About Dianne Hofner Saphiere

There are loads of talented people in this gorgeous world of ours. We all have a unique contribution to make, and if we collaborate, I am confident we have all the pieces we need to solve any problem we face. I have been an intercultural organizational effectiveness consultant since 1979, working primarily with for-profit multinational corporations. I lived and worked in Japan in the late 70s through the 80s, currently live in and work from México, where with a wonderful partner I'm raising a bicultural, global-minded teenager (I hope!). I have worked with organizations and people from over 100 nations in my career. What's your story?

Using Cultural Detective Online in a College Class

BCCUNYhoriz_PMS288_PMS286A guest blog post by Dr. Elisabeth Gareis (Communication Studies, Baruch College, City University of New York)

With many colleges increasing their online course offerings, there is a great need for training tools that can be used as segments in online classes. Last fall, I was looking for such a tool for my graduate class in International Business Communication. In previous face-to-face renditions of the course, I had used Ecotonos with great success. When I couldn’t find a simulation game for online asynchronous settings, I decided to try the Cultural Detective Online (CDO).

One course assignment involves student groups investigating a country of their choice through readings and interviews, focusing on sub-topics such as oral and written communication, business customs, and business-related news events. In the end, the groups create webpages on their country, complete with narrated slideshows on each sub-topic.

Last fall, I assigned the CDO only for exploratory purposes. Before the students embarked on their adventure, I gave a screencast lecture on training tools, covering differences in type (e.g., simulations versus games), giving examples of specific ones (e.g., Barnga, Ecotonos, Diversophy), and discussing different uses (e.g., training versus coaching). The students had various levels of exposure to intercultural communication: some had overseas experience and others were new to the subject matter. None of them had used a training tool before.

Ellissa Corwin (COM 9656 Fall 2013)
The students all obtained a one-month subscription to explore CDO as an example of a training tool, and, at the same time, to get started on their country research. Their assignment was to view the video tutorials and then to complete the CDO package for their target country (i.e., to explore all sections, including the Lenses, proverbs/sayings, daily life examples, negative perceptions, and all incidents). In the end, they analyzed and discussed the experience. Here are some representative responses:

  • “The interface is easy to use.”
  • “The dashboard is a great way to orient the user at the start of their cultural investigation. It can be very helpful to write out what your aims are when doing research.”
  • “I think the Cultural Detective does a very good job of outlining primary Lenses. I particularly enjoyed the in-depth materials associated with each lens and learning from the interactions. I also appreciated that they include both positive and possibly negative perceptions of each trait.”
  • “I like how the Lenses are organized. I especially like the proverbs and daily-life examples.”
  • “I found it useful to begin learning about my group’s particular country and a good starting point for further research.”
  • “This type of in-the-moment skill-building practice really helps reinforce learning and build user confidence. The Cultural Detective also helped bring our textbook to life and clarify learning.”
  • “I liked the fact that all of the site’s sources are listed. This can really help someone who wants to dive deeper into a particular country.”
  • “Very organized and user friendly!”

Exploring the CDO gave the students insight into the world of intercultural training and coaching, and provided them with quality information on their target country. As it is self-paced, it is easily integrated into asynchronous online college classes.

I am using CDO again this semester, but this time a little differently. In addition to exploring the tool, students’ final presentations will include using their research findings (readings and interviews) to design an activity that is modeled after the incidents in CDO. In other words, each student will contribute an issue from his/her sub-topic to a scenario or dialogue, which will then be analyzed by other classmates. Not only will this better integrate CDO into the course, it will also allow students to directly apply their learning.

Cultural Detective Online is a great tool, and I recommend it highly. Students greatly enjoy their learning via the CDO.

A note from the Cultural Detective Team:

Please contact us if you’d like to learn how to integrate CDO into your classroom experience.

Coming soon—exciting new CDO functionality will allow members of a “group” (e.g., a class or a team) to collaboratively create critical incidents, which can be submitted to the group administrator (professor or team leader) for approval, and then shared with other group members for analysis and discussion.

Have you joined us for a free webinar to see how Cultural Detective Online can be integrated in your academic or business setting? The next one is April 30th—attendance is limited so register now: Cultural Detective Online Webinar

 

Lack of Diversity Correlates with Religious Hostility

world-religious-diversityQuick! What is the most religiously diverse area of the world? Not the Middle East—it’s primarily Muslim, and not Latin America—it’s primarily Christian.

It is, of course, the Asia Pacific region, home to a great diversity of religious traditions including Islam and Christianity, as well as Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and loads more. This is just one interesting tidbit from a report on world religions released this week by the Pew Research Center.

More noteworthy than this fact, however, is that some of the world’s least religiously diverse places are home to the highest rates of social violence involving religion. Of the five countries exhibiting the most religious violence:
  • Afghanistan and Somalia both rank in the bottom ten for religious diversity, with a “Religious Diversity Index” or RDI of 0.1.
  • Pakistan ranks as having “low diversity,” with an RDI of 0.8.
  • India (RDI 4.0) and Israel (RDI 4.5) are ranked as “moderately diverse.”

If diversity indeed correlates with lower violence, that is indeed good news for diversity and pluralism, and a desire to discourage violence and promote inclusion are good reasons to put Cultural Detective Islam and Cultural Detective Jewish Culture to good use! And please, help us create packages for other major world religions! Such tools are especially needed given that the Pew Research studies show huge increases in religious hostilities in nearly every world region.

increase in religious hostilities

How did this finding, correlating the lack of religious diversity and hostility, come about? In December 2012, Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life published a report entitled, “The Global Religious Landscape,” based on data gathered in 2010. It found, in part, that:

“Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories … estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.”

01_groupsThen, in January 2014 Pew published the results of another study in its article, “Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High.” It involved data on 198 countries:

“A third (33%) of the countries and territories in the study had high religious hostilities in 2012, up from 29% in 2011 and 20% as of mid-2007. Religious hostilities increased in every major region of the world except the Americas.”

socialHostilitiesJust this month, April 4, 2014, the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, which analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world, published further analysis that it conducted on the 2010 data. They produced a very interesting index that ranks each country by its level of religious diversity—its RDI, or “Religious Diversity Index.” RDI was calculated based on the percentage of each country’s population that belongs to the eight major religious groups defined by Pew. The closer a country comes to having equal shares of the eight groups, the higher its score on the 10-point index.

To quote from the report,

“In order to have data that were comparable across many countries, the study focused on five widely recognized world religions—Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism—that collectively account for roughly three-quarters of the world’s population. The remainder of the global population was consolidated into three additional groups: the religiously unaffiliated (those who say they are atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular); adherents of folk or traditional religions (including members of African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions and Australian aboriginal religions); and adherents of other religions (such as the Baha’i faith, Jainism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism).”

This, of course, means that diversity within these larger religious sub-groups was not examined.

Linking the findings from phase two (social hostility) and phase three (religious diversity) shows the correlation between lack of religious diversity and social hostility.

I would emphasize that the link between lack of religious diversity and increased social violence does not appear to be a finding reported by Pew Research. Rather, it is an observation written by Emma Green in The Atlantic. The top five—and many others—of the most socially hostile countries do indeed have lower RDIs. However, there are countries with low religious diversity that also show low ratings for religious hostility: Namibia, Marshall Islands, Malta, Kiribati, Cambodia, Djibouti, Lesotho, and Grenada among them.

The research is definitely worth reading. The overall increase in religious hostility is driven by certain types of hostility, including abuse of religious minorities, harassment of women over religious dress, violence to enforce religious norms, mob violence related to religion, and religion-related terrorist violence. Click on any photo to enlarge.

Emma Green ends her article with an interesting thought:

“It may not be true everywhere, but these data suggest something remarkable: Religious pluralism can be, and often is, compatible with peaceful societies.”

What do you think? What is your experience? What successful efforts have you seen to bridge religious differences and increase tolerance and respect?

Our New Friend, Roquillo…

A guest blog post by Basma Ibrahim DeVries and Tuula Piispanen-Krabbe

During our recent Cultural Detective Tenth Anniversary meetings and celebrations in Mazatlán, Mexico, some of those attending used a free hour in the program to walk out into the community to conduct short ethnographic studies—to practice their detective skills. Below is a summary of what interested one group. Click here for a link to the instructions for this activity; you are most welcome to adapt them for your own purposes! Just think how frequently we travel to very different places for work, and how often we don’t take the time to interact with the local people in ways that help us get to know them as people. The same can be said for the beautiful places we travel as tourists. Let’s make a point of practicing our Cultural Detective skills wherever we are, building cross-cultural respect, understanding, and friendship!

Rogelio 1It was a beautiful sunny morning as we set out to experience Mazatlán. Shortly into our walk, we turned down a side street, heading towards the beach. We were immediately attracted by vibrant colors and a handsomely dressed man. While most shops were not yet open for the day, he was diligently setting up his table of lovely beaded goods.

We approached his “table-shop” and began admiring the tiny-bead necklaces, bracelets, earrings, decorative boxes, bowls, and charms. Striking up a conversation, we learned that this artist and businessman, Roquillo, moved to the Mazatlán area two years ago after living in the mountains all his life. His description of life in the mountains sounded very communal and free of tourists and outside influence. He now lives on La Isla de la Piedra with his wife, Christiana; 4-year old daughter, Adrianne; 3-year old son, Damian; and 8-month old daughter, Lulu. We talked about how Basma’s two children are the same ages as his oldest and youngest.

Roquillo mainly sells his goods in Mazatlán, where he said it is busy most of the year. He told us that July and August are the slowest months—perhaps fewer tourists from colder areas come to Mazatlan in the summer? Roquillo also spends a couple months each year in Puerto Vallarta, where he said there are many cruise ships, making for good business there. We related his willingness to travel to sell his goods to a very strong value on providing for his family. Our guess is he may even send money back home to his extended family and community, though we failed to ask him that question.

Roquillo told us that his whole family is involved in making the beaded goods, and each contributes based on skill level. He said it takes about one day to make a pair of earrings or a necklace. One person can make two bracelets per day. His wife, Cristiana, also does embroidery, and he showed us some beautiful traditional children’s clothes that she had made. Basma was disappointed he didn’t have any sizes that would fit her children. However, she did purchase lovely jewelry for her nieces, and an iguana key chain for her nephew.

We thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with Roquillo—despite our less-than-stellar Spanish skills. We were impressed by how he emphasized the importance of the family involvement in the business and by his desire to keep this traditional beading craft alive and accessible to others. (Click on any photo to enlarge it or view them as a slideshow.)

Of course, the first Cultural Detective Mexico core value to stand out was that of Familia y relaciones (Family and relationships). As we had learned, in Mexico the family is generally the core network and main nucleus of affiliation and obligation. No wonder Roquillo was proud that they all worked together, each contributing according to his or her ability! And the sacrifices he made, including moving his family to the city, were decisions to support and better his family’s opportunities.

Tradición (Tradition) is also important to Roquillo, as evidenced by the fact he is proudly holding onto a craft from his village, and passing that knowledge along to his children. Traditions provide stability and help maintain cultural identity—a big challenge amid the rapid growth and change in Mexico today. Helping children understand and preserve their cultural heritage is not easy.

Roquillo’s amiable manner and gentle way of interacting may have reflected his value of Sentirse agusto (feeling good about someone or something). This feeling allows people to preserve their dignity, a self-image of worth, and pride. Caer bién (to be liked or to like others) means to be pleasant or to find someone pleasant, and it is part of Sentirse agusto. Roquillo was most cordial, answered our questions patiently as we struggled with our limited Spanish, and he even wanted a copy of the pictures we took of him. Sentirse agusto is also at the core of the great Mexican hosting tradition, with a strong value placed on making the guest (in this case, us) feel comfortable.

Roquillo is obviously a member of an indigenous group, most probably Huichól. No doubt, then, and as with each one of us, there are layers of cultural values beyond the Mexican national values that permeate the way he was brought up. We only wish we had had more time to visit with Roquillo, better Spanish language skills with which to do it, and that we would have thought of all the questions we were to be asked by our fellow authors upon our return!

Ten Years of Building Respect, Understanding, Justice and Collaboration!

P1110373Thank you for joining us on the journey to build respect, justice and collaboration across cultures!

A group of our authors recently gathered in Mazatlán, Mexico to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this collaborative project, Cultural Detective. We held three days of work meetings and a facilitator certification workshop; we hosted a wonderful party that included the indigenous Yoreme Deer Dance; and we played—on the beach, in the water, at restaurants, with music, and all around town!

Our community members will have more celebrations around the world throughout 2014; contact us if you’d like to join one!

Below is a slideshow of just some of the many authors and community members who have contributed to making Cultural Detective such an amazing tool, and to using it to transform the world in which we live, bit by bit.

Are you curious about how Cultural Detective came to be? You might want to read this short history of our project.

We have received quite a few greetings from customers and community members—their videos show the breadth of application of this toolset. Take a look at the anniversary playlist on the Cultural Detective YouTube channel.

Want to become more active, transforming the communities in which you live and work? Join us for a free webinar and three-day pass to Cultural Detective Online, or join the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

The Story of Eva

IMG_0465A guest blog post by Don Rutherford and Ellen James

During our recent Cultural Detective Tenth Anniversary meetings and celebrations in Mazatlán, Mexico, some of those attending used a free hour in the program to walk out into the community to conduct short ethnographic studies—to practice their detective skills. Below is a summary of what interested one group.

Click here for a link to the instructions for this activity; you are most welcome to adapt them for your own purposes! Just think how frequently we travel to very different places for work, and how often we don’t take the time to interact with the local people in ways that help us get to know them as people. The same can be said for the beautiful places we travel as tourists. Let’s make a point of practicing our Cultural Detective skills wherever we are, building cross-cultural respect, understanding, and friendship!

Eva 2

Eva is a candy store manager in Mazatlán, Mexico. Her tidy shop offers an amazing array of candy and treats including freshly roasted and flavored peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and more. Coconut-based treats are also available, as are some sweets imported from other parts of Mexico. Truly a treasure trove of goodies for those of us fond of sugary treats! Although not overly crowded, the store had a steady stream of happy customers during the time we were there.

We met Eva as she was stirring a delicious smelling vat of cacajuatos garapinyatas—peanuts in syrup with sesame seeds—the scent and the lovely old copper kettle drawing us off the street and into the open-front store. She says the production of the sweets is fairly easy, though she showed us a couple of scars on her arm from burns that are “hazards of the job.”

Eva was quite serious when we first met her; however, she was more than happy to give us a tour of her shop and answer our questions. She was also gently patient with our very rudimentary Spanish. When we couldn’t find the right words, she was able to elaborate in English—as her English was much better than our Spanish.

She is 25, confident, pretty and wears really high heels, as do many fashionable women we saw in Mazatlan. The store belongs to her uncle (who lives in Puerto Vallarta, six hours south), and it is located near the cathedral in the Centro Histórico District of Mazatlán, an area that draws many tourists. Eva, herself, is from Guadalajara (five hours into the interior of Mexico), where her immediate family remains. She moved to Mazatlan to run the candy shop four years ago as she felt there were more tourists, and, therefore, more work opportunity. The other employees in the candy store are not family members.

Having recently reviewed the CD Mexico core values with Rossana Johnston, CD Mexico author, we pulled out our Cultural Detective magnifying glass and took a look at our interaction with Eva.

  • Familia y relaciones/Family and relationships: The family gives its members stability, support, and protection in economic, emotional, and social spheres, and also gives a sense of belonging to and a permanent connection with others from the same group. This value was easy to see in action—Eva works long hours for her uncle, who owns the business. He trusts his niece to successfully run his candy store and manage the other employees. Eva understands the importance of relationships in everyday life, and we think this influenced her willingness her take the time to patiently answer our questions and help us when we struggled with our Spanish-language facility (or lack there of).
  • Hay que cuidarse/Self-protectiveness: This common Mexican expression and attitude can be understood as a certain level of doubt about each other’s honesty, reliability, competence, and care. Trust does not normally come easy outside of the family. We noticed that Eva was very formal and reserved when we first started speaking with her. As we chatted a bit more and she understood our purpose, she seemed to become more friendly and open in her manner and conversation.
  • Mañana/Tomorrow: Time in Mexico tends to be perceived as elastic, circular, and flexible—what cannot be done today, will be done some other time. Any moment in life can be impacted by colliding factors, many of which are out of one’s control.
    Candy is a simple pleasure—enjoy life now—eat the sweets—who knows what tomorrow will bring?
  • Cantinflismo/Affable circular communication: Mexican patterns of communication are generally cordial, chatty, and informal. Mexicans are quick to strike a joke to set a harmonious tone. Initially, Eva seemed more serious than some Mexicanas, but once engaged in conversation, the smiles emerged and she was joking about her scars.
  • Sentirse agusto/Feel good about someone or something. One’s sense of feeling accepted, acknowledged, respected, and within a comfortable atmosphere is an important gage of one’s emotional comfort level with someone or something. We found Eva competent and confident in her abilities, and she seemed to be respected as the manager by the ways in which other employees interacted with her. The atmosphere in the candy shop was very comfortable and welcoming. Even though she is on her feet all day, Eva wears high-heeled shoes—she knows who she is and feels good about it!

We thoroughly enjoyed meeting Eva, and certainly bought and ate more candy than we would have without the “assignment.” Turning the Cultural Detective magnifying glass on ourselves, we clearly evidenced the Canadian values of “Task and Project Orientation,” as we sampled a variety of candies and sweets to make sure the quality was maintained throughout the range of products! We took “Individual Initiative” to do this, and used our value of “Informality” to help create a relaxed and comfortable conversation with Eva. As good practitioners of “Global Citizenship,” we wanted to do the right thing and make a positive contribution to the global community. So we bought candy treats to take home to friends. And finally, our value of “Consensus” was in evidence when we couldn’t decide on exactly which kind of candy to get for ourselves. We ended up getting both of our favorite kinds!

Gracias, Eva!

 

A Vietnamese Woman’s Experience of the Arab Spring

1947577_10203237474119981_1557351267_nCultural Detective Vietnam co-author, Phuong-Mai Nguyen, spent eight months traveling through 13 countries, tracing the path of Islam from Saudi Arabia to East Asia. She chronicled her journey here on this blog. Mai traveled alone, during the height of the Arab Spring, amidst so many changes and so much turmoil. She met hospitality everywhere she went, learned a whole lot, and fell in love with the people and places.

Mai has just launched her Vietnamese-language book (two, actually) about her journey. The English edition will debut in October. Be sure to catch her powerful short video, below.

Lessons in Culture from Twenty-Four Japanese Hula Dancers

Dianne Hofner Saphiere:

Just spoke with Tim this morning. I so enjoy his storytelling and his humor. I am confident you will learn a lot from this powerful, simple yet profound, story. Gorgeous photo, too!

Originally posted on Intercultural Twilight Zone:


kiwala'o

It was going to be a fun gig. Twenty-four hula instructors from Japan were to visit the Island of Hawaii to study traditional Hawaiian Kahiko-style hula from a local kumu hula. Our job was to facilitate communication and cooperation between the local hosts and our Japanese guests.

Upon arrival we placed a lei around the necks of our guests, then broke the Japanese “no-hug rule” with each and every one of them. (Freaked them out a little but made everyone smile.) Next stop was the local hotel where they rested and freshened up for our opening ceremony that evening.

The next four days our guests underwent intensive instruction from the local kumu hula, learning Kahiko basics and the proper chants, culminating in a sacred gathering at the edge of Hawaii’s smoking Halema’uma’u crater where they danced and chanted for Pele.

I wasn’t there to witness the event myself but my…

View original 1,822 more words

Third Anniversary 3•11

3-11

AFLO / MAINICHI NEWSPAPER / EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Today in Japan marks three years since the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster in the Tohoku area of Japan—the 3/11 triple disaster. Japanese society marks services for the passing of the dead at specified intervals, including one at the third anniversary of death, making this year especially important. I would like to join my heart and prayers with all those honoring the death of loved ones, and the loss of so much history and heritage.

I occasionally worked in Soma, with some wonderful people. On 3/11 I was so proud that they were able to evacuate hundreds of people in LESS THAN FIFTEEN MINUTES, all of them getting to safety and out to help their families and communities. Most of the facility itself was inundated, much of it lost. Not all were so fortunate. On this third anniversary, 2,636 people are still missing. The official death toll stands at 15,884 in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, according to the National Police Agency. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people still live in ‘temporary’ dwellings, three years later.

For many communities, anxiety over radiation poisoning remains high, as many in Japan discuss either re-opening the nation’s nuclear plants or closing them entirely. National planners wish to get Tohoku areas rebuilt but often there is a sense of disjunction between the views of bureaucrats based in central cities and those of local Tohoku dwellers living in affected communities. The Seattle Times has run an excellent article entitled, “Recovery isn’t in sight 3 years after Japan’s tsunami.” I also found an article about the technological advances that are occurring because of this disaster. I have long been opposed to nuclear power, and pray the Japanese people will find other workable power sources for their needs. Last year at this time many Japanese were wearing masks, as chemical pollutants from China had drifted their way. We need to be better stewards of our planet, and what stronger call has there been?

iejiFor those of you who love movies as I do, this month the first Japanese film on the Fukushima nuclear disaster hit theaters. Entitled Homeland (Ieji or “The Road Home” in Japanese) — it features scenes shot in areas once declared no-go zones by the government due to high radiation levels. The film is about a farming family forced to leave their ancestral lands and live in temporary housing. I know I for one can’t wait to view it.

A college friend of mine who is a long-time personality on Japanese television, Dan Kahl, has been wonderfully responsible about keeping all of us informed about developments in the area of Japan in which he has lived for decades. You can follow Dan on Twitter if you are interested (he often posts in Japanese, and in Tohoku dialect at that).

The 3•11 area is really gorgeous. In closing, I thought it might be a fitting honor to share with you a timelapse movie of the natural beauty of Fukushima Prefecture.

View last year’s anniversary post here.

Venezuela: We Want to be Heard!

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Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

One of my oldest and dearest friends is Venezolana, a teacher who loves her country, fights for the future of children, and hates what’s been happening there—15 years of runaway inflation, shortages, insecurity, lack of opportunities. She write me, “Ay, comadrita, all of this is so sad. They are killing the students. We are very scared. Please pray for us.”

Yesterday we received this very disturbing report, which we immediately passed on via our social media: The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep At the Switch, by Franciso Toro. The lack of power, lack of voice, lack of justice, finally met a breaking point. People protested. And the reaction from Maduro’s government was swift and violent. Caracas, Valencia, Mérida and San Cristobál have become like war zones.

Protests began innocently enough, with traditional cacerolazos (beating of pots and pans) lead by upstanding citizens. Our friend’s sister is a choir leader at her church; she was attacked by colectivos—state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles—in front of her church while beating a pan. Her glasses were stolen, her photo was taken, and she was threatened with death.

I am repeatedly told that people in Venezuela feel cut off from the international community. Twitter is their only way to really communicate. They desperately want everyone to know what’s going on and how we can help them trying to make change with people power. The Venezuelan diaspora is organizing, called “SOS Venezuela.”

Please do what you can to raise awareness and get help their way. We can transform our world. There is power in each of us, some small step we can take, towards justice and peace.

Check out these additional photos.