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.