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  • 14 May 2020 1:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The World Council on Intercultural and Global Competence is a newly established non-profit organization whose mission is connecting researchers, practitioners, educational institutions, and organizations across disciplines, languages, and countries to advance knowledge, research, and praxis of intercultural competence globally. Given that much of intercultural competence work remains quite siloed within academic disciplines and professional fields, the World Council endeavors to bridge these siloes so researchers and practitioners can learn from each other in order to further the much needed work around intercultural competence. Joining the World Council in these efforts are Founding Affiliates based in such countries as China, India, Netherlands, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, as well as in the United States and include such organizations as Global Peace Foundation, AMIDEAST, United Nations Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education For Peace and Sustainable Development and China Association for Intercultural Communication. The World Council will also feature renown Intercultural Advisors such as Craig Storti.

    With a vision to foster a foundation for intercultural understanding across individual and societal differences in pursuit of a more peaceful world, the World Council is founded on principles of global collaboration, interdisciplinarity, praxis, and engagement. One way that the World Council is living into this vision is through partnering with UNESCO on an intercultural methodology piloted in all five UNESCO regions worldwide over the past two years by UNESCO which is designed to help individuals practice intercultural competence. This methodology, based on the ancient human traditions of storytelling, can be used with any group of people, anywhere in the world, uses little to no resources and can be facilitated by those who may not have a formal background/training in intercultural communication. This UNESCO methodology was formally launched at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in December 2019 with the debut of the Manual on Developing Intercultural Competencies: Story Circles by Darla K. Deardorff. Co-published by UNESCO and Routledge (2020), the Manual is available as open access in 5 different languages (see https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000370336https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000370336). UNESCO and World Council are now piloting virtual Story Circles given the current global crisis and the hope is that this methodology will be widely used in many contexts around the world. For more on the World Council and on Story Circles, go to www.iccglobal.org.

    Guided by Founding President Darla K. Deardorff and an advisory board hailing from several countries around the world and representing such organizations as Harvard University, Aspen Institute and Qatar Foundation, the World Council looks forward to working with many in SIETAR and beyond in furthering intercultural competence research. For example, the World Council features an online publication called Intercultural Connector and invites SIETAR members to contribute articles related to intercultural competence; the next deadline is June 30. There are also informal virtual meet-ups for colleagues to connect with each other to explore mutual research interests; the next meet up is Thursday May 28. For more information and ways to get involved with the World Council, please contact Darla K. Deardorff directly at d.deardorff@duke.edu. Together, we can help bridge divides and work toward building a more peaceful world.


  • 14 May 2020 1:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After visiting 40+ countries in other parts of the world, I had the privilege of visiting East Africa in the Fall of 2019. Many of my friends on the continent had routinely said to me, “I see you’re a man of the world, but when are you going to come home?” Undoubtedly, these were the playful invitations of proud people who missed their friend. Yet, it was also the unrelenting voice in the back of my mind that told me I needed to visit my ancestral home. I felt a certain obligation that I couldn’t ignore.

    Going to Africa can feel like a homecoming for many members of the African Diaspora. But is it home? Although we are African in our collectivism, our art, our spirituality, and our genetics, many of us have also been indelibly impacted by our experience in the West. Being African American has meant coming to terms with my own sense of individualism, consumerism, and entitlement. Because of this duality and cultural assimilation, some may argue that the “African homecoming” is a fiction for a people who still feel under-appreciated in the United States. I never felt that way, but I wanted to see for myself what the environment and culture would feel like once I stepped foot on the continent.

    My trip included stops in three countries. The majority of my time would be spent in Rwanda, followed by shorter stops in Uganda and Kenya. As I flew the 20+ hours to the Rift Valley, I was more excited than I had been in a while. I also recognized that my relative discomfort in economy class could not compare to the horror that enslaved Africans felt hundreds of years ago as they made their way over the Middle Passage.

    Whereas my trips overseas had started to feel a bit routine, this one had an element of mystery to it. I asked myself numerous questions: How would it feel to see the demi-gloss of black faces around me? How would the locals react to me? Would I fit in? Would I be seen as a “brother” or a Mugunzu (a.k.a., a white foreigner)?

    In Rwanda, I was hosted by my friends and colleagues Maurice and Jeremy as part of a larger group of interculturalists. Maurice is an enterprising millennial Rwandan who survived the horrors of the Rwandan genocide. Jeremy is a British-born transplant who moved to Kigali in 2019. During my ten-day stay in Rwanda, I was able to visit the Rwandan Genocide Memorial and spend time at an orphanage village in the countryside. In Uganda, I spent time socializing with new friends and experiencing the nightlife of Kampala. In Kenya, I spent several days in the Masai Mara before connecting with colleagues amidst the buzz and humdrum of Nairobi.

    I can still see the collage of so many beautiful images in my mind: the red clay streets of Kigali…the intense traffic of Kampala…the daybreak serenity of the African savannah.

    Of course, no place on Earth is paradise, and in Africa, there are still disquieting truths. For example, Rwanda is still recovering from the torrent of violence it experienced during the genocide, a dark episode enabled by the world’s refusal to intervene. Uganda has some of the most virulent anti-LGBTQ laws on the books, and the Kenyan government is said to be overrun by corruption.

    But governments do not define a people.

    I also kept reminding myself to step away from my social conditioning. Africa is not a homogenous place; it consists of 54 countries with their own unique cultures and histories. Africa is not “exotic,” at least not to those of us who share its sensibilities. And although Africa has been exploited by world powers for centuries, Africa is not needing saviors. Africa is simply needing a reckoning, or an acknowledgement of its centrality to human existence.

    What I felt in East Africa was the acknowledgment that I had been missing. A lot of what I felt is inexplicable. In the weeks and months since I departed, I have struggled to find the words to convey what I felt. Others who have visited the continent have shared a similar experience. It felt surreal to be “seen.” In every interaction, there was never any question of whether I was human or whether I belonged. I felt socially embraced there in a way that I have strangely never felt in the United States.

    This is not to suggest that every interaction was deeply metaphysical or profound. Sometimes I was just making small talk or ordering food. But the people had a humility and grace that was unmistakable. What I felt in Africa was the capacity to be joyful in the midst of simplicity, or the capacity to be more human without the presence of a capitalistic agenda. I didn’t feel transformed as much as I felt alive in nuanced and discrete ways.

    As an example, I remember the dozens of schoolkids waving excitedly at our bus as it rattled through the hillsides in Rwanda. I wanted to bring every one of them home with me. I remember being in Kigali and laughing as the servers in a trendy restaurant told me I was the first Black person they met who didn’t eat meat. I remember being in Kampala and hearing music blaring from a nightclub that could’ve easily been in New York, Chicago, or Oakland. There was no such thing as “soul music;” there were simply rhythms that everyone could shake their hips to. I remember inviting new friends in Nairobi to visit the United States. and fielding their questions about the gun culture and whether it was a safe country to visit. Each interaction carried with it a thousand different subplots, twists, and insights. Each interaction carried with it the enduring aroma of love, laughter, and community.

    It was wonderful to have conversations that weren’t transactional. People actually wanted to talk and hear my story. People wanted to know where I was from, though many were surprised to know that I was American. I was asked questions about my family and in each conversation, I felt an openness and a mindfulness that I rarely get in the States. The Africans I met were astonished to see my clothing (bought from an African-American retailer) which bore such close resemblance to theirs. They were thrilled to see pictures of my family and friends, many of whom looked like their own relatives. They asked if African Americans thought about them. I reminded them that we are one and the same.

    The peace I felt came not in some profound moment of cultural exchange. It came from the abiding feeling that I could be myself and that in being myself, I was able to relate to everyone I encountered.

    I often think of the day when I will return to the continent. There are other countries I want to explore and other parts of myself I want to meet. Fortunately, I no longer have to deflect the questions from my African friends as to when “I’m coming home.” Now I ask myself: “How do I keep ‘home’ living inside of me?”

    Dr. Joel A. Brown, Esq., CLC.

    Dr. Joel A. Brown is the Chief Visionary Officer of Pneumos LLC, a management consulting and coaching company based in San Francisco, USA, specializing in cultural intelligence, leadership, change management, and strategic storytelling. As a change agent, Joel works strategically with organizational leaders to cultivate innovative, creative, and adaptive environments where the cultural genius of everyone can be harnessed and leveraged successfully.

    Best known for his critical analysis, creativity, humor, and his ability to build consensus, Joel has partnered with Fortune 500 Companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to help them achieve sustained growth and organizational breakthroughs. His clients have ranged from LinkedIn to the United Nations, and his “sweet spots” have included men’s leadership, LGBT inclusion, interpersonal dialogue, and intercultural communication.

    Joel is a member of several international think tanks, including D2K, the Diversity Collegium, SIETAR, and the Global Community Dialogue. He is also an Expert Panelist with the Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks. Joel is an adjunct professor at the IESEG business management school in France, and is a nationally recognized spoken word artist in the United States. Joel is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the Virginia School of Law, and received his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s College in May 2018.


  • 14 May 2020 1:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The SIETAR USA monthly webinars focus on the ongoing professional development of SUSA members. With this development lens we seek out speakers and topics representing the thought leadership within our intercultural/DEI field.  Here’s the upcoming lineup to illustrate this commitment:

    In June, Michele Gelfand, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland and a researcher of cultural norms, will discuss her book Rule Makers, Rule Breakers:  Tight and Loose Cultures and the Secret Signals That Direct Our Lives.  As interculturalists we are steeped in “dimensions”, know a number of different sets, and definitely have our favorites.  Michele’s compelling research takes us deeper into understanding the tight-loose social-coding that distinguishes much of our behavior in adhering or not adhering to cultural norms.  See if the tight-loose dimension set becomes one of your favorites.

    July’s development webinar features Justin Sitron, associate professor of human sexuality studies at Widener University sharing his prospective on interculturalism in the LGBTQI+ World Community. His interest in this field begins when teaching Spanish in public schools and realizing the need for human service professionals to better understand their students, especially their students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students from other marginalized and oppressed populations.  As a community-based human sexuality educator Justin grounds his work in diversity, inclusion and social justice and in his academic work he continues to develop sexological worldview as a construct and framework to underpin and measure the impact of his work.    

    After a short summer break, Joyce Osland starts us off in September looking at global leadership development and her research at San Jose State University as founder and Executive Director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center, a part of the SJSU business school.   Joyce’s long research career in global leadership development (emphasis on “global”) has brought her focus to the practical--what are the “crucible” experiences that produce transformational development in global leaders, what types of activities best produce these experiences and how can this all be measured and transferred into organizations.


  • 14 May 2020 1:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Are you looking to apply your professional experience, share your talents, and develop your leadership skills? Are you searching for an opportunity to give back to the SIETAR USA community and make a difference in the intercultural and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) fields?

    Joining the SIETAR USA Board of Directors is the perfect professional learning and development experience for you!

    We are currently looking for candidates with a strong background and understanding of the intercultural and/or diversity, equity and inclusion fields to serve as the SIETAR USA Professional Development Director. We invite you to read below/click here for more details about the role and to contact us with any questions at boardleadership@sietarusa.org

    Position:                      DIRECTOR

    Portfolio:                     PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    Term of Service:          January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021

    This is the completion of an existing term ending 12/31/21

    Scope of the Role

    The Professional Development Portfolio focuses on the many ways SIETAR USA can help members expand their skills and knowledge, ensuring that conferences, workshops, webinars, and other innovative seminars and programs are made available from time to time.

    The Professional Development Portfolio Director is responsible for developing and monitoring programs of information and opportunities that sustain the professional development of the membership. The Director will explore how the professional needs of the membership can be met through activities sponsored and/or supported by SIETAR USA.

    The Professional Development portfolio encompasses conference-related responsibilities, such as reviewing proposals for the SIETAR USA National Conference and other virtual events. The Director also sources speakers and coordinates logistics for the SIETAR USA webinar series.

    Portfolio Directors are not expected to do all the work alone and are strongly encouraged and supported to put together working committees to help them with the tasks under their responsibility.

    Main Responsibilities & Objectives

    • Maintains and establishes policies regarding the professional development activities of the Society as needed.
    • Assists conference leadership and the Conference Oversight Director in completing the roster of Conference Committee Members and provides input into the development of the SIETAR USA conference professional program.
    • Ensures that, for the purpose of professional development specifically relating to membership in the Society, the SIETAR USA conference includes opportunity (e.g. breakout sessions) for information and dialog around: 1. Local group development and 2. The SIETAR USA living Code of Ethical Behavior.
    • Coordinates with the Local Groups Director to source speakers, manage introductions and basic logistics of SIETAR USA monthly webinars. Webinars are an important benefit for local groups as well as the entire membership.
    • Ensures that learning events and activities are structured to build professional relationships through networking and professional contacts.
    • Works with the Leadership Development Portfolio Director to identify potential committee members, to support professional development projects and activities.
    • Acts as a liaison with the leaders of special projects and initiatives, such as the Leadership Academy and Training of Trainers Certification Program and coordinates as needed with other portfolio directors on these projects.
    • Board members must sign and abide by the Board Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest documents. As all members of the society, they are encouraged to support and sign the Living Code of Ethics.

    Time Commitment

    • Term of service: 3 years (unless noted otherwise; 3-year terms can be renewed twice)
    • Average time needed to complete work: 10-15 hours a month
    • Peak periods of work will occur in: Months leading up to the national in-person and virtual conferences.

    In addition, Board members are expected to:

    • Attend the SIETAR USA National Conference, the Annual Board Meeting (a one-day in-person meeting before or after the conference), and the Board of Directors Annual Retreat (a three-day business meeting held each year in February or March). Most costs are covered by SIETAR USA to support the participation of all Board members in these events.
    • Participate in monthly Board of Directors teleconference meetings. Portfolio Directors may have their own committee calls as needed.

    Ideal Candidate Profile

    To be successful in this role, the ideal candidate must possess the following skills, qualifications, and experience.

    Required

    In order to serve on the SIETAR USA Board of Directors, members must meet the following criteria in addition to role-specific requirements listed in each position description.

    • Possess a strong background and understanding of the intercultural and/or diversity, equity and inclusion fields
    • Be a member in good standing with SIETAR USA (or willing to become a member)
    • Be a member who has attended at least one SIETAR USA conference in the past five (5) years

    Preferred

    • Professional experience working as an intercultural and/or diversity trainer, educator or researcher
    • Be knowledgeable of development opportunities available to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and intercultural professionals
    • Possess good facilitation and communication skills
    • Strong team player with experience working well with remote teams and managing projects



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

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

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

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

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

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

    Why are we all experiencing 'Zoom fatigue'?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Why do our social video calls feel stressful, too?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How do you combat the 'Zoom fatigue'?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller


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

    Jefferson Graham, USA Today APR 11, 2020

    We all want the same things in life.

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

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

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

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

    Appearance

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

    Lighting

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

    Background

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

    Perspective

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

    Eye Level

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

    Sound

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

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

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


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

    COMING EVENTS

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

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

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


    May

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

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

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


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

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

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

    June

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sandra M. Fowler

    President SIETAR USA


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mari Alexander, LMFT
    Intercultural Trainer and Coach


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

    By Sue Shinomiya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    We are all one.

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


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