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  • 13 Feb 2022 8:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sandbox: a small space where children play and use their imagination, an open but finite space encouraging exploration and interaction with little threat of harm, a place where you can play without consequences

    Could there be a SUSA Sandbox? An informal gathering in the sandbox of platforms and applications? We need to know more about all those entities we encounter in the webinars and meetings so critical to our lives these days. 

    A sandbox is not a playground where people gather to actually play games. It’s more a place where people help each other and try things out in Zoom and other platforms.

    My current sandbox is Zoom; playing around and learning a lot of its potential but I’m in the sandbox alone! Looking for some playmates, imaginative, fun-loving to collaborate in our joint learning and development. An opportunity to share and pool our knowledge as we explore various platforms and applications. Also, a group to support each other when we need to practice using one of the platforms or apps.

     I envision two types of sandbox meetings for SIETAR USA members: (1) those planned in advance and (2) those in response to someone wanting to try something out and sending out a spontaneous alert. If you’d like to join this group, please contact me: carolynryffel@gmail.com.     

    By Carolyn Ryffel, MA, CPTD
    Integral Coach (New Ventures West)
    Intercultural Business Communication Coach and Consultant

  • 13 Feb 2022 7:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The first Saturday Seminar of 2022 dedicated to the memories of Andy Reynolds and Janet Bennett, was attended by 55 people interested in learning more about embedding diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in intercultural training and vice versa.

    SIETAR USA President Brett Parry opened the Seminar telling us about the Sydney Harbour Bridge that flies the flags of Australia and the state of New South Wales. However, the Aboriginal flag had not been flown despite a request that it be added to the other flags. The reason provided for not doing it was that it would affect the structural integrity of the bridge. It took 5 years to get it done—a good metaphor for the work that we do to help tear down and revise social and institutional structures to include all people equally. President Elect Elmer Dixon also told us that in his work over the decades DEI and intercultural have always gone together in everything he does. Elmer turned the program over to the 4 facilitators: Joel Brown, Justin Sitron, Tatyana Fertelmeyster, and Tamara Thorpe.

    Justin began the facilitated open forum by asking “what brought you here today and what do you want to leave with?” Prior to the Seminar, Joel Brown commented that his hope was for people to “think about their work and how to bring both sides to it, that the challenges are part of the work, and that this will be an opportunity to go deeper.” Some participant answers to Justin’s questions were:

    • Deeper engagement with colleagues in the space of DEI and Belonging.
    • To spend time with beloved colleagues and learn about the current thinking re. our topic.
    • Learn more about the intersections within JEDI and how to be more effective in this line of work.
    • I am co-chairing a DEI initiative for a business organization and am looking for information on how to link that with intercultural.

    Participants worked in breakout groups responding to more questions from the facilitators to unpack the concepts: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Social justice was defined and discussed as well. The robust discussion during the first part of the Seminar was evidence that people were engaged and willing to lean into their discomfort with challenging issues. It was evident throughout that people were applying what they were hearing and thinking directly to their work.

    The engagement of the participants continued in the second part of the seminar, which began with the quote “Diversity is a fact; inclusion is a practice; and equity is a goal.” Tamara added the word choice as in “belonging is a choice” and highlighted the importance of what these words mean in our practice. A participant offered: “Diversity is authentic; Inclusion is acceptance; Equity is awareness of access; Belonging is active engagement.” Several metaphors were offered including a garden, a house, and a party. Who gets invited to the party? Who doesn’t? Who does the inviting? How are people welcomed to the party? Do they feel like they belong?

    Bringing an intercultural lens or approach to diversity work has changed it over time, moving it away from what used to be called “shame and blame” sessions. In breakout sessions participants talked about their intercultural identity and inclusion identity, pointing out that the intersection of intercultural an inclusion exists within ourselves and that we need to do our own work to be effective trainers. The chat was loaded with insights galore. Tatyana concluded with her definition of tolerance: my ability to tolerate myself and to stay there and be present with your difference.

    It was clear that we want to connect and engage and that the Saturday Seminars could fill a gap. Watch for the announcement of the next one, (new topic, different facilitators) which is likely to be in May. Registered participants receive the recording as a benefit of paying the fee, however, we are making the recording available at a very reasonable price to people who could not attend. I’ve seen the recording and realize you can get a lot from it. Contact Karen Fouts at admin@sietarusa.org if you are interested.

    Karen Lokkesmoe asked, “where should (where do you want) this conversation to go next?” She would like to embed the conversation on the intersectionality of DEIB and Intercultural not only in ourselves and our work but also at the Omaha conference in November. Volunteering to work on this is project is an opportunity to continue the work we started today and to get involved.

    Sandra Fowler, Editor

  • 13 Feb 2022 7:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    SIETAR World:


    February 16, 2022 – SIETAR Nederlands WEBINAR: “Trends in cross-cultureel leiderschap anno nu” (“Trends in Cross-Cultural Leadership Today”) facilitated in Dutch. Visit SIETAR Nederland Events to register!

    February 16, 2022 – SIETAR Washington, D.C. WEBINAR: "Supporting Asian American, Pacific Islander & Indigenous Trafficking Survivors Through Intercultural Lenses" with Mei Tomko. Visit SIETAR USA Local Groups Upcoming Events to register!

    February 17, 2022 – SIETAR UK Talk: “OPEN University Distinguished Speaker Series: Intercultural Competence in the Workplace” with Prof. Mike Byram. Visit SIETAR UK Events to register!

    February 23, 2022 – SIETAR Europa WEBINAR: “HOW TO ROCK THE VIRTUAL SPACE: What are the key factors when designing EXTRAordinary and memorable virtual learning journeys?” with Dr. Barbara Covarrubias, FH-Prof. Dr. Eithne Knappitsch, Dr. Anna Zinenko, and Dr. Svetlana Buko. Visit SIETAR Europa Events to register!

    February 24, 2022 – SIETAR Switzerland Culture Club: “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” with Gundhild Hoenig and Tom Waterhouse. Visit SIETAR Switzerland Events to register!


    March 8, 2022 – SIETAR Switzerland WEBINAR: “Actioning Inclusion” with Ishita Ray, Nadege Minois and Vincent Morvan. Visit SIETAR Switzerland Events to register!

    March 10, 2022 – SIETAR USA WEBINAR: “Culture and the Dual Career Dilemma” with Yvonne Quahe. Visit SIETAR USA Events to register!

    Other Events:


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

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

    February 16: Magha Puja Day (also known as Maka Bucha), a Buddhist holiday that marks an event early in the Buddha’s teaching life when a group of 1,250 enlightened saints, ordained by the Buddha, gathered to pay their respect to him. It is celebrated on various dates in different countries.

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

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

    February 21: Presidents Day, a federally recognized celebration in the United States of George Washington’s birthday, as well as every president proceeding Washington.

    February 25–March 1: Intercalary Days or Ayyám-i-Há, celebrated by people of the Bahá’í faith. At this time, days are added to the Bahá’í calendar to maintain their solar calendar. Intercalary days are observed with gift giving, special acts of charity, and preparation for the fasting that precedes the New Year.


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

    March 1: Lailat al Miraj, a Muslim holiday that commemorates the prophet Muhammad's nighttime journey from Mecca to the “Farthest Mosque” in Jerusalem, where he ascended to heaven, was purified, and given the instruction for Muslims to pray five times daily. Note that in the Muslim calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Lailat al Miraj on the sundown of February 28.

    March 1: Mardi Gras, the last day for Catholics to indulge before Ash Wednesday starts the sober weeks of fasting that accompany Lent. The term “Mardi Gras” is particularly associated with the carnival celebrations in New Orleans, Louisiana.

    March 1: Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Though named for its former religious significance, it is chiefly marked by feasting and celebration, which traditionally preceded the observance of the Lenten fast. It is observed by various Christian denominations.

    March 2: Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent on the Christian calendar. Its name is derived from the symbolic use of ashes to signify penitence. It takes place immediately after the excesses of the two days of Carnival that take place in Northern Europe and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

    March 2 (sunset) to March 20 (sunset): Nineteen-Day Fast, a time in the Bahá’í Faith to reinvigorate the soul and bring one closer to God. The fast takes place immediately before the beginning of the Bahá'í New Year.

    March 3–5:Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year, a time of renewal through sacred and secular practices.

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

    March 9: Asian-American Women’s Equal Pay Day. The aim is to raise awareness about the pay gap between Asian-American women and White men. Asian-American women are paid 90 cents for every dollar paid to white men.

    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 16-17: Purim, a Jewish celebration that marks the time when the Jewish community living in Persia was saved from genocide. On Purim, Jewish people offer charity and share food with friends.

    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.


    National Congress of Parents and Teachers. (n.d). “2021-2022 Multicultural Calendar Multicultural Calendar.” National Congress of Parents and Teachers, https://www.pta.org/docs/default-source/files/runyourpta/2020/diversity/multicultural-calendar.pdf.

    Office Holidays Ltd. “US Diversity Months.” Office Holidays Ltd., Office Holidays Ltd., 2022, www.officeholidays.com/diversity-months

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

    Provided by Emily Kawasaki

    Assistant Editor

    The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA

  • 13 Feb 2022 7:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Several of the articles in the January newsletter really resonated with people. Here are some of the thoughts and reflections they shared.


    • “Thank you, Kathy. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be "Mom" to Jemia. I feel those ‘powerful cords.’” -Russanne Bucci
    • “Russanne, we just met at the SIETAR USA 'roll into 2022' webinar in the breakout! What an uplifting story you've shared here, thank you. Jimca is an extraordinary human being, and I wish her (and you!) continued joy and success.” -Rebecca Parrilla
    • “Hello Rebecca, Thank you for your lovely post. I am happy to know that my story communicates that Jimca is extraordinary. She is wise, compassionate, fun-loving, determined and so much more.” -Russanne Bucci
    • “Inspiring Story Rebecca! Hoping someone brings the story to a wide audience with a documentary film.” -Joseph Lurie
    • “Hi Joe, I attended your session at the 2019 SIETAR conference in Atlanta. I appreciate your work and the warmth and humor you exude as a trainer. I would love for there to be a documentary that could include Jimca's story. She is compelling to watch in videos; please feel free to give my contact information to any documentary producer who may be interested.” -Russanne Bucci
    • “Stories revealing cultural disconnects between US Americans and job-seeking refugees from non-western cultures are featured in chapter 3, " Seeing US Americans Through the Eyes of Others" in Perception and Deception, https://www.perceptionanddeception.com/ “ -Joseph Lurie

    • “Hi Willette, we just met at the SIETAR USA 'roll into 2022' webinar in the breakout last week! Thanks for sharing your insights here. My favorite line was ‘in all my planning, what if I had asked my speaker the specific needs for the presentation instead of incorrectly assuming that I knew what they were.’ I can so relate - sometimes, as DEI practitioners, we may unconsciously think that 'we know'.... But asking never fails. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!” -Rebecca Parrilla

    Comments from Our Readers
    • “Thank you, readers, for your encouraging words on the power of poetry. There is no doubt in my mind that poetry could be an impactful tool in our intercultural and DEI trainings. Members, submit your intercultural poetry! Look for a diversity of poets and their poetry in future SIETAR USA newsletters.” -Kathy Ellis

    • A tremendous story and thank you, Russanne, for sharing. A love of a mother and love of a child are powerful cords.” -Kathy Ellis

  • 18 Jan 2022 1:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Russanne Bucci

    I had always planned on being a mom but having my own biological children didn’t work out.  After losing my younger brother and passing into middle age, I felt an urgency to fulfill certain of my life’s dreams. When I learned about children living on their own in refugee camps (Unaccompanied Refugee Minors/URMs), I had an internal sense that this was the right time and the right route to parenting for me.

    I contacted an agency that placed refugees in foster care, and though they were 90 miles away, we began the licensing and training process. After I was fully licensed, the agency alerted the U.S. Department of State, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that they had an available home for a refugee girl from anywhere in the world. Then the ORR contacted the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) which is tasked with identifying children living in the camps at highest risk, interviewing them, conducting an in-country orientation, and readying them for immigration to a host country.

    Not long after, while at a wedding in Detroit, I got a call that a 17-year-old Muslim Eritrean girl who had lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia for six years, was identified as a match for me. The person at the agency provided more biographical information about her and said that I had 24 hours to decide to move forward. Her name was Jimca and according to the interviewer from the UN Refugee Agency, she had attended school until the 5th grade, had good reading, writing and  speaking skills in English and wanted to be a doctor. There were no physical or mental health problems reported. I called back within 16 hours, said “yes,” and began painting the guest room.

    On September 6th, 2015, I waited at the airport baggage claim with a social worker from the agency, an interpreter who spoke Tigrinya (the official language of Eritrea), and my translated “Welcome” sign. A flight attendant escorted a tiny bright eyed girl with a million-dollar smile. “Hello, my name is Jimca. Nice to meet you” she said with enthusiasm. (I soon discovered that was the only English phrase she knew!)

    Knowing that came from a very communal culture, we attended and hosted many social gatherings and she became more alive and joyful in a group. She enjoyed birthday celebrations and I enjoyed listening to her practice the birthday song before a party. I’ll never forget the look of astonishment on her face after she asked whether she could eat cake when it wasn’t someone’s birthday. “Yes!” I said, “Certainly, yes.”

    Perhaps my fondest memories are from when we attended Family Night at the local mosque. In a complete role reversal, Jimca became the caretaker and the teacher and I the learner. She arranged my hijab, led me through the prayers and identified various items on the food table. She demonstrated her competence in this familiar setting after months of being coached and corrected in her new country. We were both able to relax.

    A few months after her arrival I learned that just before departing the camp, Jimca had been seriously assaulted. This was on top of her separation from family and home country.  At the time I hadn’t studied what long-term or repeated trauma does to the brain or how people with trauma get triggered; but I later discovered that these can lead people to struggle with mood swings, relationships and learning. And, I was told that for refugee youth there tend to be many “layers of trauma” from experiences in the child’s home, during flight, and in the camp, some sustained for long periods and resulting in intense and possible life long emotional challenges.

    I wanted to learn all I could about how to recognize and heal from trauma through resilience.  According to an expert (Nixon, C (2018) Training:Trauma and Resilience), “Resilience is using research-based strategies to move kids who have trauma from surviving to thriving.” I realized that supporting Jimca’s healing was the most important thing I could do for her. I strengthened my meditation and gratitude practice so that I could be more self-aware and present when I was with her. I attempted to avoid triggering her by having a calm voice and a “safe face.” I suspended the list of educational and life-enhancing experiences I had charted for her and instead focused on becoming a better listener, observing and mentioning positive things about her, showing compassion, and finding more ways to connect.

    Today at age 24, Jimca has a good home, and a job in a nursing facility where she is respected and appreciated. She is thriving. She says the thing that she appreciates most about her immigration to the United States is “meeting new people and having a job so she can take care of herself and take care of her family.”

    When we’re together, our favorite pastimes are watching movies and traveling. About a year ago we went on a road trip at a moment when both of us were dealing with personal disappointments. She wisely spent the 6-hour ride playing YouTube videos about healing and self-love.

    Jimca started out completely dependent on me and I was devoted to helping her.  Today our relationship is much more balanced. We help each other.

  • 18 Jan 2022 1:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Portions of the following are based on an article (Working with Immigrants and Refugees) by Zara Abrams in the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology October, 2021, pp 30-35.

    Do you want to work with refugees? Are you already working with them? According to Russanne Bucci who is the author of the January Opinion column in which she provides a personal account of bringing a refugee into her home and heart, “agency personnel, foster families and refugee youth would benefit from understanding basic models of how cultures vary and of the cultural adjustment process. Interculturalists can provide culture specific information to the foster family and help the family build relationships with members of their foster child’s ethnic and religious groups in the local community. DEI trainers could teach refugee youth about Black History and the racism they observe and experience in the United States. Interculturalists could supplement the agency’s resources by bringing a cultural lens to the dynamics and misunderstandings in the foster family and school setting. Perhaps we could have the greatest impact by working within the system to change policy and influence future legislation. There are more and more refugee children streaming across borders every year, and I believe our profession can help prevent more unnecessary suffering.”

    A Human Rights Watch article reported that “UNHCR projected that a half million Afghans may seek to leave by the end of 2021.” SIETAR USA has a number of members who have worked in some capacity with refugees over many years and others who have recently begun volunteering to work with refugees and immigrants. They agree that understanding the context of immigration is essential whether working with individuals or groups. For example, immigrants from the Northern Triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are frequently running for their lives. Some but not all are undocumented which can add to their challenges. The influx of refugees from Afghanistan to the United States are fleeing the Taliban takeover. Individuals in many of these groups survived perilous journeys to arrive in the United States. Different circumstances but similar fears and trauma. Refugees differ greatly in terms of legal status, level of familial support, education, job skills, and personal experiences of trauma and abuse. Most of these refugees have one strength in common: resilience. It is a good place to start. As you listen to their stories (perhaps through an interpreter), note their examples of resilience. It’s a strength they will continue to use. The strength you bring to the encounter is your listening skills.

    The United States is home to over 44 million immigrants from all over the world. They reach our shores with an amazing diversity of religious, linguistic, education and ethnic backgrounds—even when they are from the same country. Their reasons for coming are likely although not always from trauma. For example, some are seeking work, others reuniting with family. The Pew Research Center reported in 2018 that over half of our immigrants came from Latin America and a quarter were from Asia. Many came from the Middle East as well. Encounters with refugees and immigrants confirm both the challenges and rewards of working with this exciting group of people.

    Getting here is the first hurdle and the second is navigating our immigration system, which is never easy. Helping immigrants at this stage can smooth out their entry into our culture. Some immigrants of color also face bias and discrimination that sometimes begins immediately but more often as they enter the job market and search for housing. “Racism is finally being recognized as a public health issue—but it’s also important to connect that to the immigrant experience. A lot of the challenges that immigrants experience are actually due to racism” (Laura Minero in Abrams p. 32).

    Despite the challenges, research shows that immigrants often have better mental health than non-immigrants (the healthy immigrant paradox). However, once settled in, depression and anxiety can increase, requiring extra support to sustain well-being. This is another point where interculturalists can make a difference. It resembles the U-curve we are familiar with, wellbeing starting on a high and fairly quickly descending as culture clashes occur and life becomes difficult, but usually followed by recovery with the help and support of the community and people trained to recognize when acculturation hits a rough patch.

    What can you do to prepare? Some standard tips are:

    • Learn about the culture the immigrant came from. Understand as much as you can about their geopolitical, cultural, and legal realities.
    • Take the complexities of immigration into account as you develop a relationship with the refugees. When needed, help them find effective, trauma-informed care from medical or psychological experts. Help them overcome the barriers to accessing legal and therapeutic care that many immigrants face.
    • Deal with the language barrier using someone from their home country or an interpreter provided by an agency. Some immigrants are bilingual, but as an interculturalist you know that their meaning often differs from your own.
    • Help them protect their cultural heritage. They shouldn’t have to leave their culture behind as acculturation progresses.

    This list is the tip of the iceberg, but these are items that you need to keep in mind at the beginning of the immigrant and refugee experience in America. Not all refugee work is necessarily with the refugees. We can help by volunteering with the refugee agencies and within the government to influence legislation that will abrogate some of the laws that currently form barriers to smooth assimilation into American culture.

    It can be very rewarding work. It is always challenging.

    Sandra Fowler, Editor

    The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA

  • 18 Jan 2022 1:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Have a look at SIETAR UK's free Intercultural Awareness Handbook. It outlines the key concepts and activities used in an intercultural awareness training session delivered on the 19th of May 2018 to volunteers who support refugees and asylum seekers in the Midlands, UK. (This Handbook was funded by the Faculty of Social Sciences Research Development Fund 2018.)

  • 18 Jan 2022 1:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Kathy Ellis

    If you haven’t seen Ms. Gorman’s video on “New Day’s Lyric”, please treat yourself to the power of poetry and to the pleasing aesthetics of performing a poem. Gorman said she wrote the poem to "celebrate the new year and honor the hurt and the humanity of the last one." Here’s to healing from the past and unfolding opportunities of growth and influence.

    May this be the day

    We come together.

    Mourning, we come to mend,

    Withered, we come to weather,

    Torn, we come to tend,

    Battered, we come to better.

    Tethered by this year of yearning,

    We are learning

    That though we weren't ready for this,

    We have been readied by it.

    We steadily vow that no matter

    How we are weighed down,

    We must always pave a way forward.

    This hope is our door, our portal.

    Even if we never get back to normal,

    Someday we can venture beyond it,

    To leave the known and take the first steps.

    So let us not return to what was normal,

    But reach toward what is next.

    What was cursed, we will cure.

    What was plagued, we will prove pure.

    Where we tend to argue, we will try to agree,

    Those fortunes we forswore, now the future we foresee,

    Where we weren't aware, we're now awake;

    Those moments we missed

    Are now these moments we make,

    The moments we meet,

    And our hearts, once altogether beaten,

    Now all together beat.

    Come, look up with kindness yet,

    For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.

    We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,

    But to take on tomorrow.

    We heed this old spirit,

    In a new day's lyric,

    In our hearts, we hear it:

    For auld lang syne, my dear,

    For auld lang syne.

    Be bold, sang Time this year,

    Be bold, sang Time,

    For when you honor yesterday,

    Tomorrow ye will find.

    Know what we've fought

    Need not be forgot nor for none.

    It defines us, binds us as one,

    Come over, join this day just begun.

    For wherever we come together,

    We will forever overcome.

  • 18 Jan 2022 1:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Willette Neal

    Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a predominant topic in today's private and public sectors. Organizations seem to be inundated with opportunities and suggestions about diversity training, the benefits of training, and the need for the training. Often the outcomes of DEI training are linked to the financial benefits for the company, whether directly or indirectly. The bottom line or the monetary gain may increase, but this is not directly linked to the DEI program. Especially for international companies, DEI's indirect link is buffered by the ability of culturally diverse teams to engage and interact on a more cohesive level to increase the team's performance–thereby increasing the bottom line or financial gain of the company. Cultural intelligence, or the ability to adjust in culturally diverse settings, is proving to be academically sound for improving the performance of culturally diverse teams (Ang,Koh, Ng, Rockstuhl, Tan, and Van Dyne, 2012).  

    Cultural intelligence is built around four factors: Cognitive, metacognitive, behavioral, and motivational dimensions of cultural intelligence. These four factors are further divided into sub-dimensions. I will focus on one sub-dimension in particular to discuss an aspect of DEI. Planning. Planning is a sub-dimension of metacognitive cultural intelligence and is used to explore how individual plans for culturally diverse interactions.

    Interestingly enough, the amount of planning that goes into culturally diverse interactions is often inconsistent. How do companies prepare for culturally diverse encounters? As trainers and consultants, what should we consider when preparing personnel for culturally diverse interactions?

    I believe that sharing our experiences provides an excellent learning opportunity. Additionally, I—along with all SIETAR USA members—pride myself on being a lifelong learner. Cultural intelligence is my research area and the topic of my dissertation. Still, I recently had an experience that brought to light how researching, reading, and discussing a topic is very different in the implementation phase.  

    In October of 2021, I led a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion panel in Las Vegas for several Employee Resource Group (ERG) Presidents. My meeting was very diverse with Presidents from several organizations. The keynote speaker was legally blind, and this is a segue into the metacognitive cultural intelligence planning sub-dimension. I was diligent in the details of the planning process. However, I wasn't as intentional in metacognitive planning. For instance, I corresponded with my keynote speaker through an assistant to avoid emails. When there was a need for more communication, I used Zoom or Microsoft teams. I coordinated the logistics for the arrival time and the placement of the teleprompter. I changed the seating on the stage from tall chairs to smaller chairs to accommodate the guests' different heights. But I still failed to use my understanding of the cultural intelligence research in a more personal manner. On the day of the event, I had not coordinated an individual to assist the speaker in navigating the stairs located behind the stage (there was limited lighting in this area, and the handrail was needed by all the participants). Next, I failed to place the keynote speakers' chairs closest to the podium to eliminate the need to navigate the stage. Finally, the bright lights facing the platform were not considered. What is the lesson that I learned and want to share? We are bombarded with information on DEI, but our real-world ability and need to implement an inclusive environment requires more from me—from us.

    As a manager in the federal government, I took this opportunity to reflect on what day-to-day knowledge (cognitive cultural intelligence) is needed to provide an inclusive environment? Definitely, we will need to hire and include diversity in several parts of the organization, but what does this mean in real-life, everyday activities? Recently, I attended a philosophy presentation at a local university. I noted the statement that some people have a way of getting "real think in the thin." This means that oftentimes people get extremely involved in things without having a clear destination in mind. It is exactly how DEI can resonate throughout an organization. We can get really involved in needing a DEI program and fail to come full circle in realizing what this looks like in the daily operations in an organization. Inclusive environment — I want it, we want it, but how do we actually get it? What does inclusive implementation resemble as a manager or leader, and how do we become inclusive without being exclusive? Communication and feedback are key. We will have to ensure that the individual we want to include is part of the conversation on inclusivity. For instance, in all my planning, what if I had asked my speaker the specific needs for the presentation instead of incorrectly assuming that I knew what they were.

    As we take a "Deeper Dive into Diversity" at SIETAR USA, we will ask these questions and encourage informal conversations and seek meaningful feedback. We will seek to learn from each other to set a standard in contributing sound advice to the diversity dialogue.  


    Ang, Soon, Koh, Christine, Ng, Kok Yee, Roskstuhl, Thomas, Tan, Mei Ling, Van Dyne, Lynn (2012), Sub-Dimensions of the Four Factor Model of Cultural Intelligence: Expanding the Conceptualization and Measurement of Cultural Intelligence; Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 295-313.  

  • 18 Jan 2022 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy New Year to you all! We have an abundance of professional development opportunities planned for you this year!  The Webinar Committee has already planned the first 6 months of webinars for the year covering a variety of interesting topics. Remember to let us know if you have a speaker you would like to recommend.  Webinars are held on the second Wednesday of the month.  

    My goal as Professional Development Director this year is to focus on building a Mentoring Program.  If you are interested in joining the Mentoring Committee, please let me know.  January is National Mentoring Month in the United States and Emily Kawasaki has written an informative article on the importance of mentoring programs.  This organization has a wealth of knowledge among its members and being a mentor is the perfect opportunity to share your experience with those who are new to the field—or not so new.  Additionally, if you would like to be a mentee, please let me know.  You can email me at cherylwoehr@gmail.com if you have questions about the program or would like more information about the SIETAR-USA Mentor Program.   You can either fill out the Mentee Application or Mentor Application or just email me with your interest.  

    This year we have also organized Saturday Seminars which will soon be announced.  So, stay tuned—the first one is coming next month!  And if you are interested in joining any of the Professional Development Committees, please let me know!

    I wish you health and happiness for 2022!

    Cheryl Woehr, M.A.,

    SIETAR USA, Professional Development Director

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