things in our lives that are good. I am so grateful to SIETAR USA for getting me through this pandemic year of social distancing. Virtual isn’t the same as in-person, but the connections have been invaluable. SIETAR USA has enabled me to stay in touch with colleagues and friends, work with them to create a successful conference, and develop plans and projects that keep SIETAR USA thriving. None of that would have happened without the help of the best possible Board of Directors, Administrative Officer, and Advisory Council. My gratitude extends to the conference chair and the conference committee, to the members I heard from over the year, and to the teams I’ve work with: the Editorial Team and the Webinar Team. We’ve accomplished a lot together. And together is the key word!

    Sandra M. Fowler
    President SIETAR USA

  • 13 Nov 2020 3:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Throughout most of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, if you were professionally involved in intercultural work and looking for connections with like-minded colleagues there was SIETAR International. If diversity was your focus, there was a small group of people focused on diversity issues within SIETAR, but at that time, it was a marginal component of the Society. The DEI group has grown considerably in the recent decade, but that’s a story for another time. Many of the early members of SIETAR were college professors involved in both teaching and intercultural research, so the research arm of SIETAR was larger than the other two groups combined. That has not been the case for many years. The impetus for many intercultural researchers migrating from SIETAR to join IAIR went like this…

    In those days, groups or individuals who were interested in hosting a SIETAR conference submitted proposals to SIETAR’s Governing Council. The GC would deliberate at the annual conference and make a decision regarding which proposal to accept for the following year. It happened one year that Dan Landis (a social psychologist very much engaged with equal opportunity issues) proposed that the next conference be held in Oxford, Mississippi on his campus at the University of Mississippi—Ole Miss. His beautifully prepared proposal to host the conference was accepted by the Governing Council and announced to the participants at the conference.

    Dan immediately left the conference and returned to Mississippi to inform the faculty, deans etc. at Ole Miss that their campus would be hosting an international conference the following year. In the meantime, a serious—sometimes heated—conversation began at the SIETAR International conference. Mississippi and the University in particular, were known to be a hotbed of racial discrimination. Holding a SIETAR International conference at Ole Miss became a contentious issue. Protests broke out in the hotel hallways and ballroom, with the outcome being an agreement to hold a town hall meeting that very day for everyone to be able to speak their mind, followed by a vote of the participants to decide whether to rescind the acceptance of Dan’s proposal.

    All voices were heard, and I was proud of SIETAR using such an inclusive process to determine the best outcome. An array of opinions was voiced. Some people felt that convening our conference on the campus in Oxford would be an opportunity to provide alternatives to the racist rhetoric found in the Old South. Others said that holding our SIETAR International meeting there tacitly supported the racism prevalent in the South. Some said they would not attend the conference as their way to protest the decision. Others felt it was important to check out the situation in person and suggested having a diversity themed conference.

    After several hours of discussion, a vote was held. The decision not to go to Oxford, MS prevailed. I had to call Dan and tell him what had happened—not an easy call to make. He was deeply, deeply disappointed.

    Subsequently, Dan decided to form IAIR. Was it an outgrowth of SIETAR’s decision? It did feel that way at the time, and in the beginning, the relationship between SIETAR and IAIR was distant and decidedly cool. Dan as editor of IJIR (International Journal of Intercultural Relations), which had been the official journal of SIETAR International, kept the journal and moved it with him to IAIR. Most of the researchers in SIETAR did indeed leave to join IAIR. Some, such as Janet Bennett, remained members of both organizations. Suddenly the practitioners in SIETAR International were a clear majority and ever since, trainers/consultants/coaches have remained the largest group within SIETAR USA.

    Despite some members in common, there have been limited connections between the two organizations throughout the past 25 years. That has changed slightly; for example, Dan was named and accepted the honorary chair of the research track at the SIETAR USA conference in San Diego in 2017. We cooperate to inform each membership about our respective conferences. IAIR announces SIETAR USA conferences, as we do theirs. When a known figure in the intercultural field dies, we share obituary information.

    The associations differ in several distinct ways. IAIR, being international, has members from all over the world. The SIETAR USA membership is primarily (but not exclusively) from the United States. IAIR has educational and experience membership requirements, whereas SIETAR USA asks only that members ascribe to our mission and goals. SIETAR USA has a broad focus; IAIR is focused on research.

    The article in this issue by the IAIR president elect, Adam Komisarof, is one way to increase our connection with a sister organization. We have a similar goal: wanting to provide a “home” for people in the intercultural field. Disseminating information such as the IAIR Podcasts is a benefit to SIETAR USA members who might not otherwise hear about them. Likewise, the members of IAIR will be hearing about our Webinar series. Continuing to build this bridge will be a worthy goal for my term as Immediate Past President!

    Sandra M. Fowler
    President SIETAR USA

  • 13 Nov 2020 3:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The International Academy for Intercultural Research’s (IAIR) Podcast Series Has Launched!

    Adam Komisarof, PhD
    President-Elect, IAIR

    SIETAR is very close to my heart. I have been an active member of SIETAR Japan now for over 20 years. I also attended the global SIETAR Global Congress in Grenada, Spain, and have presented lectures and workshops sponsored by SIETAR France and SIETAR UK. My hope is that IAIR and SIETAR can work together to share our expertise with the world and nurture the next generation of interculturalists, whether their focus is on research, practice, or a combination of both.

    Our work as interculturalists has never been more important. Today, much of what we hold dearest is threatened: intercultural understanding and acceptance are giving way to insularity, suspicion, and even violence, with many political leaders (and wide swaths of the populations they represent) engaging in the rhetoric of xenophobia, populism, and nativism. IAIR is a professional interdisciplinary organization, established in 1997, that is dedicated to the understanding and improvement of intercultural relations through world-class social science research. As IAIR’s President-Elect, I feel a strong sense of mission to do whatever I can to share insights globally from our field in order to improve intercultural relations, minimize interpersonal conflict, and create a more peaceful world. The leadership of IAIR shares this vision, so this fall, we launched the IAIR Esteemed Speaker Podcast Series, which is open to the public for free listening through our website.

    We have already posted ten podcasts, and over the next few months, we plan to expand the collection to about 15 more or less to fifteen. I encourage you not only to enjoy them yourself, but also to share them with students and colleagues. The podcasters and the titles that have already been posted are:

    1. John Berry "How Shall We All Live Together?"
    2. Betina Szkudlarek, Selena Choo, and Eun Su Lee "Overcoming the Canvas Ceiling: Refugee Employment"
    3. Cornelius Grove "How East Asians Raise Students Who Excel" and "How East Asians Teach Students Who Excel"
    4. Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti "The Psychological Contract of Integration"
    5. Zhu Hua "Making a Stance: Intercultural Communication Research as Social Action"
    6. Claude-Hélène Mayer & Elisabeth Vanderheiden "The Bright and the Dark Side of Shame: Transforming Shame in Cultural Contexts"
    7. David Sam "Shades of Multiculturalism"
    8. Adam Komisarof "What Does It Take to Become 'One of Us'? National Identity and Inclusion (Part One)"
    9. Chan-Hoong Leong "What Does It Take to Become 'One of Us'? How Recipient Culture Shapes National Identity and Inclusion (Part Two)"
    10. Deborah Cai “Comparing Transitive and Intransitive Social Networks: Implications for Cross-Cultural Relationships”

    As you can see, the podcasts address a broad variety of topics, perspectives, and methodologies. Some are more theory-driven, while others focus upon intercultural practice, and we have tried to gather a corpus of recordings that target a variety of audiences from the general public to academics. The podcasts (along with abstracts summarizing the content and presenter profiles) can be accessed at this URL, with no restrictions upon sharing them with the general public (under the "Publications" tab on the IAIR main website):


    Also, while you are on IAIR’s website, consider joining the organization! Since its establishment, IAIR has provided an interdisciplinary venue to promote and encourage research, theory, and practice in the field of intercultural relations. The Academy strives to disseminate information and encourage interchange that spans a wide range of academic disciplines, from anthropology, communication, education, management, psychology and other areas in the social sciences primarily through biennial meetings, scholarly interaction, and publications like our flagship journal, the International Journal of Intercultural Relations (IJIR).

    We welcome PhD students or professionals with doctoral degrees or equivalent scholarly accomplishments. Benefits of joining include a subscription to IJIR as well as access to our listserv and vibrant community of interculturalists. We host biennial conferences, which are friendly, warm affairs yet boast world-class research—a special combination. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our 2021 conference has been postponed to July 2022, where we hope you will join us in Rapperswil, Switzerland (near Zurich). To learn more about IAIR or access the podcast series (or any of our other website-based resources), visit us at: www.intercultural-academy.net. Or you are welcome to contact me at komisarof.adam@gmail.com. I encourage everyone to continue making invaluable contributions as interculturalists both globally and locally in these challenging times, and if you need sustenance to nurture you, listen today to an IAIR podcast that inspires you.

  • 13 Nov 2020 3:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Mindful International Manager: How to work effectively across cultures (2nd edition) by Jeremy Comfort and Peter Franklin. Reviewed by Craig Storti

    Readers may have wondered at times about all the nervous energy emanating from this column; it jumps around a lot, landing here one month (featuring a travel book), there the next (a novel), and somewhere else altogether on yet another occasion (a film). When is he going to review an honest-to-goodness cross-cultural book, for heavens sake? Setting aside for a moment any discussion of what that phrase really means, we do recognize that at least some of our readers rely on this column to draw their attention to important titles in the intercultural field, both new and old, so they can increase their understanding of key concepts and add to their knowledge base. So, this month we’ve decided to exercise restraint and review a “normal” book (which of course only liberates us to go wild again next month). Full disclosure: I am a colleague and friend of one of the co-authors, Peter Franklin, and wrote the Foreword to the book featured here, and Peter wrote the Foreword to my book The Art of Doing Business Across Cultures).

    The Mindful International Manager The Mindful International Manager is one of my favorite cross-cultural books; indeed, if I only had the money to buy one book in our field, this would be a strong candidate. (Culture’s Consequences would be real competition.) The main reason is there’s just so much here. Granted, the title makes it sound like a business book—and it is certainly that—but it’s full of content that transcends business contexts and can be used in a variety of other circumstances.

    “There’s so much here,” we said. Fine, like what? The book touches on all the recognized and accepted cultural dichotomies—and then some; things like communication styles (numerous dimensions, such as feedback, resolving conflict); leadership styles (numerous categories); power distance; gender dynamics; time orientation; managing styles (many aspects); trust dynamics; nonverbal communication; identity; attitudes toward change; organizational culture; team dynamics; performance orientation. The list goes on. So, that’s point No. 1: You can turn to this book for useful insight no matter what your particular interest or needs might be. (There’s even a glossary of key intercultural terms.) That doesn’t mean you won’t have to turn to other books for more detailed discussions of certain topics, but a book like this is the place to start. And not just to start; with regard to leadership and management, among other topics, this is much more than a quick overview.

    Point No. 2 is the variety of ways the book engages with its numerous topics, how it presents its information. There are numerous, extremely helpful charts, diagrams, and other visuals representations of key content; 11 very specific case studies you are challenged to unpack; many great boxes with succinct tips and suggestions; the book cites/references most of the major studies in the field. In short it is an impressive blend of theory and practice, with an emphasis on the latter; you can read it to expand your understanding of our field but also to develop specific skills.

    So, what exactly is a mindful international manager, anyway? The short answer is that it’s someone who is keenly aware (mindful) of his/her values, attitudes and preferred behaviors, mindful of those values etc. of people from other cultures with whom he/she interacts, and the resulting need to negotiate key differences.

    But here’s how the authors describe it:

    Mindful international managers are aware of the threats to successful communication and of the resulting need for mindful interaction. That is to say, they focus not just on the outcome of their interaction but also on the context of communication…[which] is made up of the cultures of those communicating and of their personalities as well as the situation in which they find themselves.

    That’s a bit of a mouthful, perhaps, but not to worry: it’s all made very clear through a well-organized sequence of topics, all presented in very accessible prose that avoids jargon without dumbing down the content for the uninitiated. Whether you are a seasoned interculturalist, a rookie interculturalist, or just a normal person who needs to know this intercultural stuff for one reason or another, you will find great value in these 230 pages. (Be sure to get the 2nd edition).


    As is our custom here at BookMarks, we interviewed the co-authors and here’s what they told us.

    1. Why did you write this book?

    Jeremy: At the time, Peter and I were looking for a way to make intercultural theory relevant and helpful for practising managers. I had often found that the word 'culture' turned practising managers off. I had been helping international managers to develop a more responsive leadership style and the book forced me to put my training practice into a coherent whole.

    Peter: I wanted to relate my more theoretical knowledge and understanding of the field to Jeremy’s greater practical experience of international HR development and learn from this. Writing a book is a learning experience; writing a book with somebody whose work you appreciate more than doubles this learning.

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

    Jeremy: I wanted the reader to see the importance of holding up the mirror and understanding how their personality, culture and their ability to adapt to the situation were critical in doing business across cultures.

    Peter: That intercultural interaction is not the simple sending and receiving of information or even the encoding and decoding of messages. How can it be when the codes used may be so different? I wanted to make clear that it is a complex process of expression and construction of meaning influenced not only by culture (though that of course is key) but also by the people involved and the situation they are in.

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

    Jeremy: I still find that Edward Hall's analysis of context the most insightful of all the dimensions. Coming from a language teaching background, it struck an immediate chord with what I had been observing in the communication preferences of my trainees. Understanding our own individual and cultural preferences for high or low context communication allows us to be mindful of the enormous range of communication styles. ET and MR Hall, Understanding Cultural Differences 1990).

    Peter: Three questions here! 1) I was set off on my intercultural career in the early nineties by two books – one by the US scholar David Victor, who published International Business Communication in 1992, and the other by the British academic Richard Mead, who published Cross-Cultural Management Communication in 1990. These titles make clear my roots in the teaching of E.S.P. and especially business English. 2) But clearly the most influential for me and the one all interculturalists should be familiar with was the easy-to-read version of Hofstede’s Cultures Consequences appearing in 1994 (and subsequently in updated editions) called Cultures and Organizations. The battered state of this book on my shelves - with its spine broken and full of notes and post-its - underlines its significance in the earlier part of my career. 3) Why? Because despite justified (and unjustified) criticism and whether you buy in to it or not, Hofstede’s work has shaped beyond measure how scholars and practitioners regard work-related intercultural interaction in and among international companies and organisations.

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

    Jeremy: Reflecting on my own life I now realise the central role that culture has played. My parents lived abroad, and I was educated mainly in a boarding school in Britain. I remember, with some embarrassment, driving through central Europe when I was about 8 and pinning a British Union Jack to the window. I realise now that I wanted to assert my own cultural identity. In my career, I was based in the UK but worked across Europe and beyond and increasingly felt I had more in common with the 'foreigners' I worked with than my neighbours at home. As Brexit plays itself out this feeling of alienation with my own culture gets stronger. I sometimes feel envious of those who feel more at ease in their own home.

    Peter: Living, working and bringing up children in what was when I arrived in Germany 42 years ago an unfamiliar country and what has become a much-appreciated home.

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

    Jeremy: Curiosity and interest in other cultures has given me such pleasure. I feel that it lies at the heart of tolerance of difference and ambiguity.

    Peter: Try to be slow to judge and willing to change.

    6. 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.

    Jeremy: In some respects, it becomes more difficult to be mindful as you get older. I find myself prone to judging too quickly and being intolerant of others and their different ways of living and working. These feelings are always overcome when you get the chance to sit down and properly talk. We all need to step outside our comfort zones and interact with the incredible diversity that is around us.

    Peter: Read the work of Helen Spencer-Oatey, Bill Gudykunst, Stella Ting-Toomey and Ellen Langer.

  • 13 Nov 2020 3:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    National Native American Heritage Month is also commonly referred to as “American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”. This monthlong event celebrates the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and acknowledges the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportunity to educate the general public about tribes. Heritage Month also raises the general awareness about the unique challenges that Native people have faced, both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges. (National Congress of American Indians. National Congress of American Indians, 2020)

    National Native American Heritage Month celebrates people of Native American heritage who have contributed to American society at large. SIETAR USA appreciates and applauds the SIETAR USA members who have American Indian and Alaska Native family backgrounds. They have enriched our association with their unique perspectives, ideas, and contributions derived from their cultural histories.

    One of the first proponents of an “American Indian Day” was Dr. Arthur C. Parker. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to celebrate one day for the “First Americans”, which was observed for three years. (The Library of Congress, 2018) Dr. Parker was a Seneca Indian and the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. In 1911, he, along with the Native American physician Charles A. Eastman and others, founded the Society of American Indians to help educate the public about Native Americans. From 1915 to 1920, he was the editor of the society's American Indian Magazine. During the 1930s and the Great Depression, he directed the WPA-funded Indian Arts Project, which was sponsored by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. In 1935, Parker was elected the first President of the Society for American Archaeology. In 1944, Parker helped found the National Congress of American Indians. (Wikipedia, 2020)

    In 1914, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor American Indians. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting took place in Lawrence, Kansas. During the meeting, a plan for “American Indian Day” was formally approved. The president of Congress of the American Indian Association, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, called upon the U.S. to observe “American Indian Day”. Rev. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915 that declared the second Saturday of each May as an “American Indian Day”. The proclamation also contained the first formal appeal for recognition of American Indians as U.S. citizens. On December 14, 1915, Red Fox James presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. In May 1916, the governor of New York declared the second Saturday of May as the first “American Indian Day”. Several states celebrate “American Indian Day” on the fourth Friday in September. Currently, several states have designated Columbus Day as “Native American Day”. (The Library of Congress, 2018)

    President Reagan proclaimed the week of November 23-30, 1986 as "American Indian Week." In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”, have been issued each year since 1994. (National Congress of American Indians. National Congress of American Indians, 2020)

    Emily Kawasaki, M.S.Ed. Written by: Emily Kawasaki

    Works Cited

    • “Arthur C. Parker.” Wikipedia, September 27, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_C._Parker.
    • “Native American Heritage Month.” National Congress of American Indians. National Congress of American Indians, 2020. https://www.ncai.org/initiatives/native-american-heritage-month.
    • Public Broadcasting Service. “Native American Heritage Month.” Native American Heritage Month. Public Broadcasting Service, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/specials/native-american-heritage-month/.
    • The Library of Congress. “National Native American Heritage Month.” nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov. The Library of Congress, 2018. https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/about/.
  • 13 Nov 2020 3:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This year, the SIETAR USA Conference included a cultural performance featuring Munkhbaatar Bat-Uzii and Amarbayar Menchin. The musicians were interviewed by by Ishibalijir Battulga, a national tour guide for Mongolia and skilled translator. Munkhbaatar Bat-Ulzii is a Mongolian urtyn duu (long song) singer, a State-honored Artist/Actor in Mongolia, soloist in the Mongolian Philharmonic Orchestra, researcher, scientist, scholar of Mongolian folk music, and soon-to-be-published author on the subject of Mongolian long songs. Amarbayar Renchin is a Morin khuur (Horse headed fiddle) player, researcher, scholar, and professor at a music university.


    Munkhbaatar Bat-Uzii


    Amarbayar Menchin

    These two renowned and honored Mongolian performers of traditional folk music took us on a cultural trip that was like no other. They talked about the history of Mongolian folk music. Mongolian long songs are classified as a “classic art” – the most cherished and valuable form of art in Mongolia. They were registered as an intangible cultural heritage art by UNESCO in 2005. Many researchers have studied the origins of this distinctive style of folk music. Recently, there has been some interesting research

    on the connection between Mongolian people and native North American groups based on the shared cultural traditions of throat singing. Mongolian long songs have often been compared to opera songs, since both require singers to effectively control their breathing and prolong it over the melodies. However, the most observable difference is how singers control their mouths. Opera singers vocalize with vertically-open mouths while Mongolian long song singers vocalize with horizontally-open mouths.

    In Mongolian folk music, there are two types of songs, urtyn duu (long songs) and bongino duu (short songs). The Mongolian long songs are called “long” because they have a long history and they are made up of prolonged noises with modulated sounds on vowels. They are often accompanied by the horse head fiddle or the flute. There are three categories of long songs – minor long songs, ordinary long songs, and grand/majestic long songs. Minor long songs and ordinary long songs are sung at parties, weddings, and in daily life. Grand long songs, such as the Chinggis Empire Anthem, are sung at State ceremonies or when worshipping nature. Mongolian folk music, particularly long songs, are deeply connected with the pastoral, nomadic lifestyle of Mongolian people. Interestingly, Mongolian long songs do not contain any humorous nor sorrowful lyrics. Instead, lyrics are meaningful, deep, and often contemplate the themes of life, humanity, the universe, and existence. They also tie in elements of daily life and experiences such as herding livestock and being outdoors. The long songs frequently imitate sounds, such as battle cries, blowing wind, animal calls, galloping horses etc. Mongolian long songs almost always open with reference to horses, and then move on to a philosophical topic. Mongolian long songs are also unique because songs are limited to fewer words. For example, a four-minute song might use only 10 words. So, lyrics must be chosen thoughtfully. Some long songs are forbidden from being sung at festivities since it is the song lyrics that dictate whether it is appropriate to sing a certain song and a specific event or gathering. In many cases, Mongolian long songs can be used for religious purposes, such as asking for blessings from nature or well-being in life.

    Munkhbaatar explained and demonstrated different components and techniques of Mongolian long songs, including vocals modulated from the throat, modulated vibratos, and vocals modulated from chest, which are mainly performed by male singers. He explained that the main characteristic of long song singing is to hold one’s breath as long as possible and avoid opening their open mouth wide. Munkhbaatar sang and Amarbayar accompanied him on the horse headed fiddle. They performed one of each type of Mongolian long song. For the minor long song, they performed Alia Saaral (“Sassy Silver Horse”). For the ordinary long song, they performed Khuren tolgoin suuder (“Shadow of the hill”). For the grand long song, they performed Ertnii saikhan (“Ancient Splendid”).

    Amarbayar Menchin talked about the cultural significance of the environment and horses in the lives of Mongolian nomads. To emphasize this point, he showed his horse hair fiddles, which both feature traditional carvings of horses on the scrolls, above the two tuning pegs. Another special feature of the instrument is that the bow and the two strings are all made out of horse hair. There are many different stories about the origins of the horse headed fiddle. However, what is known is that it is one of the oldest stringed instruments in the world. Many Mongolian families will display a horse headed fiddle in the most respected part of their home, even if no one in the family can play it. Customs dictates that any visitors able to play the horse headed fiddle must play it or at least tune it and place it back in the most respected part of the host’s home. In 2003, UNESCO proclaimed that the horse headed fiddle was one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Amarbayar played a popular tune, Jonon Khar (“Black Steel”), which tune ended with the strings being played so that their sound perfectly imitated the neighing of a horse. Amarbayar played several more tunes, including Builgan Shariin Yavdal (“Camel trotting”), Morin Tuvurguun (“Roaring hooves”),

    After the musical performance, Ishibalijir Battulga participated in a Q&A with Deborah Orlowski, Ph.D. During the Q&A, he shared more information on Mongolian daily life, culture, and traditions. He said that, “[In Mongolia, there is a] cultural shared love of singing. Singing is connected to the heart. [So, if one is in a] happy mood, [then] singing comes naturally.”

    This unique cultural performance was informative, insightful, and enthralling. It thoroughly demonstrated Munkhbaatar Bat-Uzii and Amarbayar Menchin’s skills and dedication to their craft as well as their respect and care for the musical history, culture, and traditions. Participants commented that the musical performance was entrancing, haunting, melancholic, beautiful, and resonate. One participant said that, “Mongolia is a deeply beautiful and spiritual place. It's one of my favorite places in the world.”

    Written by: Emily Kawasaki

  • 13 Nov 2020 11:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Global Storytelling of Cultural Resilience in the Face of COVID and the Social Justice Movement of 2020  
    a SIETAR USA 2020 Virtual Conference Event and shared Global Connectedness Moment

    Hosted by Kwesi Ewoodzie and Sue Shinomiya. October 10, 2020
    Written by Kwesi Ewoodzie and Sue Shinomiya

    In 2020, anything is possible. When it came to planning the SIETAR USA 2020 conference in a pandemic, a small group of devoted interculturalists seized upon this crisis as our opportunity. We didn’t want to just “move our conference online,” but rather to transform the experience into something special that couldn’t be done in person. Knowing that no one would be able to travel, why not instead find ways to bring the world to us? We wanted to create a sense of our community in a time when we all miss that level of connectedness. Basically, we knew the feeling we wanted to invoke but didn’t know how it would come together. The one thing we did know is we wanted to hear positive stories. As the title of the conference suggests (Moving Ahead: Learning from the Global Crisis), we have experienced (are experiencing) a global pandemic. It has touched every part of the world. We are living though world history, and unlike most events and natural disasters which have a specific geographical context, this pandemic has impacted all of us everywhere around the planet. As interculturalists, we know that although individuals from around the world may go through a singular experience, the response to that experience will wildly differ based on culture and circumstance.

    With all that in mind, we formulated a simple prompt to send out to those we wished to participate: “Could you share with us a positive story of how you (your nation, region, city, neighborhood, family, etc.) have thrived in this era of global crisis, and how is that a reflection of cultural resilience.” With that, we had established the foundations of what would become the Global Storytelling of Cultural Resilience event, a 4+ hour journey, passing through at least 18 countries, 12 time zones, with 65+ intercultural participants from around the world. This was a global collaboration reaching beyond our borders to engage, participate and connect.

    Reaching out to Participants…

    If you can’t impose on your friends, then who can you impose on? We went door to door in a global and virtual fashion to find our storytellers. We reached out to SIETARians, former Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication participants, and our intercultural friends, far and wide. The instructions were for them to use their phone cameras to record 5 – 15-minute video to tell us a story about cultural resilience. We used this as an excuse to check in and catch up with old friends, colleagues, classmates, and clients. Our concept and our guest list were rounded out with the help of Ms. Globaliscious, Patricia Malidor Coleman.

    If the generosity of interculturalist were ever in question, the response to our requests certainly affirmed it. Everyone was gracious with their time and brave enough to bulldoze ahead, making a personal video and submitting it. Interpretations of how to depict “my neighborhood” and “story of resilience” were fascinating - as varied as the countries we invited. People took the assignment to mean everything from full on mini-documentaries to someone’s wife’s smartphone clips of the neighborhood scene. We hoped for half a dozen countries to participate, and in the end, we had submissions from 18 countries! Based on feedback, it seemed that our intercultural community was eager to share these positive stories with one another. After we reached out, they stated that they were honored and grateful to be a part of our vision, and appreciative of the opportunity.

    A Few Examples…:

    One storyteller, Gladys Gu (Shanghai, China), was Sue’s client-turned-friend from when Gladys came to the United States on assignment as a semiconductor testing engineer. Sue knew that Gladys sometimes did live-streaming on Social Media of her own cooking. It was perfect that Gladys chose to film her talk with us from her homey kitchen! In the live interview, we spontaneously got to meet one of her two sons.

    Monika De Waal (Delft, The Netherlands) was an obvious choice as a deep thinking and warm-hearted human being, though we knew she was under quarantine as her family had Covid-19, and likely she did too, though with light symptoms, when she was filming her quiet neighborhood street. We shared her struggle and her gratitude for life. She truly embodied the spirit of intercultural resilience.

    Matthew Hill (Tooting, England), undeterred by a recent injury, sent out his wife to do the filming of his neighborhood, while he added his radio-perfect voice-over. As always, Matthew provided us with comic relief as he sparred with several of us on the call.

    TK McLennon (St Catharines, Canada) took us all along for her neighborhood Wine and Grape Festival, including a parade with grapes and wine decorations and costumes of all sorts, marching right past her house, joining in with the delight and shouts of her young daughter. By the end of it, all of us were greeting each other both on Chat and unmuted with “Happy Wine and Grape!”

    We were all especially grateful that Kwesi invited his colleagues Larry Lubowa (Kampala, Uganda) and James Brown (Kampala, Uganda), who brought us lively, colorful, local street footage set to delightful Coronavirus pop songs you could dance to. Moreover, our two guests willingly stayed on Zoom to talk with us live though it was well after 1:00AM in their part of the world. 

    Organizing a Global Virtual Event...

    Only true interculturalists will put up with a 4+ hour event that spanned across 12 time zones. Not only did they put up with it, but it appears, they loved it. And only with Brett Parry on hand can you expect to pull it off technically, sharing videos from his Zoom platform while simultaneously livestreaming on the SIETAR USA Facebook page, all the while chiming in with his own cultural insights and well-timed humor.

    We called on our storytellers to be understanding. We began in time zones that were 1 am (Uganda and Turkey), and midnight (England and Ghana). Some joined us at the crack of dawn (Taiwan and Pakistan). We informed them of approximately when to log on, but most came on early and stayed late to see the other country segments. Each segment gave us opportunities to ask our guests direct questions about their own cultural resilience experience.

    Meaningfully engaging those in attendance was one of our most important goals if this was to be a community-creating event, rather than a film festival. The hosts and the Zoom platform itself inspired our guests to interact more freely. People felt free to unmute and speak or use the written Chat function. As people watched the videos, they were reminded of having been there, or the scene sparked memories of another place, and how we each identify with traveling and being a part of other countries, cultures, neighborhoods and families. Our special guest host, Ms. Globaliscious (Patricia), worked with us to keep things lively, inviting people to join in, Chat, move, dance and enjoy the evening together in fun, multicultural ways. People could get a global feel - laughing, crying, and dancing together - from the safety of our own homes. It was an opportunity to share in a way that could not be done in person.

    Seeing all the activity, our storytellers and attendees alike, even those in lousy time zones, seemingly didn’t want the enjoyment of being together and learning from each other to end. It felt almost as if we, Kwesi and Sue, had been hosting in our own homes, as people wrote in Chat when it was time for them to go and thanked their hosts accordingly. By the end of the event, and after three and a half hours, we’d collected some 27 pages of chat.

    In the end we exchanged stories from Ghana, Japan, Pakistan, Uganda, Taiwan, Australia, China, Turkey, Laos, Italy, England, The Netherlands, Albania, India, The Czech Republic, Canada, Mexico, and the USA.

    The Impact of Global Storytelling…

    Our Intercultural network is based all over the world. If our goal was to create a moment of sharing, especially in this year of isolation and restricted movement, we knew we needed to reach out and gather our community in a light-hearted way that would engage on an emotional as well as a sensory level. The glorious side effect of this global collaboration was to bring people together in a way that we could not possibly do even if it were in person. It’s not usual to capture and record my story and my neighborhood and then deliver it to a global conference audience in the virtual world. We had people reuniting after many years, and many who had never had this type of intercultural world journey experience before. It can be said that friendship is about making shared memories. This event allowed us to take an authentic journey around the world, connecting meaningfully, making new and renewed friendships by creating new shared memories together.

    Feedback from our adventure participants:

    “Thank you for an incredibly rich evening full of adventure, intrigue, warmth, and global connection!“

    “This was the single best event I’ve ever gone to in any conference!”

    We had the audacity to try for a global event. We honestly didn’t know what how it would turn out and who all would show up until the day of the event, which we livestreamed via SIETAR USA’s Facebook page to be inclusive of an even wider audience. We added a whole new layer in a livestreamed, Zoom world. We plan to continue to bring these events even when we go back to face to face conferences.

    The Global Storytelling of Cultural Resilience event exceeded our expectations spectacularly. We invite you to reach out to us, Kwesi and Sue, if this project sounds like something you’d like to join or rejoin. We hope to invite many more of you to participate in the future, perhaps next time include traditions or celebrations, such as end of the year holiday celebrations of those world-wide moments that touch our hearts and bring us together.

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