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

  • 13 Feb 2021 7:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In January, President Perry pledged to make SIETAR more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. As part of this goal, Cheryl Woehr, Professional Development Director created a task force to update our Living Code of Ethical Behavior by applying a DEI lens to it. The task force will provide a number of ways for you to contribute via focus groups and soliciting ethical issues you have encountered as a SIETAR professional. It will also ask for members to review and comment on the document before presenting the results at the October conference. If you would like to volunteer, please contact info@sietarusa.org. We also invite you to share any ethical issues you have encountered, especially as they relate to DEI matters, using this google form https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSej3zobcpxObLY-0iQHpZJxBVmmcyNAkFOufDGfGog4zZIngA/viewform?usp=pp_url.

  • 13 Feb 2021 7:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    March 14, 2021: Virtual Sparks! Interactive Intercultural Activities and Strategies for Online Teaching And Training

    This past year has motivated many interculturalists and DEI professionals to “up” their virtual game, with much time and energy devoted to learning and practicing new tools and strategies for engaging online. While many in the field have been facilitating uncertainty management and adaptation skill development for years, the current pandemic presents new challenges and opportunities. This session focuses not only on strategies for recreating online the value of our work present in face-to-face contexts, but on a proactive approach to considering all the things we can do online from a value-added perspective. We’ll engage in intercultural activities from an inclusive perspective and explore best practices for interactive learning online. We’ll focus on overcoming ‘Zoom fatigue’ through a creative and energizing approach to our work. Join us to add more spark to your virtual, intercultural teaching and training.

    Basma Ibrahim DeVries Basma Ibrahim DeVries is a Professor of Communication Studies with Concordia University, St. Paul, MN, USA. She specializes in teaching intercultural and interpersonal communication courses, facilitating campus-wide intercultural/diversity sessions, and integrating service learning into the classroom. As an Egyptian-American, Basma has spent much time traveling and living in Egypt, Europe and the USA, and leading annual student travel and service-learning groups to Egypt, Mexico, and Russia. Her previous teaching and curriculum development experience involved working with a variety of Arabic and ESL programs.

    April 14, 2021: Psychology of Cultural Humility – an emotion critical for the intercultural development by Andrej Juriga

    Andrej JurigaAndrej Juriga offers us an expanded view of intercultural skills development, taking us beyond the cognitive to the emotional level. Based on the ontological approach to psychology for making meaning of our emotional reactions, his session focuses specifically on the emotion of cultural humility and then explores if that’s sufficient for diverse settings. Also included are practical ways to use cultural humility in our workshops and coaching. Andrej, founder and managing director of Cultural Bridge, a training company based in Slovakia, is a certified facilitator of Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Intelligence. His work spans the globe and includes a vast range of industries and businesses. He holds a master’s degree in German and South-American cultures as well as in higher education, pedagogy and psychology. Andrej has lived in five different countries across Europe and Africa.

    May 12, 2021: Jamil Khoury, co-founder and Co-Executive Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising, a Chicago-based community-centered art-making and arts service organization rooted in Asian, Middle Eastern, and Muslim experiences. Khoury will present how Silk Road Rising uses live theatre, digital media, and arts education to challenge disinformation, cultivate new narratives, and promote a culture of continuous learning.

  • 13 Feb 2021 7:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

      February 17, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: Culture Buff Games – Chinese Values, Indian Values, American Values, British Values” with Lucy Fogarty. Visit the SIETAR Europa Event Page register!

      March 3, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Understanding the influence of power relations in the dialogue about racism” with Şeydâ Buurman-Kutsal. Visit the SIETAR Europa Event Page register!

      March 17, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Negotiating across cultures” with Bill Reed and Seiji Nakano. Visit the SIETAR Europa Event Page register!

    See the SIETAR Europa Events Page for more webinars!

    • February

      February is African American History Month in the United States and Canada. Since 1976, the month has been designated to remember the contributions of people of the African diaspora.

      February 11: Asian-American Women’s Equal Pay Day. The aim is to raise awareness about the pay gap between Asian-American women and White men. Asian-American women are paid 90 cents for every dollar paid to white men.

      February 12: Lunar New Year, one of the most sacred of all traditional Chinese holidays, a time of family reunion and celebration. The Lunar New Year is also celebrated at this time in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Mongolia.

      February 12-14: Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, a time of renewal through sacred and secular practices.

      February 14: St. Valentine’s Day, a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus. Typically associated with romantic love and celebrated by people expressing their love via gifts.

      February 15: Parinirvana Day (or Nirvana Day), the commemoration of Buddha’s death at the age of 80, when he reached the zenith of Nirvana. February 8 is an alternative date of observance.

      February 15: Presidents Day, a federally recognized celebration in the United States of George Washington’s birthday, as well as every president proceeding Washington.

      February 16: Vasant Panchami, the Hindu festival that highlights the coming of spring. On this day Hindus worship Saraswati Devi, the goddess of wisdom, knowledge, music, art, and culture.

      February 16: Mardi Gras, the last day for Catholics to indulge before Ash Wednesday starts the sober weeks of fasting that accompany Lent. The term “Mardi Gras” is particularly associated with the carnival celebrations in New Orleans, Louisiana.

      February 16: Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Though named for its former religious significance, it is chiefly marked by feasting and celebration, which traditionally preceded the observance of the Lenten fast. It is observed by various Christian denominations.

      February 17: Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent on the Christian calendar. Its name is derived from the symbolic use of ashes to signify penitence. It takes place immediately after the excesses of the two days of Carnival that take place in Northern Europe and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

      February 20: World Day of Social Justice was declared by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007. The U.N. holds social justice-focused events to commemorate the day.

      February 21: International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999. The purpose of the day is, “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world [and] … promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.” (United Nations, 2021)

      February 25-28: Intercalary Days or Ayyám-i-Há, celebrated by people of the Bahá’í faith. At this time, days are added to the Bahá’í calendar to maintain their solar calendar. Intercalary days are observed with gift giving, special acts of charity, and preparation for the fasting that precedes the New Year.

      February 25-26: Purim, a Jewish celebration that marks the time when the Jewish community living in Persia was saved from genocide. On Purim, Jewish people offer charity and share food with friends.

      February 26: Lantern Festival, the first significant feast after the Chinese New Year, named for watching Chinese lanterns illuminate the sky during the night of the event.

      February 27: Maghi-Purnima, a Hindu festival especially for worshippers of Lord Vishnu. Millions of devotees take a holy bath on this day. Devotees also carry out charity work on this day. 

      February 27-March 28: Magha Puja Day (also known as Maka Bucha), a Buddhist holiday that marks an event early in the Buddha’s teaching life when a group of 1,250 enlightened saints, ordained by the Buddha, gathered to pay their respect to him. It is celebrated on various dates in different countries.

      February 28 (sunset) to March 19 (sunset): Nineteen-Day Fast, a time in the Bahá’í Faith to reinvigorate the soul and bring one closer to God. The fast takes place immediately before the beginning of the Bahá'í New Year.


      March is Women’s History Month. Started in 1987, Women’s History Month recognizes all women for their valuable contributions to history and society.

      March is also National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which was established to increase awareness and understanding of issues affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

      March is National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month. It was established to raise public awareness of the autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and assist those with multiple sclerosis in making informed decisions about their health care.

      March 8: International Women’s Day. First observed in 1911 in Germany, it has now become a major global celebration honoring women’s economic, political and social achievements.

      March 11: Maha Shivarati, Hindu festival celebrated each year to honor Lord Shiva. It is celebrated just before the arrival of spring. It is also known as the Great Night of Shiva or Shivaratri and is one of the largest and most significant among the sacred festival nights of India.

      March 11: Lailat al Miraj, a Muslim holiday that commemorates the prophet Muhammad's nighttime journey from Mecca to the “Farthest Mosque” in Jerusalem, where he ascended to heaven, was purified, and given the instruction for Muslims to pray five times daily. Note that in the Muslim calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Lailat al Miraj on the sundown of March 10.

      March 13-April 15: Deaf History Month. This observance celebrates key events in deaf history, including the founding of Gallaudet University and the American School for the Deaf.

      March 17: St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday started in Ireland to recognize St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who brought Christianity to the country in the early days of the faith.

      Holidays list courtesy of: https://www.diversitybestpractices.com/2021-diversity-holidays#february

      Works Cited

    • United Nations. (n.d.). International Mother Language Day. Retrieved February 2, 2021, from https://www.un.org/en/observances/mother-language-day

  • 14 Jan 2021 3:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hello everyone. I am pleased to be sending out my very first contribution as President of SIETAR USA. Welcome to a New Year, one that we hope brings you much needed respite and recovery in all the ways that the challenges of 2020 may have affected you and your family.

    There are many things I had intended to say in this message, much of it to honor the great friends and colleagues I have met through my involvement with SIETAR USA, particularly my predecessor Sandy Fowler, as I in some way try to live up the standards of commitment and service that she and others have shown over many years of SIETAR USA leadership. Stories of what it means to me and how I would like to serve this wonderful organization with gratitude will come later perhaps.

    However, with your indulgence, I feel we have much more urgent needs to meet following the events of this past week, particularly those of January 6th, 2021. It has been expressed in the official response that the board has crafted on behalf of the organization but let me state it here clearly as a matter of my own record. This was terrorism from within, incited, instigated, encouraged, and participated in by elected representatives that have disgraced the trust and honor that should come with the position they hold.

    The fact that it happened in what was thought to be one of the most secure democracies in the world should bring pause to all mankind. We have seen this story before as humans. Divide and conquer is a tried-and-true pathway to despotic rule, and it turns out now the United States of America is equally prone to the maladies it brings. Convince people that they are victims, and you can use any threat; real or imagined to convince them to follow blindly into an abyss of hatred.

    The mission of SIETAR, not just for the USA, is one of learning, encouraging, and teaching cultural understanding. These are lofty goals indeed and call on us to always look at the many sides of everything we encounter. I don’t know about you, but this is at times frustrating when I don’t seem to know when to stop over analyzing perspectives and move forward with decisions!

    Eventually we are faced with responding to such events that break through the limits of reasonable discourse, and I strongly believe this was one of those cases. In the spirit of openness, I must say that we as an organization can fall into the same trap I have just described. Our response messaging becomes mired in platitudes and ambiguity. It is then that we do even more damage. And where is that damage inflicted? On the groups and individuals that have borne the brunt of the structural inequities that pervade organizations and societies all over the world to varying degrees. They are left unseen, unheard and their experiences diminished. It is no wonder that we struggle to attract the diversity we so desperately need, either within the ranks of our membership or amongst those that take on roles of additional service as stewards of SIETAR’s mission.

    Some may take the strong words I have used here and feel the need to come to the rescue of SIETAR USA’s reputation, and I get that. Understand clearly however, I am in no way diminishing the profound and important impact that the organization has had in creating a space for learning and understanding. I have seen the wonderful sharing of ideas and knowledge and it has been a font of personal growth for me and many others. However, we need to get comfortable with discomfort if we are to truly face our own shortcomings, me first. For that, I now explicitly state that this responsibility rests firmly with me, and I will accept personally the failures we no doubt will experience as part of further growth going forward. At the same time, I invite you to join me in ascribing the much good that we can and will do together to my fellow board members, advisors, and professional affiliates. Most importantly to you, current and prospective members — this organization is nothing without you. It is your home, your people. It would be arrogant of me or anyone else to use the terms “we invite” or “we open the doors”. Your place with us is, along with your own uniqueness, simply assumed. Everyone should be celebrated and affirmed, most importantly seen, and heard.

    So that is it for now. I openly invite you to share your own thoughts either directly with me, or through our various channels of engagement. We have a huge group of over 2,400 people on LinkedIn, as well as our Facebook page. Your voice is vital.

    I am grateful to you for your attention. Please reach out to me directly at any time, for any reason. Bye for now.

    Brett Parry

  • 14 Jan 2021 2:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The general state of the Society is very healthy. Finances, Membership, Governance, Activities and Events all are thriving and sustainable. The following status report summarizes items of note.


    • The Finance Committee (Brett Parry, Alsu Shondelmayer, Justin Sitron, Hamilton Cruz, and Sandy Fowler) continues to meet and discuss options for the future. We are moving our checking and savings accounts to a Chicago branch of Chase. The new president, treasurer, and administrative officer are all in Chicago, so this will make certain aspects of banking much more efficient.
    • A meeting is planned to discuss our investments with a financial advisor to determine if we want to make any changes to our current situation.
    • The Society is currently supported by investments, savings, and checking. A detailed report is available upon request by members in good standing. Send requests to the Administrative Officer at info@sietarusa.org.


    • The membership total has grown by more than 100 members over the past two years. We now have 261 members and will work toward making that trend continue upward.
    • Credit goes to the 4 people who have opted for a Sustaining Membership that provides extra support.
    • Applause for our 10 Institutional Members whose support is greatly appreciated.


    • We have an active, full Board of Directors. All portfolios are led by experienced, dedicated members of SIETAR USA. Diversity on the Board is at an all-time high.
    • Committees have been formed to support the Communication, Professional Development, and Local Groups Portfolios.
    • A Task Force was formed to review the Living Code of Ethical Behavior applying a DEI lens to the Ethics Code.
    • A Mentoring Program revitalization effort is underway. We currently have 11 mentees and 6 mentors. Content, parameters, goals, scope, and schedules are being designed.

    Activities and Events:

    • The Webinar Series. The Webinar Team responsible for selecting speakers and subjects continues to provide thought provoking and stimulating sessions.
    • The Virtual Conference. The Conference in October was held virtually to comply with Covid-19 lockdowns. Since it was our first virtual conference, we were learning as we went. Thanks to diligent research by Brett Parry and Karen Fouts, our technical platforms were a big success. The response from participants was remarkably positive. The conference was also a financial success, so it is intended that we will continue alternating the in-person conference with a virtual one.
    • Special Workshops. There was enthusiastic response to two special workshops this past year.
      • Thiagi spent a day with SIETAR USA members and friends of SIETAR USA, helping us understand how we can make online training activities stimulating and fun.
      • Shelley Morrison conducted a workshop that dealt with the technical side of training virtually plus additional ideas about how to get the message across.
    • The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA. The newsletter is being published 10 times a year and continues to provide an array of information each month. Think pieces such as the Opinion column and the book reviews have some heft to them. The interviews with intercultural and DEI professionals can be revealing. Other items of interest are fun and informative. The Calendar of Upcoming Events is a way to track what other SIETARs are doing. What is missing is you. We welcome feedback, submissions, ideas. The Editorial Team appreciates hearing that you read the newsletter and welcomes pictures, comments, criticism, new articles, whatever you have found interesting and think others might too.

    Other Benefits:

    • GlobeSmart is an online learning platform that specializes in global collaboration and inclusion. Based on a partnership between SIETAR USA and Aperian Global, SIETAR USA members are eligible to receive an exclusive 20% discount on all online learning on Aperian Global's GlobeSmart website. This partnership benefits both the association and its members, as SIETAR USA will also receive 20% of the resulting revenue from purchases of GlobeSmart products made by SIETAR USA members.
    • Discounts are available with Office Depot and the Intercultural Press. The Office Depot discount (see website for details) is particularly useful for printing or any Office Depot products. The amount of discount on printing can vary, but it is usually around 70%. The Intercultural Press discount is 20% on most books and videos.
    • Members receive discounted registration fees for special workshops and conferences. The webinars are free to members in good standing.
    • Perhaps the biggest benefit of membership in SIETAR USA is the connection it gives you with like-minded colleagues. Partnerships, projects, friendships are possible when you are in contact with the diverse members of SIETAR USA.


    Being President of SIETAR USA for the past two years has been the most fun I’ve had in a long time. However, I am pleased to turn the reins over to Brett Parry because I know the kind of job he will do while being in charge. His ideas are inspired, and he is way ahead of most in terms of his knowledge and expertise with technology—providing ways of communicating that will make a difference. He is also one of the most inclusive people I know.

    The liveliness that I sense in SIETAR USA at this point is just what I hoped to bring to the society that I’ve been part of for most of my professional life. Throughout the 2 years of my term in office, it felt like I was working with an old friend—guiding, mentoring, impelling, advocating—to be the best it can be. I hope you felt the loving care I put into it and can feel the momentum too!

    Sandra M. Fowler
    Immediate Past President

  • 14 Jan 2021 2:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Ferial Pearson

    In January of 2020, the parents and students of a community near my home bombarded me with messages of hatred and bigotry after I gave a presentation to their high school. Fueled by lies and misinformation from their school principal and superintendent in an attempt to cover what they themselves had done, these messages quickly escalated to emails to my dean and chancellor, threats to sue, and finally death threats. I was forced to uproot my family from our home of fifteen years and quickly find a new place to live. I learned a great deal about how the cycle of systemic oppression is powered by micro- and macroaggressions in the guise of respectability and the upkeep of powerful relationships.

    In the fall of 2019, a principal emailed me for help saying that their high school was struggling with bullying stemming from racism and other bigotry. I spent two hours going over my interactive presentation on Power and Privilege with their school counselor, and gave her a handout for students to work on with their teachers after my presentation was over. I would walk them through ageism, faithism, appearanceism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism, and racism. I would guide them through who had the power and privilege in each of those identities, and talk about how awareness of privilege is not about feeling guilt, rather about using that power for good as a friend and ally. She asserted that this work was badly needed in their almost completely white district.

    At the school, the principal said that the students were in a “bubble” and needed some “shock value.” As the students filed in, the counselor said that parents had gone to the principal and superintendent with objections about my presentation. I asked what the objections were and what communication had gone out about my presentation. She didn’t know. Within two minutes of beginning my presentation, students jeered and booed, yelling “bullshit” as I spoke about the pink tax or the fact that women are paid less than men. Their answers to my questions were mocking, sexist, Islamophobic, and rude. This continued for the entire time; no one stopped any of them. I was rushed out of the building at the end. Within an hour, I had emails from two girls thanking me for coming and apologizing profusely for their schoolmates’ behavior. I also had one email from a teacher telling me that my work was sorely needed and thanking me for coming. Sometime during that day, the principal sent a letter to parents that said I had been invited to talk about kindness, that had gone off script and instead talked about the “isms” and that, in the future, all speakers would be required to submit their presentations for approval. Thus began the hate mail, death threats, calls and emails to my dean, chancellor with threats to sue and asking for me to be fired. I was called a danger to children because I was reposting the messages I was getting on my social media for my friends and family. My dean met with me and my chair and told me the school district was asking for an apology from me. She said “they are good people and they are hurting. People’s jobs are at stake; you don’t want anyone to lose their jobs, do you? This is getting in the way of children learning.” I refused to apologize. I sent her my documentation. Students had recorded the presentation and put it on YouTube and she and the senior vice chancellor heard it and agreed I had not said anything inappropriate and that it was in fact a good presentation. She went back to them. Her next message was that they no longer were asking for an apology; rather, that I stop posting about them on social media. I had already shut down my social media due to the threats. I told her that my Secret Kindness Agents had sent a Starbucks gift card for every teacher and a bouquet of yellow roses for the front office; the superintendent told her that this was annoying and a disruption to the school.

    Oppression and discrimination are messy, complicated, and nuanced. Perhaps this is why so much of it goes unaddressed. People love to find a scapegoat; someone to blame when things go wrong so that they can be punished, and there can be retribution and closure. Maybe we can even prevent such a thing from happening again when we figure out what or who the problem is. Sometimes that is easy, but unfortunately it is often a much more complex and nuanced issue that has multiple sources of wrongdoing; some big and some small. Even more confusing, the harm done might be intentional or unintentional, or both, muddying the waters of good and bad. What my family and I went through was just such a bucket of fish hooks; when I pulled out one piece of bigotry and hate, a bunch of others came with it. When I pulled out a microaggression, it was accompanied by more. Being in a segregated bubble, students were allowed to develop stereotypes and biased attitudes about who people like me are. When microaggressions such as the jeers and bigoted shouts at the assembly went unaddressed, it gave the students and their parents permission to commit macroaggressions by sending more damaging messages, threatening my livelihood, and finally it led to actual death threats. The Anti-Defamation League has a Pyramid of Oppression that shows biased behaviors, growing in complexity from the bottom to the top. While the behaviors at each level are harmful, as you move up each layer, they get more dangerous. The top layers are supported by the foundational layers below, thus, as the smaller microaggressions and attitudes become normalized and accepted, so too do the behaviors higher up. This is why it is crucial to speak up as soon as hatred makes itself known, even as microaggressions. With a cracked foundation, the rest cannot stand.

  • 14 Jan 2021 2:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As always, we’re delighted here at BookMarks to have a guest reviewer this month. Darla K. Deardorff is author/editor of nine books, founding president of the World Council on Intercultural and Global Competence, research scholar at Duke University, faculty at several different universities in four countries, and executive director of an international education organization, AIEA.

    Book Review: “Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better Together, the African Way” by Mungi Ngomane

    Given all that divides us today, my burning question is how we can learn to live together. Mungi Ngomane, granddaughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, provides a response to this question through her recent book entitled Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better Together, the African Way (Bantam Press, 2020).

    In 2020, I had the opportunity to join a book discussion on this book as we explored the different chapters together. As the author explains from the outset, “Ubuntu is a way of life from which we can all learn” and it’s one of her favorite words (p. 13). She goes on to explain that ubuntu originates from a Southern African philosophy and “encompasses all our aspirations about how to live life” together as people unite for a common good. Her grandfather, Desmond Tutu, explains in the foreword, that “the lesson of ubuntu is best described in a proverb that is found in almost every African language, whose translation is “A person is a person through other persons.” He continues by saying “Everyday Ubuntu offers the reader a chance to reflect on the ways in which the practice of ubuntu can help us to be someone in the world who builds bridges, someone who sees each interaction as a chance to foster a more positive environment.”

    Indeed, I found Everyday Ubuntu an easy and enjoyable read which outlines 14 lessons of ubuntu in short chapters, which lends itself well to book club discussions. Lesson 1 begins with “See Yourself in Others” followed by Lesson 2 as ”Strength Lies in Unity.” Some of the more challenging lessons include “Believe in the Good of Everyone” (Lesson 6) and embrace the “Power of the F-Word – Forgiveness” (Lesson 9). These lessons provide much food for thought given the current realities facing us, with the pandemic, political turmoil and societal injustices.

    One of my favorite lessons is to “Learn to Listen so that You Can Hear” (Lesson 14), in part because it really resonates with the work I’ve been doing with UNESCO on an intercultural methodology called Story Circles, where we emphasize listening for understanding (see open access Manual for Developing Intercultural Competencies for more on this). The author quotes Nelson Mandela in saying “I learned to have the patience to listen when people put forward their views, even if I think those views are wrong.” Ngomane challenges readers to make “a pact to listen more, even when we think it doesn’t affect us in the here and now” and highlighted an acronym, SHUSH – Show you care, Have patience, Use open questions, Say it back, and Have courage to help people understand the art of listening

    The clearly-written lessons are illustrated with stories provided by Ngomane and summarized in an epilogue about how to apply these 14 lessons of ubuntu into one’s own life. I found the epilogue particularly helpful In distilling the key points and reflecting on how these can be applied in daily life. As Desmond Tutu concludes, “On any given day, we are each offered many chances to be the person who- whether it be through words, actions, or even silence and inaction -offers space to those we encounter to experience care and relationship.” This book challenges each of us to remember the common good, to seek out ways to connect, and to build deeper relationships with those who are different from us. This work is needed now more than ever. May we take up this challenge of ubuntu as relearn what it means to live together in this day and time and within all the challenges that confront us. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

    Darla K. Deardorff, d.deardorff@duke.edu

  • 14 Jan 2021 2:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Karen J Lokkesmoe, Ph.D., Conference Oversite

    Greetings SIETAR USA Community. There are a few things to share with you all in this month’s edition of Conference Connections.

    First up is a recap of the post conference survey data from the 2020 Virtual Conference. We had a great turn out for a very successful first-ever SIETAR USA virtual conference in October 2020. We received a wonderful survey response of over 50%. You can read the recap and review the survey data here. In addition to high ratings on almost all aspects of the conference, we also received many thoughtful comments and suggestions. Your time in providing feedback is greatly appreciated and we are reviewing all those comments carefully as we move forward with future conference planning. We are indeed fortunate to have such an engaged community. A more detailed analysis of the comments from the surveys and how they are being addressed will be available in the February newsletter, once the Board and Conference Committee has been convened and can consider them.

    For all who were registered for the conference, you will be receiving an email soon with an individualized access code to the recorded sessions from the conference. Watch your emails and enjoy visiting sessions you missed or reviewing ones you enjoyed!

    Now, on to 2021 - A New Year has arrived and plans for the 2021 Conference are well underway. At this time, we are counting on being able to have an in-person conference in Omaha in October, 2021. We are certainly monitoring the situation regarding Covid-19 and gathering in large groups closely and will keep everyone informed. The theme of the conference will be Mind, Culture, and Society. A call for proposals will be going out soon. Please consider what you might want to present. As always, putting together a conference is a team effort and we are building the 2021 team now. If you are interested in helping us create another successful SIETAR USA conference, please email us. There are positions on several committees so there is sure to be one that fits your time and expertise. You can reach us at conferenceoversight@sietarusa.org or conferencechairs@sietar.org.

    We are delighted to introduce you to the 2021 Conference Chair, Dr. Helen Abdali Soosan Fagan.

    Dr. Helen Abdali Soosan Fagan is a Leadership, Diversity, and Inclusion scholar and practitioner. She is the founder of Global Leadership Group, which provides consulting and leadership coaching to organizations, communities, and executives in the field of Diversity, Inclusion, Cultural Competence, and becoming an Inclusive Leader. Since 2018, Dr. Fagan has been a faculty member and program lead for the Inclusive Community Leadership Fellows program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    In addition to a Ph.D. in Human Sciences with specialization in Leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Dr. Fagan holds multiple certifications in Diversity, Emotional Intelligence, and is a trained Executive Coach. Also, she is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory, which she has used for developing thousands of leaders and healthcare providers. For the last five years, she has also served as a faculty member with the Qatar Institute for Intercultural Communication providing workshops for faculty, staff, and graduate students working at six American universities in Education City in Qatar. Dr. Fagan’s expertise in developing inclusive leaders, organizations, and communities has enabled her to speak in multiple nations, and at last count, on four continents. Her book, Becoming Inclusive: A Worthy Pursuit in Leadership will be released in 2021 by Information Age Publishing.

    Before academia, Dr. Fagan created and led the Diversity and Cultural Competence Initiatives at Bryan Health, in Lincoln, NE. This initiative at Bryan was considered so innovative that it gained national recognition and was featured in a Joint Commission (health care accreditation body) publication. During that time, she played a key role in the recruitment and resettlement of nurses from the Philippines to address the nursing shortage in Nebraska. She also worked diligently to address employment and health care needs of refugees and immigrants, and was a strong voice for eliminating the use of children as medical interpreters in health care settings. As an international student from Iran, who arrived as an unaccompanied minor to the United States at age 15, just two months before the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979, Dr. Fagan has experienced a tremendous number of challenges during her life in the United States. She has used each of those challenges to inspire others, especially women. As a result, she has received multiple awards, including the Key to the City of Lincoln, for her contributions to the lives of others.

    In 2018, Dr. Fagan served as a Consulting Producer on the short film, The Healing of Harman. She consulted on the film during the writing, filming, and editing processes. The film was directed by the Academy Award-nominated Director, Seth Pinkster. This film has been used to create discussion with community leaders in relation to the process that communities can use to foster a spirit of inclusion in which people are welcomed and embraced in their healing. The film won Morehouse College’s Best Human Rights Short Film in 2020.

  • 14 Jan 2021 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    OmahaOver the next months this feature of our newsletter will highlight aspects of live and culture in the area. Although in the middle of the country, far from the coastal shores and foreign destinations, Omaha, Nebraska is no sleepy small town. Not only is it the home to many international companies and top-ranked universities, there are also many attractions for visitors. You may want to come early or stay late to check out a few of them. One such attraction may include the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium which TripAdvisor claimed to be the “world’s best zoo”. From amply nightlife, restaurants and historic monuments to world-class art museums and a fabulous zoo, you definitely won’t want to miss Omaha!

  • 14 Jan 2021 1:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by: Deborah Orlowski

    I don’t know about you, but to me, October 2020 seems like both yesterday and years ago!

    As the 2020 SIETAR USA Conference Chair I would, once again, like to thank everyone who attended, worked on, volunteered at, and participated in this year’s conference. SIETAR conferences are always special. Whatever our jobs, intercultural or DEI, I find we often spend a substantial amount of time explaining what we do. One of the joys of SIETAR is that we are amongst people who understand. I joined SIETAR International in the early 1990s and attended SIETAR conferences around the world, each one a unique homage to the city where it was held. Yet, no matter where we were in the world, the conferences always felt like coming home.

    What Energized You About the 2020 SIETAR USA Conference

    When I was tasked with chairing this year’s SIETAR USA conference, I wanted to bring that same feeling to our virtual world. In the Conference Planning Team, I found a group of SIETARians who had a similar vision. There are some things that must be done at our conferences: a business meeting, awards presentations, personal and professional networking and of course, increasing our skills. But quite honestly, these aren’t the things that make us, us. In conversation after conversation your conference team reiterated the desire to present an environment that created that sense of being with family. And it seemed to show. In looking at your evaluations, the opportunity to connect was overwhelmingly cited as the best part of the conference. You also appreciated all the work and technical expertise provided by Brett and Karen with a special mention of Sue’s facilitating. It’s traditional for SIETAR USA to have morning wellness sessions and your evaluations showed an appreciation for continuing that. Remo was generally well-received. It appeared the biggest complaint about Remo was that not enough people were there. We can provide it, but it’s up to you to use it! Brett demonstrated yet another talent as the new unofficial SIETAR USA DJ at our closing Zoom party which rocked, so much so that it was mentioned several times as a conference highlight.

    Where We Could Have Done Better

    Of course, being our first virtual conference, we didn’t hit the mark every time. The most frequent criticism was the conference was too long or it was over a weekend. The conference team discussed numerous variations of timing: Why not periodic events and sessions over a month? Let’s make it 2 days on a weekend. Let’s make sure we don’t have it on a weekend. To reach a world-wide audience hold everything in late afternoon. No, make it early morning. How about late at night? We imagined them all. We reasoned in a virtual setting it was easy to jump in and out of the conference, giving attendees flexibility. We wanted to make it accessible across the world and accessible for people who might not be able to leave work during the week.

    POS and Whiteness Sessions

    There were both kudos and concerns for the sessions dedicated to Practitioners of Color (POC) and to discussing Whiteness and Dismantling Racism. For the last several years, our conference has given time and opportunity for all Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to gather in a “safe” space to discuss their unique issues and strategies. This year, amid the murders by police and protests for social justice and police reform, it felt particularly important to provide this. Making the session “closed” was a request of the POC planning group and it was one we gladly granted. Reports from attendees of those sessions were positive. By the same token, many of us who identify as White have difficulty understanding why this “segregation” happens, especially in a group like SIETAR that is “not exclusive” (as one evaluation stated). It’s for this reason, as well as a deep desire to understand how being White supports both the continuation and disruption of racism, that the session on Whiteness and Dismantling Racism was developed. Both the POC and Whiteness sessions were seen by their designers as critical first steps that SIETAR USA needs to take in order to do our work within our organization and our own practices.

    Next Year In Omaha

    Finally, SIETARians always come with great ideas. We are assuming that our conference next year will be in-person in Omaha, Nebraska. However, because this year’s virtual conference was so successful (my very biased opinion of your evaluations), a substantial number of you not only wanted us to continue through this upcoming year with virtual workshops, meetings, and networking, but recommended next year’s conference be blended with both virtual and in-person offerings. Many people mentioned that a virtual format allowed easy access to the conference, especially if one lived a great distance away. You mentioned wanting performances and presentations from around the world that would add to the overall Omaha experience, as they did to this year’s virtual conference and there were mentions of bringing back the Whiteness and POC sessions. Keep those great ideas coming and remember, it’s not too early to volunteer to be on the 2021 SIETAR USA Conference Planning Team to bring your creativity to fruition in Omaha!

    Although I have one son who claims that in “COVID Times” time no longer exists…there is only yesterday, today, and tomorrow…we know that’s not true. It may feel like the 2020 Conference both just ended and was years ago but we understand that time is a steady march. Soon it will be the holiday season here in the US and then the New Year and 2021. I sincerely hope that the 2020 SIETAR USA conference brought you new skills, new friends and colleagues, new energy and most of all, renewed joy. Thank you for your support, friendships, and love during this conference process. Time may be mutable these days, but my admiration for all of you and the amazing work you do is not. May this new year bring you health, stability, joy, and peace. And so, as my last act as Chair of the 2020 SIETAR USA conference, I bid you farewell. See you Next Year In Omaha!

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