SIETAR USA TAKES A STAND ON RACISM - June 2020
Recognizing that this could be a very long list, we would like to bring into the room, the name of George Floyd. In the strongest possible terms, SIETAR USA:
Racial injustice is embedded into U.S. culture and there is no single solution that will take care of everything that needs to be changed and improved. We need to begin by eliminating racism in our own SIETAR USA house. We need to listen to each other—in a learning mode—and be willing to explore ways we can make effective changes. The culture of whiteness is one that reinforces and invests in politeness, often discouraging conversations about racism, politics, and religion, allowing an “agree to disagree” mentality to persist. We are seeing very bluntly the outcomes of white communities refusing to work to eradicate racism among us so that we can avoid the brutal outcomes of ignorance, avoidance, and a pervasive inaction when it comes to racism. Among other things that approach favors white comfort over the suffering of Black and Brown people.
SIETAR USA started as a predominantly White organization and because of a commitment to diversity and diligent effort, that has changed over the years, but the issue is not in numbers or percentages. White privilege can be subtle and difficult to recognize, to own, and especially hard to ensure that not just Whites, but everyone has the same privilege. We need to ensure that we have a culture in which we can have ongoing difficult dialogs, where everyone’s voice is heard, and where we maintain a standard that racism in any form, including micro-aggressive racism, is not accepted.
Earlier this year, the SIETAR USA board began a process of an in-depth examination of what SIETAR USA stands for and how we confront racism in our organization. The process requires us as an association of professionals in the field of global inclusion and intercultural relations to have difficult conversations, but most importantly to take action to rectify wrongs. As an association we haven’t always gotten it right, but we invite all of you to stay at the table to continue learning and listening so that we can transform our organization to be a pillar of the field that we know it can be. We start by offering this statement which will only be trusted if it is followed by strong action of all our members.
The SIETAR USA Leadership is committed to being anti-racist and to taking a stand against injustice where we find it, inside or outside of SIETAR USA. But action requires all of us, so that we can fully include and support our colleagues of color and every individual who comprise the SIETAR community. We are committed to working together to make much needed progress in our association and in our nation.
NEWS OF NOTE - March 2020
On behalf of the SIETAR USA Board of Directors, we want to express our concern for all our members and members of the broader intercultural and DEI community around the world.
Those of us who have worked in relocation know that one of the most difficult times in a move is when you have packed your belongings and said goodbye to your comfortable, familiar environment but haven’t yet reached your new life in a different culture with its unforeseen challenges and demands. Preparation helps ease the discomfort of the limbo stage but you still have to go through it. Limbo is where all of us are living right now. COVID-19 has shaken us out of our familiar routines, separated us from friends and loved ones, and only hints at what is yet to come. But remember that we have the skills to help people with transitions and particularly the tough ones.
The world is full of questions that can’t be answered. When will the pandemic recede? Where can we feel safe? What will the “new normal” be like? Does this remind you of the work we do with clients, friends, family? How do you reassure people that it will be OK? Realistic expectations can make a difference. Recognizing and relying on our strengths and resilience helps a lot. One thing we cannot do in this crisis is to reach out physically to our support groups. Virtual contact is possible and communication is one of our great strengths. But a virtual hug isn’t an exact equivalent to feeling those arms around you. As Angela Merkel said in her wonderful speech to the German people—and to the world—“at the moment, only distance is the expression of care.”
As we think about this shift in day-to-day life, it’s important also to remember the impact this pandemic has on those in our community who already felt marginalized and excluded. Now is a time for all of us to think about whom might most want our outreach and support to stay connected. We encourage you to think about who around you might need support in finding the resources they need to stay involved and feel supported. While the circumstances around us are forcing us into our smallest social networks, keeping connected with diverse perspectives, individuals, and communities is just as important as ever.
As March 2020 draws to a close, deep in its roots the earth knows Spring is officially here. The cherry blossoms, the daffodils, the budding trees bring with them a sense of renewal and promise. Gratitude for the renewal and beauty of the earth and gratitude for having another day warms the heart. We are grateful to the Intercultural and DEI Community. We are all in this together.
Sent to you with caring,
Your SIETAR USA Board of Directors and Advisory Council
A Loss to SIETAR USA
December 23, 2019
The intercultural world has lost one of its giants. Margaret (Peggy) Pusch passed away last night. Peggy contributed so much to the establishment of the intercultural field as co-founder and editor of the Intercultural Press and as President of NAFSA. She supported SIETAR International in many ways and was instrumental in creating SIETAR USA; she was our first President and subsequently the Executive Director. If SIETAR USA has a Mother/Grandmother, it was Peggy.
Her strength and wisdom led SIETAR USA to establish the Margaret D. Pusch Founders Award to honor her as her professionalism exemplified the gold standard for a lifetime of service to SIETAR and the community, individuals, and the intercultural field. We will miss her wise counsel, as well as her encyclopedic knowledge of the intercultural field, and those who are and have been in it.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Board Advisors, SIETAR USA would like to offer our most sincere condolences to Peggy’s family—her husband Lew and their daughter and two sons, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.