Opening Keynote Speaker
The 2020 SIETAR USA VIRTUAL CONFERENCE opened with an air of excitement and optimism. The welcome and opening remarks by Sandy Fowler, Karen Lokkesmoe, Ph.D., Deborah Orlowski, Ph.D., and Dr. Sherri Tapp reminded us that conferences:
- provide an opportunity for interculturalists to get feedback on their early work.
- are a great time to meet others in the field and network.
- act as a cohort and support group.
- change, which helps us to improve our presentation and communication skills.
- give attendees the opportunity to travel to a new place and space – this virtual space is “our” space.
- are friendly, open, relaxed, inclusive spaces to meet with colleagues and make new friends.
Dr. Sherri Tapp introduced the opening keynote speaker, Dr. Lena Crouso. Dr. Crouso’s keynote address, “Love Through Bridges of Intersectionality”, reminded us that the excitement of the SIETAR Conference lifts us up and pulls us back into hope. The global pandemic has thrust us into chaos, a human space that has catapulted us in a new normal, unprecedented times – and yet, in the midst of all this, what has emerged is the best of humanity - neighborly love. Neighborly love is the essentiality of human love that crosses boundaries into local neighborhoods and drives us to ask emerging questions for humanity about equity, access, opportunity, and justice for all. Dr. Crouso highlighted the simple, profound ways for us to understand history, identity, and humanity – the bridges of intersectionality and our travels across these bridges amidst uncertainty.
Dr. Crouso reminded us that we, as intercultural and diversity professionals, must reflect on Dr. Dafina-Lazarus Stewart’s impactful writing “Diversity & Inclusion vs. Justice & Equity” and ask ourselves, “are these the words we live by?” As intercultural practitioners and front-line people, can we move people across bridges into this new normal? We are holistic bridge builders. We don’t have a moment, but we have a MOVEMENT before us – and assurance that humanity is bearing out the goodness of empowering and pursuing neighborly love that binds us all together.
Dr. Crouso ended her keynote address by answering two crucial questions, how can we live these lessons in daily life AND how can we ensure that people move from hospitality (i.e. assigning guest status as assimilationist/aculturalist space-owners) to being included (i.e. practicing inclusivity). To live these lessons in daily life, we must practice mindfulness, be present, practice active listening, and examine our posture. What posture do you take in everyday life with self vs. with others – is it humility OR authority/power/privilege? To ensure that people move from hospitality to inclusivity, we must eradicate power structures – those who control space and membership and move that power. We must be willing to pay the price and build allyship, and those in power must abdicate power.
Of the opening keynote address and speaker, one participant said, “I liked the ‘questions quote’ by Dr. Dafina-Lazarus Stewart. It really hit me.” One participant, who was attending the conference for the first time, said, “I had the experience of connection through Dr. Lena Crouso’s speech and words. I feel connected through this virtual space even though it’s my first conference!” Another participant summed up the topic nicely by declaring that, “Dr. Lena Crouso was authentic and open about intersectionality, which can sometimes be an awkward topic to discuss. She took a complex concept and made it into understandable, relatable idea.” Another participant said, “I loved setting the stage to tackle the multiple pandemics and the loving way with which Lena set the tone for increased understanding in these challenging times.”
Conference Highlights – Closing Keynote Speaker
The 2020 SIETAR USA VIRTUAL CONFERENCE closed with a feeling of celebration, gratitude, and joy. Sue Shinomiya introduced the opening keynote speaker, Patricia M. Coleman - aka 'Ms. Globaliscious'™, by saying, “Patricia is the quintessential professional - flexible, inclusive, brings people in, multi-everything. She always ends with the important question “how are you being Globaliscious today?” She is a visionary and asks us, “what is our vision for 2020?”
Patricia M. Coleman’s closing keynote, "Globalisciously® Stretching Into Change", was the perfect culmination for the 2020 Virtual Conference. As attendees of the first SIETAR USA Virtual conference, we are way ahead! This conference brought us inclusiveness, connectedness, and mindfulness. We know how to stretch into change, that’s what we are for! When we close one door, we open another one! In this case, we open the door into our future, into our new normal! Ms. Globaliscious™ spoke on how and why she came to be “Globaliscious”. Growing up with a diverse background, frequent questions created an identity crisis and attempts to validate herself and her family. Eventually, her response to questions of identity became, “I am Globaliscious!”. Her self-consciousness evolved into a new consciousness of self, the realization that all people are unique. She became self-confident. The ‘SC’ in Globaliscious is especially important because the it represents many things - spirit of community, shift into consciousness, sacred conscious, spiritual connection, self-care, shift to change, self-control, spirit of community, sense of compassion, stage of connectedness, space of collaboration, and space of creativity.
Ms. Globaliscious™ reflected on her time as the former SIETAR USA president as well as her life and career. During her time as the SIETAR USA president, her experience was collaborative - creating, planning, and planting seeds for future leaders. She reminded us that a legacy shouldn’t be one person, it should be collaborative. Legacy is a duty and responsibility. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. Their voices echo in our hearts, telling us what we must do. They laid the foundation and paved the way. Because of what they’ve done for us, we can learn from the global crisis and stretch into change globalisciously, because change is good.
The power of music is a Globaliscious way to connect with the world across cultures and languages, even if listeners don’t understand the words. Music heals the world. Ms. Globaliscious played Michael Jackson’s beloved song “Heal the World”. She reminded us that in the Globaliscious philosophy, we listened and feel with all of our senses. Music moves us so beautifully because it touches all of our senses. Ms. Globaliscious reflected that with music, she has made sense of these times. The important thing to remember is that it’s not what happens, but how you react that matters.
Healing the world is the mission of 2020. 2020 has shaken all of us, like a roller coaster. But the experience is not an obstacle, it’s an opportunity. The response to the pandemic is a quintessential example of the W-Curve Model of the Adaptation Process. We know that stretching into change is difficult but a natural part of life. We are facing a revolution, undeniable evolution, resistance, and resilience. The hope is that we end with a total renaissance, rebirth, a new us. As intercultural and diversity professionals, we can learn from the global crisis by moving ahead and helping others, standing by them as they change. Our job is to help the world navigate through differences, understanding, and accepting that the world is evolving.
Closing thoughts were added by Deborah Orlowski, Patricia Coleman and Sandy Fowler. Deborah shared how the Initial focus for the conference was on pandemic. But then George Floyd was murdered and the question about SIETAR USA’s vision changed. SIETAR USA asked the important questions, “What did we want to do? How can we set an example? How do we want to accomplish these things?” Sandy Fowler spoke on behalf of Karen Lokkesmoe and addressed any hesitation that people may have regarding joining the ‘inner group’ of SIETAR USA members. Sandy warmly welcomed all people and and shared that the inner group is very porous. She remarked that for those outside of the group, it’s easy for anyone to get involved. She also highlighted that there are many different volunteer roles that are open and available, and that SIETAR USA welcomes people to join the SIETAR USA family. She also reminded participants about the many benefit of membership.
Of the closing keynote address and speaker, one participant said, “[I am feeling] more Globaliscious than when it started! Feeling reenergized thanks to this great week together!” Another participant said, “Thanks for applying the adaptation curve to what so many are experiencing now--and for the term ‘Globaliscious”!”
Written by Emily Kawasaki