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  • 20 Mar 2020 3:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SIETAR-DC kicked off 2020 with a members’ social at the home of one of its members, which welcomed new and returning folks. The hostess, who has lived around the world, had an engaging ice-breaker activity where guests had to guess the origin country of different cultural artifacts. Even those who were well traveled or have lived overseas were stumped with a few! The local group is planning more events this spring. SIETAR DC is currently looking to increase membership and has a call out for new volunteers as well as for a communications intern. If interested, please send an email to SIETARDC@gmail.com.

    SIETAR Florida had a virtual call with members on February 10th 2020 to discuss about different exciting projects for 2020. We are planning webinars and discussions on different themes such as Global Leadership, the future of our work due to automatization, the challenges of multicultural families and the accompanying spouse, cultural intelligence. Stay tuned for more information on our dates and facilitators!

    SIETAR-MN is off to a great start for the 2019-20 year, beginning with an eye-opening panel of international leaders who spoke about the concept of interculturalism and the role of the interculturalist in their countries. Other meetings have included a session on icebreakers and energizer activities, a highlight by an interculturalist in the field of global mobility and HR contexts, and how to broach different perspectives within the family during the holidays in an era of polarization. Local group members also participated in its annual service experience in January by packing meals at the Feed My Starving Children organization. They also learned about the role of the interculturalist within the diversity, equity and inclusion space. The March meeting will feature a talk by an economist and immigrant entrepreneur who will present on immigrant contributions to the local economy.

    The Tri-state SIETAR NY - NJ - CT had its first face-to-face meeting of 2020 on Jan. 23rd, in NYC. Over food from different cultures that each participant brought to the meeting, we had a conversation on the intersection of intercultural skills and inclusion. Sean Dubberke from RW3 was the speaker and talked about their newly released global inclusion course. The conversation was informal and in addition to networking, we discussed some ideas and expectations regarding the group’s next steps.

  • 20 Mar 2020 3:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Deanna Shoss for Executive Diversity Services, Inc.

    The first Women’s Rights Convention in the US took place in 1848. 75 years later, in 1923, women began the fight for an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The ERA finally passed the House of Representatives and the Senate in 1971 and ‘72 respectively. It then went out for ratification by the states, where it has languished ever since. It needed three quarters (38) states approval to be added as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    While women’s issues continue to be at the forefront in the news, the ERA only recently resurfaced when Virginia became the 38th State to pass it in January 2020. But it’s future is still not secured. The statute of limitations is long gone—even the extension expired in 1982. And in the meantime, five states have rescinded their approval. Following Virginia’s passage last month, three state attorneys general sued to waive the previously set expiration date and enact the amendment.

    Over the years, many other laws have passed that aim to protect women’s (and other protected classes) rights under the law and in the workplace. Six to be specific:

    The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 1974; The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (yes, that’s been a law since 1963); The Fair Housing Act, 1968; The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which amended Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

    So it’s all fixed, right?

    In terms of protection, until there is a national ERA, states still have the ability to interpret laws differently, which can lead to different outcomes for women depending on where they live.   

    As relates to women in the work force, according to Catalyst, a global nonprofit that helps organizations accelerate progress for women at work, in 2018, women made up 44.7 % of all employees at S&P500 companies. But they only accounted for 21.2% of board seats, 11% of highest earners and 5% of CEO’s. 29% of senior management roles were held by women in 2019, the highest number ever on record.

    Many know the term “glass ceiling”, referring to an invisible barrier against promoting women to high positions in corporations. A newer term is the glass cliff, the phenomenon of women in leadership roles being likelier than men to achieve those roles during periods of crisis or downturn, when the chance of failure is highest. Clearly there is more to understand and more work to do.

    In the meantime, there’s plenty that individuals and companies can do to keep the momentum moving forward.

    Three Ideas for Promoting Equity for Women in the Workplace

    Go Beyond the Law

    Samantha Bee, host of the late-night show Full Frontal on TBS announced in January, 20 Weeks of Paid Leave for 'Full Frontal' Staff. And she challenged other late-night hosts to do the same. Full Frontal is now offering our employees the best-paid family leave policy in all of late night,” Samantha said in a video posted to Twitter and Instagram. “This kind of policy isn’t mandated by the government, but it should be! Having a baby without going broke should be possible for all workers.”

    Flexible schedules that value work completed, as opposed to specific hours at a desk, can also boost employee morale and expand your talent pool. And it’s not just for parents. In a global market, employees might use flexible schedules to drop off or pick up children. Or they may use it to schedule a 9 pm call with the team in China, where it’s morning.

    What policies can you adopt that recognize the value that your employees bring to your company while acknowledging and respecting their desire for work-life balance?

    Expand Reward Bands

    According to a 2005 study of the US workplace, perceptions of women’s leadership are influenced by common stereotypes held by both men AND women. This is despite analytical reviews of over 40 studies on gender differences which indicate there are more similarities than difference in women and men leaders in an organizational setting. According to the Catalyst study “Women ‘Take Care,’ Men ‘Take Charge:’ Stereotyping of U.S. Business Leaders Exposed,” women are associated with feminine, less-essential, skills such as supporting, rewarding, team-building, and consulting; where as men are associated with more masculine skills such as problem solving, influencing upward, and delegating.

    Many company’s reward bands, how they reward employees with raises, bonuses or other recognition favor the “male-associated” skills. Studies, however, show that EQ, Emotional Intelligence which sounds a lot like the “less-essential” skills above, is exactly what is needed to for the most effective leaders (Korn Ferry, 2016). Rather than providing rewards only for output and task achievements, companies can be more inclusive by measuring things like how managers include mentoring and professional development in their management plans.


    Be Transparent: Know Your Company

    Equal pay has been the law since 1963. And yet in 2019 woman made 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. Events like Equal Pay Day, started in 1996 (and coming up again on March 31) as well as state laws that add to the federal mandate, are making a difference. Note that Glassdoor cites that after applying statistical controls for worker and job characteristics to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison, the difference drops to 95 cents, or women earning 5% less for comparable jobs in the US (Glassdoor, 2019).

    How is your company doing? Salary audits can reveal any unintended inequality in pay. It’s also important to do an audit of job titles. Different job titles, if they entail similar responsibilities, cannot be compensated at different levels.    

    When employees feel valued, they can perform at their fullest potential and highest productivity.

    The US workplace was designed by men, for men, in a different era. Today women account for more than 50% of the US population, and nearly that for the workforce. This is not about how to fit women into the mold as it exists. It’s about creating a new work model that engages and promotes men and women, on an equal playing field. For true change to happen it must start at the top, with the leadership team, and with a new vision and design of what a truly inclusive workplace can look like.

    Help is here.

    And, if you need help, please contact us about our training, including “Men and Women Working Together” and “Building Highly Effective Diverse Teams” and coaching for leaders.

    Reprinted with permission from ExecutiveDiversity.com https://www.executivediversity.com/2020/02/03/the-era-and-women-in-the-workplace-2020/

  • 20 Mar 2020 3:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The intercultural field has lost another pioneer. Over the decades of my connection with SIETAR International and now USA, I have been writing the obituaries for leading interculturalists such as Peggy Pusch, Edward T. Hall, David Hoopes, Robert Kohls, and Paul Pedersen, as well as less well known interculturalists such as Helen McNulty, Don Henderson, Judee Blohm, and Robert Brown. Paying tribute to people who have enriched our field and our lives has been important to me to do. It reminds us that we are not in this business alone, we have had solid support from the research, writings, teachings, and personal example of many. Each death leaves a hole in the fabric of SIETAR. Fortunately, SIETAR is made of strong cloth and we go on without them, while remembering them in an obituary, which means they may be lost but not forgotten. I know that is a cliché but it’s also the best way to describe what I am trying to do. I try to capture the person’s worth and contributions to the intercultural field, and to give it a personal touch as much as possible. Mostly the people are known to me but sometimes as in the case of Geert Hofstede, I didn’t know him as a friend but mostly by reputation. When you hear of the death of an interculturalist, please let me know and if you knew the person, add your personal touch to the message. We can create a tribute together.  (Sandra Fowler)


    A very kind man, generous with his time and ideas, Geert Hofstede died at age 91 on 12 February 2020. His son Gert Jan Hofstede reported that he was ready to go and surrounded by family. Hofstede’s research that formed the foundation of his book Culture’s Consequences, inspired much more exploration and inspection of cultural dimensions. Hofstede was trained as an electrical engineer but found that he preferred understanding people to understanding machinery. He joined the Personnel Research department of IBM international where he embarked on his seminal research. 

    Geert’s son writes: Under Geert's impulse, IBM collected opinion survey data from across over 50 countries. They were about mundane matters such as salary, tenure, working relationships. What Geert discovered is that it did not matter much whether a respondent was white- or blue- collar, male or female, new or ancient. What did matter was from which country they came. e got a job at a management school in Lausanne and repeated his surveys on the international MBA students there. It yielded the same cross-national patterns. He then put in almost ten years of study. At their end, he offered his fat manuscript to sixteen publishers, who all refused it. Then he tried Sage, and got another refusal letter, followed from an acceptance letter from the highest boss – a woman. She came up with the catchy title “Culture’s Consequences” (1980).

    On the IAIR blog Gary Fontaine reminisced about a time when Geert visited his graduate course "INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION AT HOME AND ABROAD" in the School of Communications at the University of Hawaii.  “The topic for that day was a continuation of our look at dimensions of cultural difference, particularly focused on "Dr. Hofstede's" famous "power distance," "uncertainty avoidance," "individualism" and "MASCULINITY."  And my opening intro, as planned, to my students was that that dimension that Geert labelled "masculinity/femininity" was--in less “sexist” terms--"work centrality."  And with that critical statement, Geert exploded, I exploded, and most of my students said later it was the most thrilling, live, academic experience in their young lives.  He and I later hugged ... as we do in Hawaii.”

    Pawel Boski also wrote: “To me, and to my students whom I teach about Hofstede's contributions, Geert has a solid place in history, as the pioneer of measuring cultural dimensions. I think this is beyond doubt and discussion. And this is much. It does not matter, in my opinion, that with time these dimensions turned out to be conceptually questionable and empirically not valid. This happens often and this is what science means: always in pursuit of improvement and correcting its own shortcomings and limitations. I truly believe, this approach has more virtue than quoting and using Hofstede (1980-2001) without sufficient reflexivity to the fact that the world has changed dramatically since his studies were initiated over 50 years ago…We often say, it is important to differentiate the Person and keeping Him in Good Memory, from the Deed, which may be looking Great at a time, and then may receive criticism, without The Person losing His stature. We are Humans (great and limited at the same time), not saints.”

    Gert Jan concludes his memories of his Father: “All in all, Geert’s story is one of remarkable perseverance, acuity of vision, cross-disciplinary endeavour and serendipity. Fortunately, many others have thought to extend or build upon his work. This is how it should be. We need to move on in our 21th century – but Geert’s messages should be in our backpacks.”

    Gert Jan and his father, Geert Hofstede (1928-2020)

  • 20 Mar 2020 3:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear IACCM Members and friends,

    we are happy to invite you to have a close look at the current 
    EJCCM Special Issue on: "Intercultural Competencies in a Changing Complex World"
    More information online 

    Guest Editors:
    Dr. Barbara Covarrubias Venegas, University of Valencia, Spain
    Prof. Marie-Therese Claes, Louvain School of Management, Belgium

    All papers are refereed through a peer review process. All papers must be submitted online. To submit a paper, please read 
    our Submitting articles page.

     Important Dates  
    Manuscripts due by: 31 May, 2020
    Notification to authors: 31 July, 2020
    Final versions due by: 30 September, 2020

    If you have any queries concerning this special issue, please email the Guest Editors at Dr. Barbara Covarrubias Venegas at 

    With our best wishes,
    Barbara Covarrubias Venegas
    IACCM Secretary General

  • 20 Mar 2020 3:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • March 19, 2020 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “From Intercultural “Lessons” to Intercultural “Insights” with Certified ICF Coaches Manuela Marquis and Jimena Andino Dorato. Click here view the recording of this Webinar.

      April 14, 2020 – SIETAR USA WEBINAR: “Change Management with Insight from Brain Science” with Dr. Mai Nguyen-Phuong, Associate Professor at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Visit  SIETAR USA April Webinar to register!

      October 7-11, 2020 – SIETAR USA Nation Conference: “Mind, Culture, Society” Join us in Omaha, Nebraska, USA, for SIETAR USA’s National Conference!

    • ·      CFP COMING SOON!
    • ·      The SIETAR USA room block is OPEN! Make your reservations today; visit Hilton Omaha to book your room(s).
    • ·      Visit the SIETAR USA website for conference logistics: 2020 Conference


    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 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.

    March 19: St. Joseph’s Day, in Western Christianity the principal feast of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    March 20-21: Nowruz/Norooz, Persian New Year, a day of joy, celebration and renewal. It is held annually on the spring equinox.

    March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed annually in the wake of the 1960 killing of 69 people at a demonstration against apartheid pass laws in South Africa. The United Nations proclaimed the day in 1966 and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

    March 25: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a United Nations international observation that offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. First observed in 2008, the international day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

    March 31: International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated to bring awareness to transgender people and their identities as well as recognize those who helped fight for rights for transgender people.



    April is Celebrate Diversity Month, started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. By celebrating differences and similarities during this month, organizers hope that people will get a deeper understanding of each other.

    April is also Autism Awareness Month, established to raise awareness about the developmental disorder that affects children’s normal development of social and communication skills.

    April 2: World Autism Awareness Day, created to raise awareness of the developmental disorder around the globe.

    April 8: Buddha Day (Vesak or Visakha Puja), a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. It falls on the day of the full moon in May April and it is a gazetted holiday in India.

    April 8: Lailat al Bara’a, also known as Barat, or Night of Forgiveness, an Islamic holiday during which practitioners of the faith seek forgiveness for sins.

    April 13: Vaisakhi (also known as Baisakhi), the celebration of the founding of the Sikh community as the Khalsa (community of the initiated) and the birth of the Khalsa.

    April 17: The Day of Silence, during which students take a daylong vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.


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

  • 11 Feb 2020 8:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The oft-repeated phrase “it takes a village..” is especially true for creating the SIETAR USA national conference. There are some similarities between SIETAR USA and a village, although it’s not an exact fit. We have a leader (currently a headwoman) as many villages do, we meet together on a regular basis, our population is larger than a hamlet but nowhere near the size of a town. Villages are settled around a central point and SIETAR USA serves as a central point of connection for people from many cultural and professional backgrounds who explore differences on multiple levels; engage in cutting-edge research related to cultural dimensions; search for and provide avenues to effective relations across cultures; and work to expand worldviews and build skills for successful interactions in intercultural arenas.

                Putting on the conference requires the effort of a group within our village who bond to become the conference committee. A bit about our committee: Deborah Orlowski, PhD, volunteered (no arm twisting required) to chair the 2020 conference. Her PhD is in Transformative Learning: personal and organizational. During her career (she recently retired from her post at the University of Michigan) as a senior learning specialist she focused on personal and leadership development especially at the emerging leader level. Her co-chair is Tatyana Fertelmeyster (a little bit of arm twisting) who has chaired SIETAR USA conferences, was the 4th president of the SIETAR USA, and as founder of Connecting Differences consults with organizations, their diversity leaders, and diversity champions to create and improve their global and domestic diversity programs.

                The Program Chair is again Kwesi Ewoodzie who mastered the program platform last year and wanted to do it again. Kwesi originally from Ghana, has a PhD from University of Iowa. Currently in Atlanta he is the founder and managing director of Culture Beyond Borders.  The conference committee has filled out nicely and more conference committee members will be introduced in the March newsletter. We can still use some volunteers. Don’t miss the fun—let us know that you are interested.

                The conference theme for Omaha is Mind, Culture, and Society. Join us to explore connections between Mind, Culture, and Society. How does the intersection of these three vital aspects change how we view and react to the world around us?  The schisms in today’s world—rural/urban immigrant/citizen; and the gaps caused by differences in religion; race; gender; sexual preference, and politics—challenge us daily. How does a deeper understanding and intersection of these three factors enhance our capacity to bridge such schisms?  This conference will shine a light on the impact of emerging neuroscience applications, current perspectives on culture, and social parameters within the Intercultural and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion fields.

                I used to be one of those people who ignored the theme and participated just to be with a growing group of collegial friends, to find out what they had been doing all year, and to share what I was up to. I have changed my mind about themes. I participate still for the reasons I mentioned, but I like using the theme as a lens through which I view my own work as well as a clue to the overall content focus of the conference. Since the theme doesn’t always fit me exactly, I appreciate the flexibility to present in the general category of education, training, and research.

                Preparing the Call for Proposals is well underway. Watch for the announcement at the end of this month. And consider being a proposal reviewer. It’s the best way to get a sneak preview of the conference!

    Sandra M. Fowler
    President, SIETAR USA

    Join me in Omaha, Nebraska, October 7-11, for the national SIETAR USA Conference: 
    Mind, Culture, and Society!

    Knowing that territorial boundaries are fluid and documentation is disputed, SIETAR USA acknowledges and offers respect to the past, present, and future Traditional Custodians of the land where our 2020 conference will take place—the Omaha-Ponca and other Plains Tribes: the Oto, Pawnee, Winnebago, Sac, Fox, and Lakota Sioux.


  • 11 Feb 2020 7:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I get it. You’re concerned about being lambasted for using the wrong word or not having the most nuanced understanding of geo-politics. You don’t want to be put on the “hot seat” for committing a gaffe or being imperfect when it comes to understand diversity and inclusion. In other words, you are tired of the “woke” culture.

    And guess what? To some extent, so am I. I have been called an “Uncle Tom” for reasons that continue to befuddle me. I have been accused of supporting “respectability politics” as a Gay man. I have also been accused of being “comfortable with the oppressor.” And although those who know me personally and professionally would soundly reject those assessments, that fact that some would hurl those accusations is not really important in the larger scheme of things. Yet, as a consultant, professor, and speaker, the fact that I was said to not be “woke” was a stinging rebuke of my identity and even caused me (albeit briefly) to rethink whether I should engage in dialogue with others around diversity, inclusion, and equity issues. For a moment I thought, I don’t recognize the progressive world I thought I lived in anymore.

    Even after nearly 20 years of doing diversity and inclusion work, I continue to make mistakes and I continue to learn. And with any developmental model, shaming or cancelling people – which has become so prevalent with “woke” culture – is highly problematic, if not downright ineffective. Learners (which is what we are when engaging new cultures) are not likely to absorb new information and transform their behavior if the learning container feels punitive (Holley & Steiner 2005). If we make good-faith attempts at learning exceedingly risky, then the learner, ally, or new social justice adherent will simply avoid conversation or any attempt to become more culturally-intelligent for fear of walking onto a landmine. No one wants to feel like they are walking on eggshells in order to become more diversity mature. Learning must come with the appropriate space to take risks and learn from our mistakes without fear from judgment.

    However, as problematic as “woke” culture can be, status-quo culture is equally if not more problematic. When we stay “unconscious” and allow the traditional norms of white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism, classism, religiosity, ableism, and cisgenderism to burn incessantly without remedy or recourse, we are normalizing outcomes in which underrepresented cultures continue to suffer, struggle, and die. And this last point is not a matter of embellishment.

    Consider the following: on October 20th, millions of people across the world commemorated the Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor the lives of transgender and non-gender conforming people across the world. Unfortunately, in just this past year, 331 transgender people have been killed globally (Forbes, 2019). In the U.S., violence against the transgender community is at epic proportions and despite this fact, none of the current U.S. presidential candidates has addressed how they would deal with this issue in a forceful way. To be clear, this very fact is an example of people not being “woke” or mindful of the realities that exist around them.

    The very idea of being “woke” is not to castigate those who are uninformed or unsophisticated on particular topic, but to stir us from the painfully-quiet reality in which acts of violence and discrimination fester. When we are not “woke” or awakened to the suffering of our friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors, we are helping to preserve a status quo that destroys the soul and conscience of our fellow global citizens. In fact, the status quo prevents too many from becoming “woke” to their own potential and unlimited capability. Given the geo-political realities we are facing now – including climate change, automation, nationalism, and the like – we need every person to become woke and aware of their power in order to save humanity.

    So while I get fatigued when fellow social justice warriors and DEIB practitioners employ an arbitrary and unforgiving litmus test in assessing the bona fides of people who profess to love and support this work, I also understand the place from where it is coming. Marginalized people do not have the luxury of always watching those in privilege clumsily wade into waters of inclusion and equity. We need leaders and everyday citizens to be focused, intentional, curious, diligent, and empowered. We need people to act as advocates and not as armchair allies.

    In the end, I won’t blame you for not being perfect. Neither am I, and I don’t describe myself as “woke” in the strictest sense of the word. But I won’t live as a social sleepwalker either. My experience, my journey, and my consciousness cannot abide by you if you remain comfortable with the tragic reality that we are witnessing in 2019 and beyond. I cannot support being comfortable with the status quo.

    Dr. Joel A. Davis Brown is a consultant, coach, speaker, storyteller, and soon-to-be author based in San Francisco and Paris.

  • 11 Feb 2020 7:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Art inSight: Understanding Art and Why It Matters by Fanchon Silberstein, Intellect: University of Chicago Press, 2020, 196 pages. Reviewed by Craig Storti.

    Granted: This sounds like a book about art. So what’s it doing in the SIETAR newsletter? The answer is contained in the title and especially in the subtitle. The title can be read two ways: art in sight (something to do with looking at art) and art insight (something about what art can teach). And the subtitle expands on this dual purpose: this book will help you understand art, but it will also show you how understanding art matters, how it can change you for the better. And therein lies the intercultural angle, for it is Fanchon’s central thesis that if you actively engage with art—as opposed to passively observing it—you will learn about the mind and world of the artist and as a result have insights into your own mind and your own world. And if those worlds are very different—think artists from cultures and backgrounds other than your own—then engaging with art is inherently intercultural. But it is more than that: entering the world of the Other, in this case through art, opens you up to understanding difference and, with a little luck, to accepting or at least tolerating difference. And that’s why art matters

    In the book Fanchon quotes Picasso to the effect that a painting is not finished until the viewer arrives. This is that idea again that art is an exchange—Fanchon calls it a dialogue—between two people, two worldviews. It doesn't have to be an exchange, of course; it’s not as if there’s something wrong with just observing and reacting, with being pleased by and liking what you see or being put off and not liking it. But if you are so inclined and especially if you know how, you can turn that mere viewing, mere looking, into something much more, a learning experience—an insight—rather than just a moment of pleasure or displeasure.

    And that is Fanchon’s cause: to teach us how to move beyond observing art to engaging with it and experiencing the many benefits of so doing. Simply stated, Fanchon says you have to ask questions of art. She says that meeting strange art is like meeting a stranger, and just as asking questions of, developing a relationship with, and ultimately understanding a stranger will enrich your life, asking questions of art can provide the same kind of enrichment. “This book is about how to talk to art and listen to yourself. It invites you to find the life in seemingly inert objects—to give art…the capacity to look back, to answer.” But it’s not just about asking, however; you have to listen to the answers, and many times revise your thinking based on what you hear (or, more aptly, see). The entire process “is a demanding, perpetual act, but I think in order to live peacefully with differences, it’s the best we have—to look, ask, revise, correct—and ask the next question.” If you think all this is so much malarkey and not much fun besides, read pages 77-82 wherein a Persian miniature from 1520 and a 1971 American painting called Diner interrogate each other. You will be touched and humbled.

    What do you mean by asking questions of art? What kind of questions? Take the Persian miniature from 1520:

    What’s going on here? There are people in a garden.

    What are they doing? They appear to be talking.

    Why are they in a garden?

    Does the garden represent something? It represents paradise

    Is it mostly men? Mostly women? Mixed? Is that significant?

    Does the big tree represent something?

    Why is there a second, smaller tree?

    How to engage with art, then, is the central thesis of this book, but it’s full of provocative, related ideas about art—the meaning of perspective, the role of context, the nature of the observer—as well as many wonderful quotations, and lovely reproductions (the book is beautifully produced). Fanchon’s writing is immediately accessible, like she’s talking to you; this is not an art lecture but a conversation with one very engaging, knowledgeable lady.

    The above synopsis notwithstanding, Art inSight is not a diatribe or a stealth self-help book with pretty pictures to make the sermon go down better (although the pictures are pretty). It is earnest—Fanchon wants to bring people together in this age of polarities—but it’s not preachy, heavy-handed, or a polemic. 

    OK: Maybe it is a bit of a polemic, but you’ll enjoy your time with this woman so much, learn so much about art, and find Fanchon’s enthusiasm so infectious, you’ll be eagerly awaiting her next polemic.

    Full disclosure: I have the honor of being a long-time friend of Fanchon’s; it’s why I could not bring myself to call her Silberstein in this review (she’s not a Marine recruit, for heaven’s sake). I suppose I should have invited someone more objective to review this book, but to be honest I didn’t want anyone messing with my friend.

  • 11 Feb 2020 7:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    1. Why did you write this book?

    I had worked for many years running intercultural training workshops with participants from all over the world, and I was also a docent at the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of modern and contemporary art. I felt strongly that art was a dynamic pathway into understanding other cultures and our own. When we establish a personal connection to a piece of art, we have a chance to learn a great deal about ourselves and others.

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

    We can open deep pathways to understanding with others by searching for shared meanings. One way to do that is through dialogues with art, either one-to-one with just one viewer and one piece of art - or in groups, where several of us share perceptions and listen to one another’s insights.

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

    Some books that influenced me were not necessarily written by interculturalists but were exceptionally meaningful to me. Daniel Boorstin’s The Creators and David Bohm’s On Dialogue are among them. Robert Kohls’s Survival Kit for Overseas Living continues to be a useful guide because of its straight-forward and down-to-earth style.

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

    I am among the fortunate to have had a number of significant cross-cultural experiences. Several took place while sharing music or food.

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

    Observe closely, notice your own immediate judgements and avoid speaking them, Describe carefully, to yourself, what you see and feel.

    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.

    I wrote a book about using art as a form of intercultural communication because art is everywhere and reveals what one artist and, often, what whole cultures value. When we pay attention, art can give us insights that little else can.

  • 07 Feb 2020 3:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Did you know that the SIETAR USA webinars are recorded and you can listen to them at your convenience? You find them in the members section of the SIETAR USA website. Non-members can also access them for a reasonable price.

    The 2020 Webinar series got off to a dynamic start in January with Julia Gaspar-Bates who spoke to over 50 participants about style switching for multi-cultural groups. It was the most interactive webinar in a long time. It seemed that participants were hungry to share their best practices, ask questions, comment, and learn from the speaker and each other.

    The February webinar featured Amer Ahmed who explored intercultural frameworks for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion work. Amer was the closing keynote speaker for the 2019 SIETAR USA conference in Atlanta and from of the feedback we received we knew he needed to be part of our webinar series. His willingness to share his experiences making them relevant to the work of interculturalists, especially those working in the DEI field is quite a treat. He brings his identity as the son of Indian Muslim immigrants and extensive years as an intercultural and diversity consultant as the sources of a pivotal understanding of the depth of diversity and inclusion work.

    Amer explained how historically-based systems of power resulted in “invisibilizing” and marginalizing certain groups. Intercultural programs typically have not addressed power issues, while DEI professionals do not usually use a developmental approach. Amer said he found that using an intercultural approach makes the companies, students, and faculty he works with much more receptive to hearing the diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice messages. Some of the intercultural frameworks he uses are the DMIS developmental model, Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions, and Sorrell’s Intercultural Praxis Model. His comments on bridging the divide between intercultural and diversity work were insightful, challenging, and

    The March Webinar speaker is Joe Lurie who will address the impact of the media and polarization on our efforts to understand misunderstandings in the era of globalization. Addressing the implications of the West African proverb, "The Stranger Sees Only What He Knows," the webinar will explore the nature and sources of bias, misunderstanding and cultural disconnects in a hyper-connecting, often polarizing world. With YouTube, tweets, refugees and fake news rapidly crossing cultures without context, misunderstanding is more often the rule than the exception. University of California Berkeley International House Executive Director Emeritus Joe Lurie will examine what's often behind culture clashes in the news of the day, and in the worlds of business, religion, health care, technology and across generations. In the process, we'll come to see and hear that more is meant than meets the eye or the ear.

    Author of the award-winning “Perception and Deception, A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures” published by Cultural Detective, Joe Lurie is a former Peace Corps Volunteer, former COO of AFS/USA and past National Chair for NAFSA's Education Abroad section. Currently, Joe teaches intercultural communication and has been offering Cross-Cultural Communication workshops for a broad variety of organizations, including Google, American Express and the Institute of International Education. His work has been featured at the Commonwealth Club of California, the World Affairs Council and on NPR, PBS, C-Span's Book TV and in Harper's Magazine as well as US News and World Report.

    The April Webinar is going to be Mai Nguyen-Phuong-Mai speaking about change management with insight from brain science. She says that in the modern era of international business, the ability that individuals and corporations can adjust and change is critical. But we can’t turn away from a fact that change has a low rate of success. Only 25% of corporate change initiatives are successful over the long term. Old habits die hard. This presentation discusses the neurobiology of change and the challenges we face in change management. It uses insights from neuroscience to shed light into the reasons why change is so challenging and introduces a change management framework called STREAP-Be. This framework provides concrete strategies that can help individuals and organizations to face the challenges of cultural adaptation and creation, reaping benefit from being in sync with the dynamics of culture. A collective such as a company is not different from humans as a species or individual persons in the sense that its culture is both persistent and evolving. Humans may find it difficult to change, but we are built to adapt. And we are the only the species that can do so deliberately.

    Dr. Mai Nguyen-Phuong-Mai is Associate Professor at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Together with her study at King's College London in a Master program on Applied Neuroscience, she has been recognized as a bridging figure between interculturalism and cultural neuroscience. Her latest book Cross-Cultural Management with Insights from Brain Science adopts the notion that culture is dynamic, context is the software of the mind, opposing values coexist, change is constant, and individuals can develop a multicultural mind.

    What comes next, you ask? We have added a new member to the webinar team, Carolyn Ryffel. With her ideas and organizational skills, we will soon be able to post a schedule for the rest of the year.

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