SIETAR-USA finds new home, welcomes new members
Happy New Year Fellow SIETARians!
I am excited to announce that as we transition into a New Year, we also transition into a new home for our beloved organization!!! After great deliberation, the Board of Directors has decided upon the Intercultural Communication Institute for our new headquarters. We see this relationship as being mutually beneficial. Being housed with our long-time professional colleagues at ICI will usher in a new collaborative relationship between our two organizations that will strengthen our profession and ensure that we are staying on the cutting edge of intercultural knowledge and exchange. We are in the process of finalizing the Memorandum of Understanding between our two organizations and hope to make the transition to our new address by March 1st
Since our last newsletter we have welcomed a few new board members that I’d like to introduce to you: Patricia Malidor Coleman is returning to the Board in the newly created portfolio position of Sponsors, Exhibitors and Advertisers. Valli Murphy has been appointed to the Local Groups portfolio which was left vacant after Christopher Deal moved into the position of President-Elect. After longtime newsletter editor, Monica Francois Marcel’s resignation, Bobbie Stewart was appointed to the Newsletter portfolio.
I am confident that as we go into the new year with a full board, a new home, and fresh ideas, this will be a year of synergy and innovation! I wish you all a prosperous new year and may your every wish come true!
Thank You, Thank You!
The SIETAR-USA Board of Directors would like to formally and publicly thank:
These ladies dedicated a great deal of passion, commitment, talent and expertise to SIETAR-USA and we are a stronger organization because of their involvement. We are grateful for all the years that they have given to SUSA and we wish them both well in their future endeavors!
Monica Francois Marcel, Newsletter Portfolio from 2003 - 2011
Esther Louie, Advisory Council and Global Council Liaison from 2008-2011
Annual Conference to be held in Minneapolis
"Navigating Complexity in an Intercultural World"
As intercultural professionals, the realities faced by the communities, clients, students and organizations that we serve are increasingly complex. As we look forward to October 2012, with the U.S. Presidential election just weeks away, we know that we'll be moving into uncharted waters once again.
We are delighted to return to Minneapolis, Minnesota for our 11th annual conference, October 17-20, 2012 at the Marriott City Center and to explore together the ways that we, as intercultural professionals, can best help our communities, clients, students and organizations successfully navigate this increasing complexity.
Our conference co-chairs, Alisa Poehler and Candice Hughes are busy mapping out a plan and recruiting committee chairs and volunteers for our 2012 conference. Stay tuned for updates from them in the coming months as the plans come together and the Call for Proposals becomes available.
Meanwhile, to make sure that you’re receiving the latest information about the conference plans, please sign up for e-mail updates at the SIETAR-USA website (sietarusa.org) and/or follow SIETAR-USA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sietarusa).
Please save the date now and plan to join us!
Ann Marie Lei, SIETAR-USA Board, Conference Oversight
President’s Town Hall Update
At the 2011 conference, we introduced “The President’s Town Hall Meeting.” This was an exciting process that we hoped would bring new ideas, and immediate feedback. We got that and so much more! There was so much energy following the town hall meeting that we developed a "graffiti wall" and invited participants to share their ideas, suggestions and comments on the wall. After the information was collected, we did our best to respond with either an action or reason as to why we could not take on a particular request. At the end of the conference, we gathered the information from the wall and the copious notes taken by our secretary at the Town Hall and compiled the following topics of interest:
Global SIETAR Relations
Connect with other professional organizations (i.e. IAF, NASAGA, FIGT, etc.)
Expansion of Topics and Work Focus
U.S. Immigrant Integration
Working with In-patriates
Although we would love to address all of the topics mentioned, there were four that generated the most energy and sub-topics. They include:
Global SIETAR Relations
We created work teams to focus on these four topic areas and each board member selected a team to work on. We will report our progress in the quarterly newsletters and invite you to respond via email at email@example.com
if you would like to contribute to the dialogue.
Kelli McCloud-Shingen, SIETAR-USA President
Self-Awareness and Ethics
by Yoko Hisano
‘Am I projecting my bias and past experiences? Or am I being objective?’
One day, one of my student leaders, Fen*, was expressing concern over a fellow student, Hanna*, who was not fulfilling her obligations to help organize a student event; Hanna relied on others to do her assigned tasks. In discussing with Fen how to appropriately respond to her performance, I suggested confronting Hanna. Fen and I shared thoughts on the issue, and I came to realize that my comments may have been subjective ones. I had been taking a side due to my own intercultural experiences in a similar, former situation. My and Fen’s exploration of the subject highlighted the importance of challenging one’s views, and how greater self-awareness can help us all in navigating intercultural teams. There is value to increasing our knowledge of another culture and learning about our clientele’s background. What if the information we gain is too general and not specific to our clientele? Can we say that knowing ourselves or having self-awareness is as equal to or, if not more, important?
Self-awareness in this case refers to going back to our foundation of who we are, why we do the things we do, and acknowledging that we have bias and past experiences that affect our interaction with others
. We want our clientele and our colleagues to trust us when we communicate. If what I am saying doesn’t match how I am acting, do you think I can gain trust from others?
In our everyday encounters with people, we project ourselves. To break it down even more, every single word that comes out of our mouth is a reflection of our knowledge and experience—knowledge and experience that we gained through formal and informal education at school and in society as well as exposure to media and family.
Simple enough but it’s easy to forget that these factors form our thought process and our views. Are we conscious of how much they influence our interactions? I believe that greater self-awareness is the first step of an effective interculturalist.
Quick formula for doing this is by asking yourself:
· What do I base my idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ on?
· What triggers me?
· Is my action matching what I say?
What did you notice? Were you able to connect with the deeper self by reflecting on your value system and past experiences? Would you not agree that we each have a unique past? Applying this to intercultural work, naturally, you will be interested in others—not just factual knowledge about others’ cultural backgrounds but who
they really are. You will appreciate more of the intricacies of another individual yet also appreciate your own intricacies. You will stop focusing on generalized information about a certain culture and country but you will be more curious to learn about each individual’s unique background. This provides a sense of humility in your communication.
In addition to self-awareness and awareness of others, patience is one more piece in this process—patience towards yourself and patience towards others in their learning; it is a continuing process. The beauty of our true nature is that we are capable of any kind of change that we desire. We each have our own pace. Some of us may be faster or slower in this process of gaining awareness. Taking as much time as we need to grow and being patient will allow us to be the interculturalist that we wish to be.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
The Eye on Ethics initiative is designed to invigorate an organization-wide conversation about the role ethics plays in every SIETAR-USA member’s work. The series will culminate this fall at the annual conference in Minneapolis, MN. At that time we will look at how far we have come and plan strategies for the future. Read and comment on the submissions every month at www.sietarusa.org. Be part of the SIETAR-USA conversation about ethics in our workplace and consider writing one yourself. You can also contact Maria Martin Thacker, SIETAR-USA Board, Ethics Portfolio, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Chapter News
This year, a new local group is planting seeds in the San Francisco Bay Area! SIETAR Berkeley has formed a partnership with the International House at the University of California, Berkeley, to host our meetings, which will coincide with exisiting intercultural and international events. Our first meeting will be on Tuesday, March 13th at 6:30pm in the I-House Home Room. Following the meeting we will watch the Chinese film "San Yuan Li," which is part of the I-House International Film Series. We are actively recruiting members. Local group leader Breidi Truscott can be contacted at email@example.com.
Bobbie Stewart, a freelance cross-cultural trainer based in Santa Cruz, CA, was recently appointed the new SUSA Newsletter Editor. Her experience in communications and intercultural education includes professional roles as a newspaper reporter, ESL teacher abroad, co-architect of an international leadership program in New Zealand and as a communications director for a climate issues campaign.
SIETAR-USA has moved! Please stay tuned for our mailing address. In the meantime, you can contact our President, Kelli McCloud-Shingen at (832) 746-3447.
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Issue of SUSA News: April 2012