SIETAR USA Conference Recap
We're back from a whirlwind week in San Diego! Not only were we very pleased to participate in a conference dedicated to an urgent and relevant theme – Building Bridges with Intercultural Competence: Changing World, Changing People, Changing Times – but we also enjoyed engaging with our colleagues and celebrating the richness of culture in its many forms. Here are a few highlights:
- We reconnected with friends from near and far. It was especially nice to say dzień dobry to one from Poland (whom we saw at last year's SIETAR Polska conference in Wrocław) and use our West Coast regional expertise to recommend a few itinerary stops!
- We got to meet an abundance of new colleagues, many who have such interesting backgrounds and stories that we could have chatted for hours. In particular, we were honored to become acquainted with the Vice President of Research and Innovation at SIETAR Mexico. Coming from Arizona, we highly value cross-border collaboration with our neighbors, and while we congratulate SIETAR Mexico on its continued development, we also hope that we will find an opportunity to work more closely together in the future.
- We learned from researchers and practitioners who approach the topic of culture from many different angles. As a sample: we listened to a presentation on cross-cultural adjustment challenges for kids who move between DoD (Department of Defense) and local schools near U.S. military bases, one on Canadian Business Culture advice for U.S. Americans, and another on an integrated Chinese model of identity based on the ancient zodiac and the five elements.
- We participated in events such as a tardeada cake and coffee session with a Mexican diplomat and a sake tasting hosted by representatives of SIETAR Japan. We were also moved by an inspiring fireside conversation with an early leader of our field, Harry Triandis, and we just might have been spotted doing the twist and the electric slide at the closing gala.
- We attended an Advanced Workshop on Creative Coaching with esteemed intercultural expert and coach Dr. George Renwick. For Melissa, it was a wonderful opportunity not only to do another deep dive into intercultural learning, but also to say hello to her former professor!
- We also presented. We were delighted to deliver a workshop on the theme of culture and change in organizations, and even more delighted when the room ran out of chairs! Thank you so much to everyone for your presence, participation, questions, and feedback. We encourage you to continue thinking of organizations as cultures and dealing with them as they really are.
- Last of all, we enjoyed San Diego. Whether by sampling the local cuisine, walking along the harbor at night, or exploring Little Italy, we found plenty to love – and we'll definitely look forward to returning soon. (Luckily, that's easy to do from our current base in Phoenix!)
SIETAR USA was a jam-packed week that enhanced our connection to the intercultural field, updated our knowledge, and expanded and refined our perspectives. As interdisciplinary thinkers and practitioners, however, we're not content to stick with just one professional perspective on the big questions of our time. Next month, we'll attend the Global Peter Drucker Forum, where we will examine the theme of Growth and Inclusive Prosperity. Given our concern with culture not merely for its own sake, but for the important role that it plays in fostering a functioning society, we are very eager for this intensive two-day program. For now, however, we will continue to reflect on all that we have learned in San Diego, and will carry the spirit of the conference with us as we guide our clients on their cultural challenges.