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  • 14 Jul 2019 10:52 AM | Anonymous

    Interview with Michele Gelfand about her book  Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World

    1. Why did you write this book?

    I wanted to write this book to introduce the concepts of tightness-looseness to a broad audience. My research team, involving people from psychology, anthropology, computer science, and neuroscience has been studying many cultures, from Sparta to Singapore, Athens to Alabama and Tech to the Military to understand how the strength of social norms evolves and its consequences for human groups. I wanted to make this research, which has been published primarily in scientific journals like Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, among others, accessible to a general audience. I dedicated the book to Dad who is an engineer, who always encouraged me to explore the world, and Harry Triandis, my mentor, who gave me the scientific tools to understand it!

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

    I hope that the tight versus loose distinction will ultimately change the way readers look at the world and themselves. It illuminates differences we see across nations, states, social classes, and households all through the same lens; it helps unlock clashes that we experience with our spouses, kids, friends, and co-workers on a daily basis; and it enables us to understand puzzling dynamics that we see happening around the world, from the rise of populism to the assent of ISIS. Most importantly, by understanding this hidden dimension of our lives, we can use it to better our relationships, organizations, and the world at large. Culture isn’t destiny. By tightening norms when we they are too loose, and loosening norms when they are too tight, we can build a better planet. 

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

    Harry Triandis’ (1972) book The Analysis of Subjective Culture, it provides a very comprehensive theory about culture, and I was inspired by his ecological approach which informed my work on tightness-looseness.

    Herodotus, The Histories, written around 440 BC. It’s really one of the first texts on cross-cultural psychology!

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

    When I was a junior in college, I ventured off to London for a semester, my first experience abroad. A sheltered kid from Long Island, I was the classic New Yorker who didn’t know life existed outside the Big Apple, as depicted in the famous New Yorker cartoon. Overwhelmed by the strange accents, the cars driving on the left side of the road, and the British jokes I didn’t quite understand, I experienced a quintessential case of culture shock. I remember phoning my father and telling him how strange it was that other members of my study-abroad group would just pick up and go to places like Paris, Amsterdam, and Scotland for the weekend. In his thick Brooklyn accent, my father responded, “Well, imagine that it’s like going from New Yawk to Pennsylvania!” That metaphor gave me so much comfort, that the very next day, I booked a low-budget tour to Egypt. It was just like going from New York to California, I reasoned (much to my father’s dismay!). That fortuitous phone call with my dad sparked a lifelong passion for exploring cultures around the globe, and caused me to pivot from a career in medicine to one in cross-cultural psychology.

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

    In a recent paper that we published in Psychological Science, entitled “A Tight Spot: How Personality Moderates the Impact of Social Norms on Sojourner Adjustment” we show that the match between one’s personality and the features of the culture one goes to is a key predictor of adjustment. This opens up a lot of interesting ways to think about how we can increase our adaptation to different cultures and be more strategic about recruitment and selection for international assignments!

    6. This newsletter goes to nearly 1,000 readers, folks who are either in or interested in the field of intercultural communications. Is there anything else you’d like to say to these folks?

    If the audience is interested, I did a Ted talk on my research and they can listen here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqkzp9C2VyI

    I also have a place on my website for people to send in tight-loose stories to me and would love to hear from your readers! https://www.michelegelfand.com/


  • 14 Jul 2019 10:45 AM | Anonymous

    A workshop presented by Elmer Dixon, President of Executive Diversity Services at the SIETAR Europa Congress in Leuven, Belgium.

    [Interculturalists around the globe gathered in Belgium in early June for the SIETAR Europa Congress 2019 in Leuven Belgium. I was once again a presenter at the conference. This year I facilitated a workshop that looked at Engaging in Dialogue in a Global Polarized Environment.]

    Interculturalists have dedicated their life’s work to building bridges across cultural differences. As such they strive to soften barriers to living life with cultural others. Companies and organizations have recognized that cultural differences can have a positive impact on the organization’s success. Intercultural trainers are providing teams with a broader understanding of the value of cultural differences. And they teach tools for adapting styles and behaviors to enable culturally different colleagues to work effectively together.

    HOW GLOBAL HUMAN MOVEMENT CHANGES THE GAME

    Human movement and relocation in the 21st century is growing. This may be by choice or in response to human-made or natural disasters. This has ignited a trend where many people and in fact nations have taken defensive lines.  They’ve adopted divisive discourse as a means to protect their national and cultural identities. We’ve seen in multiple elections across Europe a rise in far-right white nationalists. These entities have forged closer links with like-minded groups in the U.S, where they’ve benefited from a perceived sympathy from elected governments for strands of their extremist politics.

    Yet this is a trend that has been building for years. In July of 2011, a gunman opened fire at an island youth camp in Norway, targeting Muslim youth. The gunman was described as a right-wing Christian extremist with a hatred of Muslims and ties to right wing Neo-Nazis. More recently in the US there was the slaughter of Jews at a synagogue in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. That was followed by another shooting at a synagogue near San Diego.

    IDENTITARIANISM GROWING AS AN ALT-RIGHT IDEOLOGY

    The toxic combination of the most prolonged period of economic stagnation and the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II has seen the far-right surging across the European continent, from Athens to Amsterdam and in between. In the U.S. cries of “invasion” prompted by the aggressive stands on immigration affect the sensibility of an infected populace.

    Daniel Friberg, who attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, is a clean-cut, smooth-talking far-right activist. He is a prominent figure in the Swedish radical right and self-identifies as identitarian. This French-originated ideology, increasingly influential among European far-right youth, argues for the preservation of a white or European identity.  And, in theory, it attempts to decouple from the overt racism, violence, and fascist symbolism that have been a barrier to the far-right’s political acceptability in post-war Europe. Friberg, however, sees “identitarian” and “alt-right” as largely synonymous terms.

    INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP AT SIETAR EUROPA GIVES TOOLS TO INTERCULTURAL TRAINERS

    I had proposed the workshop in response to the growing, critical need for dialogue across the political divide. It is needed now more than ever in such a polarized global environment.

    In this interactive workshop, participants learned a dialogue tool for having critical conversations. They then explored the mindset and philosophy of this new breed of smooth-talking far-right activist, or identitarian. They also looked at the European far-right who argues for the preservation of a white or European identity.

    During this interactive discussion participants broke into small groups to share stories and explore opportunities and strategies for bridging the gaps between polarized groups. They also were asked to identify training approaches and strategies specifying the most critical issues of identity xenophobia, and how to address them in the classroom.

    In the report out, each team shared their group’s ideas along with their own experiences facing these critical issues in the classroom. And they looked at how interculturalists can more effectively create dialogue.

    The overall goal of the session was to encourage intercultural trainers to engage in critical conversations such as right-wing isolationist philosophy and lessen the impact of polarizing opinions and beliefs.


  • 14 Jul 2019 10:16 AM | Anonymous

    SIETAR USA conferences are designed to address the critical issues of the day from an intercultural perspective as well as important developments in the intercultural discipline and diversity and inclusion field. We’re interested in your thoughts and opinions and encourage you to add your voice to the conversations and expertise at the SIETAR USA 2019 conference.

    A review of today’s headline issues--globalization, race relations, refugees, immigration, equity, the political divide—underscores the need for improved cross-cultural communication. At the same time, the growing use of social media gives a sense of communicating without taking into consideration critical variables.

    The national SIETAR USA conference is a forum—as envisioned by our founders—for dialog, debate, difference and gathering to find commonality in the work we do, to learn from each other, and have the in-person interaction that sparks new ideas and ways of accomplishing our professional and personal goals.

    If you are planning to attend the conference, think also about participating in a Master Workshop. These half-day workshops are opportunities to sharpen skills and learn from experienced interculturalists. The Master Workshops are themed—you can choose two themed workshops to get a full day related to a certain topical area or select two non-themed workshops or take just one workshop, as you wish. Why might you want to take two, you ask? There is a discount for taking two Master Workshop and remember that these workshops are the intercultural and diversity & inclusion equivalent of “continuing education.” They are a way to refresh and receive.

    TRAINING. If you want a day of training for trainers, facilitators, and educators start in the morning on Wednesday with Daniel Yalowitz’s comprehensive look at how you make learning stick (The Game’s the Thing and It’s Meaning Is in the Debriefing). If you ever have questions about debriefing such as: How do I debrief a game with a multi-cultural group? Can you play and debrief a game designed for adults with children? Go to Daniel for the answers. Spend 4 hours with him for the gold nuggets of debriefing.

    And in the afternoon, you can join Basma Ibrahim DeVries and Jon DeVries for their workshop on Interactions and Intersections: Experiential Activities for Intercultural and Inclusion Work. If you are looking for a hands-on, interactive workshop with several unique intercultural learning activities (related to diverse communication styles, cultural values and dimensions, barriers to inclusion), this is the workshop for you. It includes discussion on adaptations for specific training goals. Workshop participants can expect to be creatively, experientially, and reflectively engaged.

    When your passion is DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION start your morning with Farzana Nyani in her Master Workshop Deepening Impact: Encouraging an Equity Lens in Diversity, Inclusion, and Intercultural Work. As trainers and consultants we all want our work to have an impact. Her equity lens is one that we all are—or should be—concerned about having as we face the challenges of training or consulting. In your 4 hours with Farzana you will gain an understanding of how diversity, equity and inclusion and intercultural concepts can come together to make deeper impact on the people you work with.

    Then in the afternoon, join Malii Watts Carolyn for The “Reel-ality” of Race: Engaging with the 2020 U.S. Presidential Debates. Review video snippets of select learning moments from the 2020 U.S. Presidential campaign debates and other election-related news for a candid conversation on the deliberate and complex role of diversity and inclusion in this contemporary, political drama. Use a critical lens on the intercultural and D&I fields with which participants are associated in order to begin constructing relevant and resonant ways to practice your work without perpetuating the divisions we seek to interrupt.

    INTERCULTURAL CAREER AND BUSINESS SKILLS. In the morning join Randall Stieghorst to focus on developing the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully manage the business side of (a) being a self-employed interculturalist or D&I practitioner and/or (b) running a small business that provides professional services. If you have your own business or are thinking of starting one, be sure to check out Business Skills for Independent Interculturalists and Small Business Owners because with his 18 years of experience, Randall is the one you want to hear from.

    In the afternoon, for career planning, Mary Meares’ Master Workshop Developing Your Intercultural Career is the place to go. With her advice you can examine what skills you have, what skills you want to develop, and how that fits within the range of intercultural work? What about your knowledge, needs, passions, complications, and constraints? This workshop is for both beginning and more experienced interculturalists to think about how to move forward in public, nonprofit, and private sector contexts, as an employee or as an independent consultant.

    WORDS FROM A SAGE. As a special treat this year, you can choose to spend a whole day with George Renwick. In his morning workshop, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King: Outstanding Examples of Intercultural Competence he asks: What enabled each of them to be uniquely effective? What were the sources of their courage, commitment, creativity, and profound impact? You will watch Mother Teresa and Dr. King, listen to them, learn from them, and learn from each other during a discussion to clarify the personal qualities and professional capabilities that were essential to their extraordinary effectiveness. Then you will consider the most important implications for your own professional development and intercultural practice.

    In the afternoon George invites you to Creative Coaching: An Advanced Workshop where you will consider creative, uniquely effective ways to conduct coaching in challenging situations. During recent years, George has been experimenting with a variety of new ways of coaching, ways that are situation specific and culturally competent. The results of these experiments have sometimes been surprising (and usually very positive). During this workshop, George will share actual situations where he has used new coaching methods that seemed exactly appropriate and uniquely effective. Countries in which these challenging situations have occurred include the U.S., China, Korea, India and Saudi Arabia.


  • 14 Jul 2019 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    The 18th National SIETAR Conference Chair
    welcomes you to the 2019 National Conference in
    Atlanta, Georgia

    October 30 – November 2, 2019.

    Meet The Conference Chairperson
    Karen J Lokkesmoe


    My first intercultural experience was at the age of three when my brother and I moved to Western Manitoba, Canada and lived for 1.5 years with my aunt and uncle while my mother went back to school to finish her degree. While still with family and many shared traditions, there was much that was different and later in life I found myself interpreting expressions and actions between my Manitoba cousins and my older Minnesota siblings, who had not shared that experience. These were small things but left a lasting impression on me and I always understood that words and actions are not always interpreted the same way.

    Throughout my life I have been fortunate to have been able to live, work, and study in four countries and to travel to 66 countries. I have always enjoyed studying languages and engaging with people who are different from me. Working in international education has been a excellent fit for me. I am blessed to be able to count as friends and colleagues over 250 international students and scholars from all corners of the world. These current and future world leaders inspire me every day.

    Working as a professor and consultant in global leadership and intercultural competence development has been a perfect combination of my two great passions. For me one cannot be an effective global leader without also being interculturally competent. The two are intrinsically linked. Developing the Integrated Global Leadership Model through my Ph.D. research puts intercultural competence at the very center of a set of global leadership skills.

    SIETAR, both nationally and locally in Minnesota, has been a wonderful organization where professionals, scholars, learners, and the curious can come together to share knowledge and engage in inquiries about how to do our work better. I was one of the founding members of SIETAR Minnesota and have long been on the planning board helping to keep our local organization relevant, vital, and sustainable. Having attended and presented at several past SIETAR USA conferences, I was honored to be asked to chair the 2019 National Conference. I believe that the work we do as interculturalists is perhaps more critical today than ever. The role we play today goes beyond education, training, and research. We must reach out to our coworkers, bosses, family members, community, state, and national leaders to facilitate the ongoing bridging and understanding of those who have values and beliefs different from our own. The SIETAR USA Conference is a great place to revitalize, renew, and support that work.

    I invite you to join us in Atlanta, October 30-November 2, 2019 when we will engage with the theme: From Adversity to Diversity: The Role of the Interculturalist.

    In addition to sessions of general intercultural interest that explore the conference theme, the conference program includes three tracks:

    • The Role of the Interculturalist: Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
    • The Role of the Interculturalist Working with Specific Cultures
    • The Role of the Interculturalist: Building Skills and Taking them to the Market Place

    The annual conference is a time of renewal of our commitment to the intercultural field. We return to our daily lives refreshed and energized to make a difference for the people who are our students, clients, colleagues. We work to bridge transformations caused by change. The system in which we live—boundaries, borders, nations—has accelerated change enormously, sometimes beyond human tolerance or comprehension. We are all involved somehow in this change: change of society, of organizations, of communities, of one person who wants to learn. And each change often puts into action unpredictable consequences, of which we may know little. Some changes amaze and delight; others, not so much.

    Please join me in Atlanta for a conference designed to support you with stimulating thinking, inspiring insights, expanding skills and renewing commitments—we will work together to explore important questions and seek avenues of human connection.

    Who Should Attend

    The SIETAR USA conference brings together professionals from many countries, ethnicities, occupations and industries for collaborative learning and stimulating exchange of ideas. The result is an increase in our own intercultural competency, along with support for our clients, trainees, and students as we all move forward in intercultural skills, awareness and knowledge.

    The conference is not only an event that allows people to learn about cutting-edge topics, but also a meeting place of people who care about how culture plays a role in daily life and the importance of finding avenues to effective relations across cultures.

    Whether you are a long-time SIETAR USA member, or this is your first experience with the organization, please plan to join us in Atlanta, GA this October!

    Conference attendees come from multiple fields, including:

    • Global Business and Multinational Corporations
    • Education
    • Health Services
    • Training and Coaching
    • Research
    • Government
    • Military
    • Refugee and Immigrant Support Services
    • Human Rights
    • Domestic Diversity
    • Global Diversity
    • Cultural Transitions
    • Peace and Conflict Resolution
    • Tourism
    • Communication and Dialogue Professions
    • Community Development


  • 14 Jul 2019 9:56 AM | Anonymous

    SIETAR USA
    Conference Scholarships

    Application deadline: August 15, 2019

    Apply now! Apply on-line

    Who

    First-time attendees who are registered students or employees and volunteers at a community-based non-profit, You must be willing to volunteer 4 - 7 hours at the conference, depending on award amount.

    What

    Scholarships are sponsored by SIETAR USA as well as 3 independently financed Legacy Scholarships honoring former SIETAR members: Robin Bragge, Kyoung-Ah Nam, and R Michael Paige. Full details are available on the SUSA website as well at scholarships@sietarusa.org.

    Application links:

    • SIETAR USA Scholarships
    • Robin Bragge Minnesota LGBT Interculturalist Scholarship award
    • Kyoung-Ah Nam Scholarship award
    • R Michael Paige Scholarship award


  • 13 Jul 2019 5:31 PM | Anonymous

    A jolt is an experiential learning activity that lasts for a brief period of time and illustrates one or more important learning points.

    My Swiss colleague Samuel van den Bergh recently facilitated this jolt in a diversity training workshop we conducted in Neftenbach, Switzerland. This jolt dramatically demonstrates the power of cooperation.

    Form groups. Ask the participants to organize themselves into groups of three. Appoint one person in each group to be the Referee. Give this person a blank sheet of paper.

    Brief the participants. Explain that there is a single rule for winning this simple game.

    Explain the role of the Referee. Ask the Referee to place the blank sheet of paper in the middle of the table.

    Ask the players to get ready. Ask the two players in each group to extend their right index fingers and hold the fingers approximately six inches above the blank sheet of paper.

    Give the rule. Make this statement: You win if make the other player’s index finger touch the blank sheet of paper first.

    Conduct the game. Say, "Let the game begin!" Ask the Referee to watch the two players and determine who won.

    Conclude the game. After about 2 minutes, announce the end of the activity. Identify the winners and congratulate them.

    Explain the cooperative strategy. Repeat the rule of the game: You win if you get the other player’s index finger to touch the blank sheet first. Point out that both players could have won if they cooperated to touch the blank sheet at the same time.

    Debrief

    Conduct a debriefing discussion with this question:

    • How many of you won the game? How do you feel about it?
    • How many of you lost the game? How do you feel about it?
    • How many of you have not completed the game? How do you feel about it?
    • How many of you used the strategy of both players touching the blank sheet of paper at the same time? How do you feel about it?
    • How many of assumed that if you win, the other player has to lose?
    • How does the game reflect events in your workplace?

    Learning Points

    1. Activities that involve winning automatically encourage competitive behavior.
    2. If we are willing to think cooperatively, it is possible for everyone to win.


  • 13 Jul 2019 5:25 PM | Anonymous

    Elmer Dixon, President
    Executive Diversity Services

    Whether you are a seasoned HR professional, advising a client or hiring your own first employee, these tips serve as good reminders of good practices to support diverse staffing... The secret is maintaining community relationships year round. Having a staff that represents a diversity of background and perspectives doesn’t happen by accident. It takes commitment, strategy and planning.

    Here are tips to support diverse staffing, to get you started or serve as a reminder in your work with clients or in your own business:

    • Use community resources including key individuals, organizations and campuses that target services and membership for women and ethnic populations.
    • Develop and maintain personal relationships and networks in target communities on an ongoing basis, not just when you want to fill job openings.
    • Identify individuals within your organization who might help recruit from specific target communities.
    • Examine your current workforce for recruiting potential, for example, individuals who can be developed through job training or position competencies.
    • Provide information to applicants about any organizational benefits that might be attractive to diverse populations, e.g., new employee orientation, professional and personal development opportunities, mentoring programs, employee support groups, buddy systems, etc.


  • 13 Jul 2019 5:04 PM | Anonymous

    Coming Events

    October 30-November 2, 2019

    SIETAR USA National Conference, From Adversity to Diversity: The Role of the Interculturalist, Atlanta, GA

    REGISTRATION OPEN SOON!

    July Holidays

    July 16: Asalha Puja, or Dharma Day, is a celebration of Buddha’s first teachings.

    July 18: Nelson Mandela International Day, launched on July 18, 2009, in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday via unanimous decision of the U.N. General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices: “It is in your hands now”. It is more than a celebration of Mandela’s life and legacy; it is a global movement to honor his life’s work and to change the world for the better.

    July 23: The birthday of Haile Selassie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia whom the Rastafarians consider to be their savior.

    July 24: Pioneer Day, observed by the Mormons to commemorate the arrival in 1847 of the first Latter Day Saints pioneer in Salt Lake Valley.

    July 26: Disability Independence Day, celebrating the anniversary of the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    July 30: International Day of Friendship, proclaimed in 2011 by the U.N. General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.

    August Holidays

    August 10-11 (sundown to sundown): Waqf al Arafa, the second day of pilgrimage within the Islamic faith.

    August 10-11 (sundown to sundown): Waqf al Arafa, the second day of pilgrimage within the Islamic faith.

    August 12-15: Eid al-Adha, an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Muslims around the world observe this event.

    August 13-15: Obon (Ulambana), a Buddhist festival and Japanese custom for honoring the spirits of ancestors.

    August 15: Hungry Ghost Festival, a Chinese holiday where street, market, and temple ceremonies take place to honor dead ancestors and appease other spirits.

    August 15: Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu holiday commemorating the loving kinship between a brother and sister. “Raksha” means “protection” in Hindi and symbolizes the longing a sister has to be protected by her brother. During the celebration, a sister ties a string around her brother’s (or brother-figure’s) wrist and asks him to protect her. The brother usually gives the sister a gift and agrees to protect her for life.

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


  • 09 Jul 2019 8:51 AM | Karen Fouts (Administrator)

    A Few Items You Might Want to Know About - July 2019

    SIETAR USA NEWSLETTER: The Interculturalist: A Periodical of SIETAR USA is being prepared and will be ready to deploy next week. Articles include Craig Storti’s Bookmarks reviewing Michelle Gelfand’s Rule Makers/Rule Breakers, an article by Elmer Dixon, a Thiagi Training Tip, information about the conference and more. Watch for the email (check your 'Promotions' and spam just in case it goes there by mistake!).

    SIETAR USA CONFERENCE: All the information is in and the conference registration application is being formulated this week. We will let you know just as soon as registration is live! Presenters will hear very soon from the program committee regarding their proposals.

    SIETAR USA is taking a summer break, and webinars will resume in September. Meanwhile, SIETAR EUROPA is holding a webinar this month: "From Clashes to Creativity: TEAM READINESS for (Culturally) Diverse Teams" will be presented by Ursula Brinkmann, PhD., on July 16, 2019. For more information and to register for this webinar, click here.

    SIETAR ITALIA has started a crowdfunding campaign to support a book they would like to develop and publish. Visit http://sostieni.link/21183 to learn more and participate!

  • 10 Jun 2019 9:55 PM | Anonymous

    SIETAR Europa held its biannual congress May 27th to June 2nd in the historic city of Leuven, Belgium. I attended this well-organized event and saw many similarities and some differences between the conferences of our two organizations. Their theme this year—somewhat similar to the SIETAR USA theme—addressed diversity and inclusion: Building Dialogs on Diversity—Towards a Future of Hope. Joyce Jenkins, President prior to the congress wrote in their program: “This theme is timely, given the problems and polarisations we see around the world today. It is also dear to the hearts of those involved in intercultural education, training and research, who approach diversity in a spirit of positivity. The congress continues our endeavor to promote and design dialogues which help us explore differences and derive lessons from them, building common ground towards a future of hope.” 

    Some similarities and differences between the two conference structures: SIETAR Europa had 5 tracks, SIETAR USA also uses a track system as a way to recruit and group similar sessions. Their tracks were Business and Organizational Challenges; Socio-political Concerns; Migration: Education and Intercultural Professions; and a 5th Academic Research track. They have 3 days of pre-congress workshops and post congress workshops as well whereas SIETAR USA has just one day of Master Workshops. The SIETAR EU schedule resembles the one SIETAR USA uses but we offer sessions of 60, 75 and 90 minutes. The structure of their program is all 90-minute presentations (except for the TED-style talks which were 30-minute sessions grouped into sets of 3 presentations plus discussion). They begin each day with two keynote addresses and go to the end of the day on Saturday (we usually end early so Saturday is a half day for us).

    One significant difference was that SIETAR Europa has had a Film Festival since their conference in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2007. They screen documentaries which have the added value in reaching people in a different more emotional way. According to their program: “Documentaries can be very useful as teaching and learning tools in education.  During this congress, SIETAR, again, offers opportunities on how to use films or film fragments for intercultural, virtual teaching, training and coaching.” Each film was followed by discussion of the content and each track was represented by two documentaries. I went to 3 of them and was most impressed with their selection. I was most moved by a film called “Nice People” that dealt with a small town in the backlands of Sweden that was attempting to accommodate 3,000 Somalis. A local journalist had the idea of letting sport unite the people so men who had never known temperatures below freezing or ice skating, were taught Bandy ice hockey. The film follows the intense, heartbreaking, comical struggle to get the team (the first national Bandy Ice Hockey Team of Somalia) ready for the championship tournament in Siberia. I have to admit to both laughing and crying.

    The venue for the congress was Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven campus located at the edge of town and reached by bus. Participants stayed in hotels and B&Bs all over town. Some of us bought our lunches on the way to the bus since you could register and pay for a box lunch but we didn’t all choose that option. By having our USA conferences in hotels, lunch is provided as part of registration. Probably the biggest overall difference between the two conferences is the venue. 

    Whova played an important role in creating a sense of community. We will have Whova available at the SIETAR USA conference too. We will let you know when you can sign up for Whova. It’s fun and informative.

    A culminating event was the gala banquet on Friday evening. The new President of SIETAR Europa was “crowned” and she is an American Expat currently living in Ireland: Tamara Cherie Thorpe. Tamara was the head of the SIETAR USA scholarship committee for many years and has served in other governance capacities. She is also our June webinar speaker.I know it is difficult to get a picture of an event that you didn’t attend. I hope it is interesting for you to see that we share some ways of organizing our conferences as well as some differences. The bottom line is that the people make the conference. I was so proud of the large number of American participants and especially the American presenters. They were the best! But I must say that the Europeans (and international presenters) did a fine job as well. 

    According to current plans, SIETAR USA will get on an every other year schedule such that the year that SIETAR Europa has its congress, we will not have a conference in the United States. To do that, SIETAR USA will hold a conference next year (2020 which is our 20th anniversary) and then not again until 2022. That makes it quite possible to attend the conference in Europe one year and in the United States the following year. I hope that brings many more Europeans to our conferences and vice versa—many more Americans attending their congresses. European and American collaboration has long been a hallmark of SIETAR. I look forward to a close relationship between SIETAR Europa and SIETAR USA in the coming years.

    Sandra M. Fowler
    President, SIETAR USA


Contact Us
P.O. Box 548
Wheaton, IL 60187-4729
847.893.9655

info@sietarusa.org

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