Welcome to: THE INTERCULTURALIST: A PERIODICAL OF SIETAR USA

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  • 14 Jan 2021 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Click here to download a PDF of the full report.

    Thank you to all of the people who completed the Post-Conference Survey. We are pleased to report that just slightly over 50% of conference attendees completed the survey indicating a high degree of engagement. Your comments are greatly appreciated and will be carefully considered as we move forward with planning for the 2021 Conference in Omaha as well as for any future virtual conferences.

    Here is a summary of the data as well as the statistics for each of the questions. Overall, responses were very positive, with only between 1% to 8% of respondents selecting a Not Very or Not at All response. In addition, there were many comments submitted as well with either a clarification for the rating or a suggestion for the future. The majority of these comments were positive or were suggestions for what to include or revise for the next conference. This means that in most cases the favorable responses varied from 85% to 99% (Somewhat or Very). (NOTE: In some cases, there were a number of N/A responses which account for the difference in total percentages). The following report includes percentages and bar graphs of the data along with summaries and examples of the comments for the open-ended questions.

    Q1: To what extent did you feel energized by the overall SIETAR USA conference?

    The majority of attendees (99.33%) expressed a high level of energy around the conference, and several expressed how pleasantly surprised they were by this. We clearly exceeded expectations for energy and engagement in a virtual conference setting.

    Responses Percent Number of Responses
    Very 71.59% 63
    Somewhat 22.73% 20
    Not Very 2.27% 2
    Not at all 1.14% 1
    N/A 2.27% 2


    Q2: To what extent did you find the Remo “Ballroom” useful?

    The majority (77.28%) found Remo a useful (and powerful) tool, though several expressed that they wished more attendees had taken advantage of it. Quite a few people indicated that they had work and life distractions that prevented them from utilizing Remo as much as they would have liked.

    Responses Percent Number of Responses
    Very 47.74% 42
    Somewhat 29.55% 26
    Not Very 6.82%
    Not at all 0% 0
    N/A 15.91% 14


    Q3: How satisfied were you with the registration process?

    Nearly all found it very easy and straightforward and several expressed appreciations for Karen Fouts, our Administrative Director.

    Responses Percent Number of Responses
    Very 80.68% 71
    Somewhat 18.18% 16
    Not Very 1.14%
    Not at all 0% 0
    N/A 0% 0


    Q4: Now that you have experienced a SIETAR USA virtual conference, how likely are you to attend another one?

    A resounding 91% indicated they are very (81.82%) or somewhat (9.09%) likely to attend another SIETAR USA virtual conference indicating a high level of satisfaction for the conference.

    Responses Percent Number of Responses
    Very 81.82% 71
    Somewhat 9.09% 8
    Not Very 5.68%
    Not at all 2.27% 2
    N/A 1.14% 1


    Q5: What attracted you to this conference? (Check all that apply)

    The overall subject matter, quality, and reputation of presenters along with the price and ease of attending remotely were key among motivations to attend. Other comments indicated that they attended in order to present.

    Answer Choices

    Response # of respondents

    Intercultural / DEI subject matter

    89.77% 79

    Price

    54.55% 48

    Quality / recognition & reputation of presenters

    53.41% 47

    Opportunity to explore the organization

    25.00% 22

    Needed something to do

    3.41% 3

    Other (please specify)

    40.91% 36
    Total Respondents: 88


    Q6: What were highlights of this year's conference for you? (Check all that apply)

    Connecting with colleagues, the variety and quality of subject matter, networking with colleagues in Remo, dedicated conversations around Whiteness and antiracism, Global Storytelling, the opening keynote speaker, and the dance party were key among the highlights.

    Answer Choices Response # of respondents
    Variety of subject matter 66.28% 57
    Keynote speeches (Dr. Lena Crouso, Patricia Malidor-Coleman) 29.07% 25
    Morning wellness sessions 13.95% 12
    Margaret D. Pusch Founders Award Celebration 22.09% 19
    Mongolian Cultural Video Event (Thursday) 8.14% 7
    "Global Stories" Event (Saturday) 34.88% 30
    Dedicated Practitioners of Color sessions 16.28% 14
    Dedicated conversations on Whiteness & Anti-Racism 47.67% 41
    Opportunity to connect with colleagues and friends despite the pandemic 80.23% 69
    Unique networking experience in the Remo platform 47.67% 41
    The final Celebration/Virtual Dance Party on Zoom 25.58% 22
    Other (please specify) 23.26% 20

    Total Respondents: 86


    Q7: Were there any areas in which this year’s conference missed the mark for you? (Check all that apply)

    Responses regarding duration of conference expressed a desire for the conference to have been shorter (3 days) and not to go over a weekend. Overall, there was enthusiasm for the conference but would have preferred a slight adjustment in timing. There were a few comments regarding specific speakers or sessions and a few regarding the technology and time zone issues. These are addressed more fully in the narrative of the open-ended comments at the end of this recap.

    Answer Choices

    Response

    # of respondents

    Duration of conference (Invited Workshops day plus 5 days of sessions)

    35.21%

    25

    Too complex to navigate

    4.23%

    3

    Topics not relevant

    5.63%

    4

    Concurrent sessions not relevant

    4.23%

    3

    Poor quality of Keynote Speakers and/or special events

    5.63%

    4

    Too expensive

    5.63%

    4

    Too many technology issues

    11.27%

    8

    Other (please elaborate)

    71.83%

    51


    Q8: Including the Pre-Conference Invited Workshops, approximately how many of the 6 days (October 7-13) did you attend the conference?

    Work and life conflicts played a significant role in limiting people’s attendance that are different for a virtual conference than for an in-person conference.

    Answer Choices

    Response

    # of respondents

    1 Day

    3.37%

    3

    2 Days

    2.25%

    2

    3 Days

    14.61%

    13

    4 Days

    17.98%

    16

    5 Days

    13.48%

    12

    All 6 Days

    24.72%

    22

    Just a few hours here and there

    13.48%

    12

    Other (please specify)

    10.11%

    9

    Total Respondents: 89


    Q9: Assuming next year’s conference is in-person, is there a component of this virtual conference that you’d like to see incorporated into the in-person conference?

    Many respondents expressed an appreciation for the increased ability for global colleagues to participate and encouraged the option for future virtual conferences. There was also an interest in exploring ways to include some virtual aspects such as the pre-conference workshops and global storytelling prior in the in-person conference as well. These are being considered.

    Q10: What other feedback about the conference would you like to share?

    65 of the 89 respondents replied to questions 9 & 10. All comments have been archived and are being fully considered as planning proceeds for the 2021 Conference. Thank you all for your comments, they are most helpful as we plan how best to meet the conference needs of our constituents. More details of these comments are provided below.

    Q11: Was this your very first SIETAR USA conference?

    Nearly one-third (30.68%, N=27) of the 88 respondents indicated this was their first SIETAR USA conference.

    Q12: If this was not your first SIETAR USA conference, when did you last attend?

    By far, the majority who attended in the past had attended in the last 5 years.

    Q13: Are you interested in contributing as a volunteer to the 2021 Conference Team or other SIETAR USA committees such as Mentoring, Communications, Membership, etc.?

    There were 85 respondents to this question. Of those, 24.71% (N=21) indicated an interest and an additional 28.24% (N=24) said “maybe”. That’s over 50% of respondents who indicated an interest in being involved in the next conference. That’s amazing! Thank you, if you left your contact information, we will reach out to you as opportunities arise, or you may contact us at conferencechairs@sietarusa.org or conferenceoversight@sietarsa.org.



    Review of additional comments to open-ended questions or in comments sections.

    Comments submitted fell into three main categories: things that worked well, highlights, and areas for improvement.

    Things that worked well: A great appreciation was expressed for the ability to assemble people from all over the world and to engage in meaningful discussions in concurrent sessions, breakout sessions, and networking in Remo. The overwhelming majority indicated high levels of satisfaction for the organization and management of the conference with special thanks to Brett Parry and Karen Fouts. Most respondents found the access to the conference platforms (Remo and Zoom) fairly easy to navigate, and many expressed surprise over the level of energy, engagement, and connectedness they experienced in a virtual setting. In fact, 91%of respondents said they would be likely to attend a future virtual SIETAR USA conference. Additionally, 24.71 %indicated a strong interest and an additional 28.24%said they might be interested in volunteering for future conference planning. That’s over 50%of respondents indicated an interest in being involved in the next conference. That’s amazing! Thank you, if you left your contact information, we will reach out to you as opportunities arise, or you may contact us at conferencechairs@sietarusa.org or conferenceoversight@sietarsa.org.

    Highlights: Some of the highlights mentioned were the pre-conference workshops, the invited workshops, the general quality of the sessions, the opening keynote address, and networking with colleagues from around the world. A few respondents even said they thought the networking in Remo was easier than in-person and suggested trying to replicate it at the in-person conference. The global storytelling session also received a number of special mentions and requests for that to continue were made. Finally, the dance party was a big hit.

    Areas for improvements: While the majority of respondents expressed high levels of satisfaction, there were areas identified for improvement. These comments are greatly appreciated as it allows concrete ways to enhance our conference offerings and better meet the needs of all of our constituents.

    The most frequent comment involved the length of the conference. Many expressed a feeling that it was too long and that attending sessions over a weekend did not work in a virtual setting. Managing work and family schedules for virtual conferences are different than for an in-person conference. Duly noted.

    A few people noted some technical difficulties and having experienced presenters who had technical issues. Several suggestions were made for how to address these issues through more training and guidance in advance and for alternate hosting platforms to consider. These have been compiled and shared with the 2021 conference planning team. While those who participated in the Remo networking sessions generally enjoyed them, several indicated that they were sometimes sparsely attended. We will pay particular attention to ways to familiarize people with Remo in advance and to encourage and enhance attendance in such sessions in the future. Additionally, we can enhance our pre-conference technology training for both attendees and presenters to ensure a smoother, glitch-free experience. While there are other conference platforms that may provide a more seamless experience, they may or may not be within our budgetary capacity. A goal of SIETAR USA has always been to keep our registration fees as low as possible. We will, however, continue to review technology options to provide the best possible experience at an affordable price. If anyone has specific platforms you wish us to consider, please feel free to forward those options to us at conferencechairs@sietarusa.org or conferenceoversight@sietarsa.org.

    Appreciation for recorded sessions was expressed, along with some frustration that it has taken so long to make those recordings available. This process is definitely something to work on for a next virtual conference. Now that we know what some of the obstacles are for hosting all those files and making them available, we will be able to do so sooner next time.

    There were a few comments regarding the relevance and fit of certain presentations for the audience. This will also be taken into consideration in future planning. With respect to concurrent sessions some felt sessions were too basic and self-congratulatory, and others felt they were too advanced. We can explore ways to address these concerns through better labeling as our conference attendees include both experienced as well as new practitioners. This year may have presented a bit of a unique situation with people being overly eager to connect with colleagues given all the lock downs of COVID-19 and tensions felt around the world that led to an emphasis on supporting and congratulating our colleagues more than is typical. While expressed by only one respondent, it is worthy of reflection and examination. Is this a trend within SIETAR USA and what is the impact if that is so?

    Finally, and certainly not least, were concerns expressed regarding the POC and Antiracism group sessions. The majority of respondents expressed appreciation for these sessions and encouraged their continuation, even offering suggestions to enhance them and to add a follow-up joint session. However, there were a couple of respondents who were dismayed by what they perceived to be the exclusive nature of these meetings. They felt that an organization such as SIETAR USA, whose mission it is to bring people together and increase understanding, should not host meetings where attendance is limited. There was a feeling that other groups, such as Jewish or Native Peoples, felt excluded and that the real value is when diverse groups can share with and learn from each other. Creating an organization where our BIPOC colleagues feel welcome and represented is of paramount importance to SIETAR USA and the Board of Directors. It is a sensitive subject, though not one we wish to shy away from. As an organization we have struggled with how to navigate this issue and understand it is important that we carefully consider the language we use to describe such meetings and to be clear about our intentions with respect to them. This is a bigger issue than can properly be addressed in a post-conference survey recap, but it is one that engages the Board of Directors and that will be considered with great care.

    Again, thank you to all who have provided feedback on the 2020 conference. It is greatly appreciated. We are indeed fortunate to have such engaged and enthusiastic group of colleagues.

    Comments: Here is some of the feedback that we received. Thank you to everyone for sharing your insights, experiences, suggestions, feelings, and impressions.

    “Based on the zoom fatigue I had been feeling, I thought I would be happy only attending a few sessions. Somehow the SIETAR community really pulled me in and I couldn't seem to get enough. I only wish I had set aside more time for networking. It was more fun in Remo then I thought it would be. Thanks to all of the planning committee for a fantastic conference experience!”

    “The Invited Workshops were a highlight. I attended all 4 and appreciated that they were all so different and that they had terrific presenters who knew their stuff. Kudos!”

    “It was wonderful to have SIETARians from so many parts of the world attend, something that would normally be more prohibitive in an in-person conference. It would be nice to offer this in the future for those unable to travel as it enriched the dialogue.”

    “I thought it was an excellent conference! I enjoyed the opportunity to connect virtually with others in the field. I came away with many new ideas to implement in my work. It was well organized, easy to navigate and the virtual platform made it easy to attend all sessions and meet new people! Thank you!”

    Thank you to Emily Kawasaki for creating such a great representation of the 2020 SIETAR Virtual Conference with words taken from the post-conference survey comments. You won't want to miss the next one!



  • 14 Jan 2021 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Evolution of Change: From Revolutionary to DEI Interculturalist
    Presented by Elmer Dixon

    Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM Eastern Time

    Registration link: https://www.sietarusa.org/event-4116382 

    Longtime community activist Elmer Dixon traces his activist beginning to Stokely Carmichael, a leader in the Black Power movement: “Stokely’s message of racial pride and unity made us realize that Black is beautiful.” The goals of the Black Power movement went beyond civil rights to human rights—by any means available. From Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter, Dixon says knowing who you are and choosing your own labels is of utmost importance. Labels can hold psychological power: liberal reformer, radical activist, revolutionary, revolutionary social activist. In Dixon’s experience, individuals don’t seek out labels, and likewise, groups tend to reject labels imposed on them. Transformation is recognizable only in hindsight—going through an evolution, you often aren’t aware that a transformation is happening. In this webinar, Dixon will share with us his journey from Revolutionary to DEI Interculturalist, two labels that he gives himself. Experience his remarkable journey of transformation through the labels that he acquires, tries on, casts off, outgrows, and continues to redefine on his own terms. In sharing his story, Dixon expands our understanding of the DEI Intercultural field.

    ELMER DIXON has been an activist for social change and in the struggle for justice since the Black Power Movement of the 1960’s reached him in his Seattle neighborhood. At that time, Seattle’s Central District was a melting pot neighborhood, where he and his siblings learned to judge a person by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. In 1968, inspired by Stokely Carmichael—and after meeting Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party—Dixon and his brother Aaron founded the Seattle Black Panther Party. As a Black Panther leader, Dixon helped organize Police Alert Patrols to monitor and halt police abuse, along with the Children’s Free Breakfast Program, Free Medical Clinics and Food Programs. Later, as Director of a Girls and Boys Club, he continued his work in disenfranchised communities to deliver better services. His career and activism continued as EEO Officer for Seattle Parks and in the Mayor’s Cabinet before joining Executive Diversity Services. Continuing his passion for social justice, Elmer has worked in the field of Human Rights, Multiculturalism and Inclusion for the past 35 years and now serves as President of Executive Diversity Services.


  • 14 Jan 2021 1:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy New Year Colleagues and Friends!

    2020 is now behind us, and as we start a new year, we at SIETAR USA are looking forward to offering you a year of full of professional development programming. We have monthly Zoom webinars lined up for the entire year with some amazing speakers, so please be sure to sign up to attend! As mentioned in the previous newsletter, the Mentoring Committee will soon be sending out a survey and more information on the program to those of you who signed up to be mentors and mentees. So be sure to check your emails later this month! I believe we have created an engaging program for both mentors and mentees, and we are looking forward to getting it started.

    We are still looking for more mentors, so if you are interested, please contact Cheryl Woehr, Professional Development Director at profdevelopment@sietarusa.org.

  • 14 Jan 2021 12:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On January 18th, the United States celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday recognizing the and celebrating of the Civil Right leader’s work, life, and legacy. Also known as MLK Day and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this federal holiday falls on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. However, this federal holiday differs from others because it is “a day on, not a day off” and is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all U.S. Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. (“MLK Day of Service”, 2021) It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing.

    As we enter 2021, the significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is even more palatable. Born in 1929, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was dedicated to his faith, his family, his community, his country, and the Civil Rights movements. He attained his Doctorate in Theology and became a Baptist Minister renowned for his simple yet powerful oratories. The eloquence and sentiments of his written and spoken words echoed the desire of so many and have become near universal beliefs. (“Significance of Martin Luther King Day”, 2021)

    Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates the life and legacy of a man who sowed the seeds of hope and healing in the United States. We remember his contributions as America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but also led a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality. Through his words and actions, he taught timeless values such as courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility, and service. These values defined his character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit. (“Significance of Martin Luther King Day”, 2021)

    This day also commemorates Rev. Dr. King’s great dream was of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace, and reconciliation. He hoped and prayed for a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. On this day, we are called to volunteer and celebrate the values of equality, tolerance, and interracial unity that he expressed in his great dream for America. (“Significance of Martin Luther King Day”, 2021)

    No other day of the year brings so many people from diverse cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of togetherness. No matter one’s ethnic, racial, or cultural background, everyone is part of the great dream that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nurtured for America. It is a peoples' holiday and everyone is encouraged to celebrate by connecting with others and practicing the shared cultural values of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (“Significance of Martin Luther King Day”, 2021)

    Written by: Emily Kawasaki



    Works Cited


  • 14 Jan 2021 12:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    January 19, 2021 – SIETAR Europea WEBINAR: “Extending the paradigm: From Diversity & Inclusion to Belonging & Wellbeing” with Vincent Merk. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/sietar-global-events/ to register!

    January 27, 2021 –SIETAR TRI-STATE NY-NJ-CT WEBINAR: “Embedding Intercultural Fluency Training in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Transformation” with Nitin Deckha PhD, CTDP, MCATD. Visit https://lnkd.in/dNSNhyn to register!

    February 3, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR“Storytelling & Anti-Racism: There are two sides to every story experience” with Christine Taylor. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/sietar-global-events/ to register!

    February 10, 2021 – SIETAR USA WEBINAR“Evolution of Change: From revolutionary to DEI interculturalist" with Elmer Dixon. Visit https://www.sietarusa.org/event-4116382 to register!

    February 12, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Lost in connection? What differentiates a great virtual-space-leader from a great physical-office-leader?” with Nina Dziatzko and Barbara Covarrubias Venegas. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/sietar-global-events/ to register!

    February 16, 2021 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “Modern Russia: Destroying Myths and Stereotypes” with Marina Dzhashi. Visit https://www.sietareu.org/events/sietar-global-events/ to register!

    January

    World Braille DayJanuary is National Braille Literacy Month, which recognizes and honors the legally blind and visually impaired. The mission of this month is to raise awareness of the importance of Braille to the blind and visually impaired community. The month of January was chosen to honor Louis Braille, who was born on January 4th, 1809.

    January 13: Korean American Day is a holiday observed on January 13th that commemorates the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States in 1903. The holiday was established in 2003 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Korean Immigrants.

    January 14: Thai Pongal, celebrated in India and Sri Lanka, is a harvest festival that occurs between the last day of Margazhi and the third month of Thai in the Tamil calendar. It is one of the few Hindu holidays that is based on a solar calendar instead of a lunar one. That’s because its celebration is to venerate and show appreciation to the Sun God for a bountiful harvest.

    January 17: World Religions Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in January. It was established by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States in 1950 to encourage interfaith understanding.

    MLK DayJanuary 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorates the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and an activist for nonviolent social change until his assassination in 1968.

    January 25-26: Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, a time of renewal through sacred and secular practices.

    January 26: Australia Day is the official national holiday of Australia.

    Holocaust Day of Commemoration January 27: The International Day of Commemoration to remember the victims of the Holocaust. The anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945 and U.N. Holocaust Memorial Day.

    January 27-28 (sundown to sundown): Tu B’shevat, a Jewish holiday recognizing “The New Year of the Trees.” It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. In Israel, the flowering of the almond tree usually coincides with this holiday, which is observed by planting trees and eating dried fruits and nuts.

    January 28: Thaipusam or Thaipoosam, is a festival celebrated by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai, usually coinciding with Pushya star, known as Poosam in Tamil.

    February

    African American History Month 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 1: National Freedom Day, which celebrates the signing of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1865.

    February 2: Candlemas – A Christian holiday that celebrates three occasions according to Christian belief: the presentation of the child Jesus; Jesus’ first entry into the temple; and Virgin Mary’s purification.

    February 2: Setsubun-Sai (Beginning of Spring), the day before the beginning of spring in Japan, celebrated yearly as part of the Spring Festival.

    February 3: Four Chaplains Sunday commemorates the 55th anniversary of the sinking of the United States army transport Dorchester and the heroism of the four chaplains aboard.

    February 6: Waitangi Day is a public holiday in New Zealand that celebrates the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The Maori celebrate by taking part a variety of cultural traditions. For some people, the holiday is the opportunity to reflect on the treaty and its historical impact and long-term effects.

    February 11: National Foundation Day is a national holiday in Japan. The holiday serves a dual purpose in the country. It celebrates the creation of Japan as well as the creation of the imperial line and the ascension of the first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu. It has been celebrated for many years throughout Japan’s history, although its name has changed over those years.

    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 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 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 21: International Mother Language Day is a global holiday that celebrates and honors diversity in the languages of the world and to promote cultural and linguistic diversity. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the holiday in 1999.

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


  • 14 Jan 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Write to usThe SIETAR USA Newsletter “The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA” encourages letters to the Editor. Please know that your comments are welcome and some will be published and become part of the archives.

    This is your invitation to be part of this exciting virtual community of interculturalists. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to truly connect with other members through thoughtful and considered interaction.

    Please submit your contributions to the SIETAR USA Editorial and Communications team at editor@sietarusa.org.


  • 11 Jan 2021 3:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Friends and Colleagues of SIETAR in the USA and around the World:

    Terrorism is defined in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).

    Drawing on this clear and concise definition, we call the mob action against the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 exactly what it was: domestic terrorism against U.S. government officials performing their duties in the center of U.S. government. The fact that it was instigated and encouraged by elected public servants at the highest levels within the government is a serious and profound source of concern, especially in light of those who actively took part.

    On behalf of SIETAR USA, its Officers, Board of Directors, and Advisory Council, we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the violent, criminal, and seditious acts perpetrated by these anti-democratic, anti-republican, xenophobic, racist, and un-American individuals and groups.

    The FBI is seeking to identify individuals who took part in this insurrection in Washington D.C. They are accepting tips and digital media depicting rioting and violence in and around the U.S. Capitol on January 6. If you have any information, you are strongly encouraged to visit fbi.gov/USCapitol.

    To our continued efforts to combat hatred and facilitate communication and respect—our work is more important now than ever. Together, we will grow stronger. Join us.

    Brett D. Parry, President

    SIETAR USA


  • 14 Dec 2020 9:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sandra M. FowlerPresident SIETAR USA

    It was 10 years ago this month when my beloved husband suffered a massive stroke that took away his ability to speak, write, or use a computer. The ensuing 4+ years was a daily lesson in the importance of language for our ability to communicate. Of course, as we interculturalists know well, there are some non-verbal alternatives, but nuance and complications are lost. Those years were also a lesson in humility. Despite all the work that the speech therapists and I did, his brain was too injured to be able to regain any real semblance of communication.

    As I think back on that time, I am saddened to realize the extent to which I was in denial. I just couldn’t accept that this had happened, nothing was helping, and many days it made me cross. So, I tried to focus on quality of life issues. We took little trips, went to movies, walked every day and the like. They were palliative, but what was missing was my ability to deal directly with what had happened thus, to help him with it as well.

    What does this have to do with what is happening today? For me, the lesson is that I need to deal with the pandemic, not by denying its reality or how devastating or disruptive it is. “Cope and move on” sounds good but not easy to do (now or then). I miss giving hugs to my kids and grandkids, and I need to let them know that I feel that way. I miss spending time in person with family and friends. That needs to be conveyed too. We all hope that vaccinations will make a difference—hold onto that hope. In the meantime, keep communicating through video calls, cell phone, whatever means you have at your disposal to safely stay in touch with people who are important to you. We are communicators—so do it!

    This issue of The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA is full of celebrations. It is a veritable feast of celebrations. When you read what Emily Kawasaki has written about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Festivus (for the rest of us) we hope that you will learn more than you knew before—it’s our gift to you. After all, the holiday season is about the importance of festivity in many forms. I suggest that you learn about Moritz Thomsen in Craig Storti’s BookMarks review. Be sure to read to the end so that you get to Mark Walker’s Reconsider List for a good chuckle. Patricia Coleman’s article reprises her ideas from her closing keynote speech at the end of the SIETAR USA virtual conference. Her thoughts are an inspiration and cheer. 

    Interested in cookies? Read Karen Lokkesmoe’s recipe. She brings her Norwegian heritage to her baking and to her new husband who she married in Norway in October. We say hail and farewell to two women as we welcome Dr. Michele Hanna as the new Leadership Development Director on the Board of Directors and say goodbye to her predecessor Katarina Salas-Natchova. The Board is a dynamic group of individuals who have bonded to make SIETAR USA a better place for everyone. We are excited to print Marcella Simon Peralta’s Letter to the Editor. Let’s keep that conversation going! As always, we let you know about the next month’s webinar, which in January will be Gigi de Groot from Sweden revealing what she knows about virtual teams. We also provide our Upcoming Events list where you can check what other SIETARs are doing and what is happening in the world in the next month. 

    This is my last Perspective article that I write as President of SIETAR USA. It has been an honor and privilege to serve you the past two years and I must admit that it has been a total joy! There were a few rough spots, but with help from the entire Board and our wonderful Admin Officer, Karen Fouts, I got through them and the Society is all the stronger for that. I have the entire Board and Membership to thank for the renewed interest in SIETAR USA. The best advertisement for our Society is you! Our incoming President, Brett Parry, has confirmed that he would like me to continue as the Newsletter Editor during my year as Immediate Past President—you’ll be hearing from me!

    Warm wishes for the holidays and the New Year!

    Sandy
    Sandra M. Fowler

  • 14 Dec 2020 8:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Patricia Malidor Coleman for The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA

    Let's keep "Moving ahead, learning from the global pandemic, Globalisciously® Stretching into Change." Since October 2020, a lot has happened, yet the year has gone by very fast and we are in December, getting ready for the year 2021. After a timely, first-ever, successful, virtual conference, SIETAR USA and the professional community of interculturalists, and D.E.I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) practitioners are embracing a global culture shock which they now realize they are equipped for with their own personal and professional experience of transitions, resilient journeys, and intercultural tools to move ahead. As the conference theme indeed indicated: "Moving Ahead: Learning from the Global Pandemic. Are you equipped? Are you ready?

    I know that many of you can't wait to put 2020 behind and start a new year. New year, New me!

    New Year’s resolutions forming in hope for better days. This is the trend, the “usual” talk we read, hear about, or even say on the eve of a new year. Hungry for "NEW" in all aspects of our lives such as health, finances, career and/or relationships—a tentatively scribbled plan of execution that more often than ever does not happen because “NEW” means “CHANGE.”

    “Change” is the magic word needed to evolve, transform and leap forward. “CHANGE” is the reality we faced in 2020 with the Corona virus altering our daily routines, turning the familiar into total uncertainty. “Change” that created the nostalgia for things to be “normal” again.

    It has been a challenging and painful year in many ways. This global killer called COVID19 has taken many lives around the world and plunged our global economy in a deep abyss, shaken our lives, separated us from family, friends, and even closed our borders interrupting the global travel many of us yearn for personally and professionally.

    We craved things we value most and what we craved most was the basic need for connection.

    Connection manifested when being in the presence of friends, family. We need physical connection such as the touch of a hand, a kiss, a hug—face-to-face celebrations, gatherings, meetings that nurture us in very special ways. Technology seemed to be the answer as platforms like Zoom created instant connection, bringing us together from all corners of the world. As artificial as it was, technology seemed to be the answer. However, the real answer came when we truly disconnected from the rat race, commute, noise, and over-scheduled agenda. We disconnected in order to reconnect to ourselves. Nature became our companion—birds singing, fresh cleaner air filling our lungs, silent nights soothing our hearts and souls. Mindfulness replaced our full minds. Self-care became a priority.

    We needed to reinforce our values, to nurture and grow Strength, Self-Care, Courage, Confidence, Connection, and Compassion. When we disconnected to reconnect with ourselves that allowed us to embrace a deeper connection. We were given that opportunity when the world seemed to stop. Our lives paused—frozen in time. While recognizing that this occurred, we had—and still have—the choice to fight in resentment and fear or choose to just be, nurture inner peace and build resilience. My friends, that is the toolbox we all have and need to use in our personal and professional lives.

    So, once again, as we are facing the year-end holidays cheering goodbye to 2020, saying hello to 2021, a year of change, ask yourself: “How can we once again, as we do each year, turn our backs on the immediate past that has shaped us and become who we are destined to be? How can we possibly build a better future without learning from our past?

    As the late Maya Angelou often quoted: “We can only know where we are going if we know where we've been!”

    So, in these final weeks of 2020, just as I did in my closing keynote of the SIETAR USA 2020 conference, entitled "Globalisciously® Stretching into Change", I invite you to mindfully embrace 2020 and all it has taught us. Remember: What does not kill you makes you stronger!

    In healing love for peace, health and prosperity to all.

    Globalisciously® yours,

    Patricia Malidor Coleman aka Ms. Globaliscious


  • 14 Dec 2020 8:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Craig StortiTWO BY MORITZ THOMSEN: Living Poor and The Saddest Pleasure

    Reviewed by Craig Storti

    There’s a movement afoot (led in part by Mark Walker, see the interview below) to elevate Moritz Thomsen to the status of a Very Important Writer, someone whose books stay in print for generations and get assigned in college literature classes, someone whose name every well-read person should know. And we here at BookMarks are happy to do our part. We briefly mentioned Thomsen in one of our previous columns (where we reviewed two Peace Corps memoirs), and now the time has come to bring him front and center.

    1985 Edition Cover Living PoorLiving Poor: An American’s Encounter with Ecuador (image is the cover second edition) is widely considered the quintessential Peace Corps memoir. With deepest apologies to all my Peace Corps friends, that’s damning with faint praise; Living Poor is a great memoir, period, and easily transcends both the Peace Corps and the memoir genres. It is the story of Thomsen’s close to four years as an agricultural development volunteer in Rioverde, an exceptionally poor village on Ecuador’s southern coast, but at a deeper level it’s the slowly unfolding story of a middle class, middle-aged American’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to understand poverty—or at least poor people. That Thomsen fails, or at least believes he has failed, does not detract from the power of the story, since in the end it is about his relationships with a handful of people, characters so beautifully drawn, so alive, that you care about them every bit as much as Thomsen. (If one is a writer or has any writing aspirations whatsoever, these characters are what might be called heartbreakingly alive, as in it breaks one’s heart to realize one could never create characters so real oneself).

    But I digress. Living Poor is mainly about chickens, eggs, pigs, corn, bananas, and the jungle. Thomsen’s Peace Corps assignment is to help poor farmers raise chickens and pigs, plant kitchen gardens, clear land so they can plant corn and coconuts—and assorted other first-world schemes not designed with dirt-poor farmers living at the edge of equatorial rainforests uppermost in mind. There are setbacks: the people are way too poor to afford chicken feed; the chickens die of cholera; the pigs break through weak fences and wander off; one good rain washes away everyone’s kitchen garden; corn stalks wither and die. The second half of the book deals with Thomsen’s attempts to start a farmers’ co-op whereby people for whom a stick of sugar cane is on occasion their only meal will learn to temporarily sacrifice immediate personal and family welfare for the slightly delayed promise of improved living standards for all. More setbacks follow.

    Above all Living Poor is the story of Ramon Prado and his wife Ester and, later, their little daughter Martita (destined to be Martin until she turned out to be a girl). Thomsen ends up caring so deeply about this family it hurts. And their love for him is total. The last paragraph of the book, as Thomsen comes to say good bye at the end of his time in Rioverde, a paragraph so lovely it would stand out by a mile in any other book, is pure Thomsen:

    So I drank the coffee, and Ramon told Martita to say good-by, pretending outrage because she was smiling, and then I said good-by to Ester, and everything was under control, everything like a dream. But as I stepped down off the porch to leave, Ester screamed, and I turned to see her, her face contorted with tears streaming down her cheeks. We hugged each other, and Ramon rushed from the house and stood on the brow of the hill, looking down intently into the town.

    Where else can you read anything as beautiful as that?

    You have to be in the mood for travel books; even the best ones are necessarily episodic, a series of vignettes, each delightful in itself, to be sure, but with the parts not always adding up to any particular whole, and the book, as a result, not building to the kind of climax readers expect as their reward for sticking with the author. For this reason, although I deeply admired Living Poor and its stunning sequel A Farm on the River of Emeralds, I’ve always been wary of The Saddest Pleasure, as I understood it to be mostly a travel book, meaning that I’d have to be in the mood. So, I have only read it just now so I could write this review.

    Cover image of The Saddest PleasureI should have known better; it’s Moritz, after all, who just can’t write a book that doesn’t cast a spell early on and grip you till the end. The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers is ostensibly the story of a trip Thomsen takes from his home in Quito to Rio and then up the Amazon from Belem to Manaus. But the book is mostly a journey into Thomsen’s past, specifically the story of his relationship with his father, a monster whom he loathed and in reacting to whom, he now realizes, he became the man we meet in the pages of his books, and the story of the final chapter of Thomsen’s relationship with Ramon Prado and his family, the hero of Living Poor and of A Farm on the River of Emeralds. In between these two gripping narratives, we get beautifully written glimpses of Brazil and the Amazon and marvelous character sketches of Thomsen’s travelling companions. It is a credit to Thomsen’s powers that although the journey is more or less a complete bust—he never even arrives in Manaus before the book ends—the reader hardly notices because the real journey here is almost entirely internal and completely compelling.

    There’s a lot of soul searching here, in short, and the only thing that can possibly save a book like this is that the soul in question is so fascinating and so skillfully probed—although the flawless prose helps—that you are on the edge of your seat. Preposterous, you’re thinking. How can even the best written soul searching ever hope to rise to the level of real drama? I have absolutely no idea; I only know the book works. The last few pages of the final chapter, when Thomsen recreates the two scenes that spelled the end of his relationship with Ramon, are deeply moving.

    Ah Moritz! We miss you. We miss the lovely books you will never write but most of all we Peace Corps veterans miss the chance to meet, or at least to correspond with, the only person, so far as we know, who was a WW II bomber pilot and a Peace Corps volunteer.

    Moritz Thomsen died in 1991. In his stead we have asked Mark Walker, a former Peace Corps volunteer and author of the memoir Different Latitudes, to do the honors in our author interview.

    1. What is it about Thomsen’s writing you admire so much, enough to undertake the crusade you have embarked upon?

    I have to agree with fellow author and personal friend of Moritz, Tom Miller (The Panama Hat Trail), when he said of Thomsen’s writing style, “[H]e pledged allegiance to nothing except his station as an expatriate. And as an expat, he was free to judge us all, an undertaking he finessed with acute observations, self-deprecation, and a flavorful frame of reference that ranged from a Tchaikovsky symphony to a Sealy Posturpedic mattress.” And from fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and author Paul Theroux: “Writing for him is a natural and instinctive act, like breathing.”

    2. Why do you think Living Poor has become such a classic? There have been lots of memoirs, including your own well-received Different Latitudes.

    Moritz was able to articulate like few others, the essence of being a Peace Corps Volunteer, as with this passage from the preface of Living Poor. “For those of us without fifty thousand dollars or so to invest in a pack trip through the Himalayan passes, the Peace Corps is perhaps the last great adventure available to Americans over eighteen years of age. The physical world has been mapped; but in the last analysis, the Peace Corps is an intellectual exploration, the chance (if you are patient enough) to enter in some degree into the hearts and minds and feelings of alien people with exotic cultures….”

    3. Do you have a favorite among his published works? Why?

    As a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who continued his overseas experience promoting local community development activities, The Farm on the River of Emeralds always resonated with me. But like many Thomsen enthusiasts, I’d wondered where his last, illusive manuscript was and how it might be published, bringing the number of travelogue classics to five. So, when Bad News from a Black Coast appeared on Amazon, published, I jumped with joy—at last, 28 years after his death. And it was worth the wait. Although those who have read Thomsen’s previous books will recognize more details and insights into characters and circumstances, this book is a standalone publication and includes several spectacular stories.

    4. What can people do to support your Moritz Thomsen mission?

    Please let me know about any letters and materials you know about Thomsen. He wrote thousands of letters to friends and writers around the world. You can let me know at Mark@MillionMileWalker.com. But first and foremost, share his work and those who have written about him with your friends so as to broaden the audience and appreciation of this iconic writer. Go to my website, www.MillionMileWalker.com under “Library” for reviews of all five of his books. Finally, I’m presently looking for a publisher for The Moritz Thomsen Reader: His Books, His Life and His Legacy Told by the Writers Who Knew Him Best, which will include essays about Moritz from well-known writers like Paul Theroux, Tom Miller and SIETAR’s own Craig Storti.

    5. From your own life, what is one of the most significant, most memorable cross-cultural experiences you have had?

    Undoubtedly, that would be the different worldviews and expectations with the love of my life, Ligia who is Guatemalan. I illustrate some of these differing expectations with my “She’d Reconsider List,” which are the items I might have shared with her to consider before agreeing to spend her life together with me:

    He will constantly embarrass you in social settings with his horrendous grammar and constant use of foul language picked up in various slums and rural settings.

    He’ll take you home to meet his family in the middle of winter, when it snows constantly, and the temperature rarely exceeds the freezing point.

    Every three years, he’ll ask you to pack up the children and all your earthly belongings and move to a different country, where you’ll not know a soul.

    His idea of success is helping the maximum number of extremely poor people he has never met before.

    6. If you could pass on only one insight/one lesson learned about crossing cultures to the readers of this newsletter, what would you say?

    I’m a firm proponent of Mark Twain’s quip, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”


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