Film Review: Searching for Sugarman

MV5BMjA5Nzc2NDUyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjQwMjc5Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_It must be summer for me: two movie reviews in just a few weeks! Another really good movie, too, this one an Academy-award-winning documentary. If you love an amazing story that serendipitously weaves together continents, champions the underdog, and echoes the resonance of truth across cultures, Searching for Sugar Man is for you!

Sixto Rodriguez is the working-class son of Mexican immigrants to the USA. As an anti-establishment folk singer he published two albums in the 1970s about the marginalized poor of the inner city. The music is powerful and haunting, but his albums met with minimal success in the US, and Rodriguez was dropped from his record label.

Unknown to the Rodriguez family, several of his songs became anthems of the anti-apartheid movement (“the system is gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune”), especially among Afrikaners. Rodriguez became a platinum-selling hero in South Africa, supposedly more famous than Elvis Presley or the Rolling Stones. He was widely rumored to have committed suicide on stage—bestowing Rodriguez with a Jimi Hendrix-like aura—yet people knew nothing more about him than what they could glean from his album covers and liners.

In the mid-90s two men—record-store owner Stephen Segerman and music journalist Craig Bartholomew—decided to play detective and learn who Rodriguez was and what had become of him. They tried to contact his record label, but it had long ago gone out of business. They contacted the label’s owner, but he was of no help. They pored over the lyrics to Rodriguez’s songs, with not a lot of luck (they needed a cultural informant, as most any midwesterner or KISS fan could tell you that the lyrics from Can’t Get Away, “born in the troubled city in rock and roll USA,” refer to Detroit). Finally, they found the thread to unravel the story. This movie is the story of their quest.

SPOILER ALERT
It turns out they found Rodriguez alive and well in Detroit’s historic Woodbridge neighborhood, having earned a B.A. in philosophy and having worked for several decades in demolition and on production lines. He became politically active, running for city council, and has three daughters. Segerman and Bartholomew arrange for Rodriguez to visit South Africa for a sold-out series of tours, and the movie includes footage of the first of those tours.

Another interesting cross-cultural tidbit is that his youngest daughter, who accompanies Rodriguez on his first South African tour, falls in love and ends up living there.

The way in which Rodriguez’s words, from inner city Detroit, speak to those on another continent and in another hemisphere, is very powerful. What is most remarkable to me, however, is the dignity, peacefulness, and clarity of the man himself. Rodriguez seems content with the life he has led (we never witness him expressing regret for lost royalties or fame), and joyous and yet non-phased by his fame and success in South Africa. It makes me want to meet a man so fully rooted in and confident of who he is.

Transforming Lives: Education as an Alternative to Violence

AUN “The youth in Nigeria are beginning to speak—some with violence.
They attract attention. But others are also speaking.
The question is, is anyone listening to this plea
for western education, for training, for reform, for help?”

—Margee Ensign, President, American University of Nigeria

With all the grim news coming out of Nigeria these days, I thought you might want to hear about a little-known educational bright spot in the country: the unique programs offered at the American University of Nigeria, founded in Yola (capital of Adamwa state) in 2005 by the country’s former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar.

Despite Boko Haram’s year-long campaign of terror, including kidnapping over 300 girls from a school, murdering family members, burning villages, and displacing thousands of people, most families still desire an education for their girls and their boys, says Margee Ensign, President of AUN. And AUN provides it.

Both the university’s valedictorian and its graduating class speaker this year are women. The university is one of the leaders in the interfaith peace initiative. It has hired and trained more than 500 female and male security guards to protect the campus and its housing, offering each of them a free education. AUN facilities include a nursery school, primary and secondary school, in addition to the university itself. It recently dedicated a new library that has received international accolades for its efforts to create the finest e-library in Africa.

“Security comes not from our security force, but from our development and peace efforts,” Margee reports. In one of the poorest places on earth, AUN has a program to teach local women literacy and entrepreneurship skills, to enable them to generate income for their families. The university’s Peace Council has created 32 football and volleyball “unity teams” for young people to play in tournaments year-round. None of the young people have jobs, over half have dropped out of high school, and 10% have not even completed elementary school. Sports team members study a peace curriculum focused on building understanding and tolerance. The unity teams help ensure that these youth stay active and involved in their communities—making them less vulnerable to recruiting by terrorist groups like Boko Haram.

This kind of creative programming doesn’t happen by accident. Margee is a tough, dedicated, innovative, and tireless educator. Her extensive experience in administrative and faculty positions in universities in the USA (including Columbia University in New York, Tulane University in New Orleans, and the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California), and her interest and experience in international development in Africa, make her well-prepared to be president of AUN.

“I met with about 80 women in the [AUN entrepreneurship] program…They wanted to learn English, Nigeria’s official language, so that they could read to their children. In modern education, they knew, lay the only hope for the future.”

Margee relishes the challenges of working across cultures. She has embraced the local community culture, while building a university culture that retains important aspects of the US educational experience. After all, this is why parents are sending their children to college at AUN. She’s always recruiting—looking for people with just the right skills, willing to give their time and talent to join the international faculty and staff at AUN, a growing academic community in Nigeria.

The Cultural Detective Team believes it is possible to help make the world a better place through our actions. Yet, it isn’t always easy! Cultural Detective: Global Teamwork investigates some of the challenges involved in managing culturally diverse teams in today’s global environment, even if working in the same geographical location. What is the task? How do we form and maintain a high performing team? How do we manage the terrain or contexts in which team members work? How do we choose the right technology to support the team? How do time and space affect communication? Add culture to this mix, and it is even more complex! These are just the beginning of the challenges Margee faces each day—and she loves it!

All around the globe, dedicated, competent people are working to make a corner of the world a better place—often, not the corner of the world in which they were born and raised. Yet, they are motivated to share their skills in multiple arenas and diverse geographical locations. You probably know people that match this description—or are you one?! We’d be delighted to share their stories or yours with our readers!

With all the doom and gloom in the news, it is good to remind ourselves that generous people are doing wonderful things in difficult circumstances. A recent article written by Margee and published on the BBC.com website offers an often overlooked perspective on the area better known for the rampages of Boko Haram. We invite you to read Margee’s entire article here: “Nigerians defy terror to keep learning.”

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.

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.

10th Anniversary of Cultural Detective!

Cultural Detective 10th Anniversary

Do you know that 2014 is Cultural Detective‘s 10th anniversary year? It’s also the 25th anniversary of my company—Nipporica Associates, and the 35th anniversary of my work in the intercultural field! Help us celebrate! Show our authors some love! Send us a greeting and win a one-year subscription to Cultural Detective Online.

The Cultural Detective Worksheet was born back in the early 1980s in Japan, emerging out of the need for a real-time multicultural conflict resolution tool. The Values Lenses came shortly thereafter—what are today termed “negative perceptions” were then called “the dark side,” echoing the Star Wars popularity of the day.

I used Cultural Detective tools in my proprietary work for about ten years with enormous success. Then, around 2002, Shell Oil began saying that Cultural Detective gave them the most highly rated global management training they’d ever experienced—from Nigeria to Malaysia, The Hague to Houston. They told us they wanted us to develop packages for every country in which they did business. While I envisioned nothing so ambitious, I did ask ten of my most esteemed colleagues to develop five “test packages”—Cultural Detectives England, Germany, Japan, Sweden and USA. They were so enthused about this Method and material that more and more admired colleagues asked if they could author packages. Today, the Cultural Detective series includes 65 packages (with several more to be released in the next few months) and an online subscription service.

Our vision was to provide theoretically sound, practical development tools, easy for the lay person to use, effective for beginners and experienced interculturalists, at accessible prices. Our goal was to help build respect, understanding, justice, collaboration and sustainability in this world of ours. Bless you for accompanying us on this journey thus far!

Thank you so much, to all our authors, our customers, certified facilitators, users, colleagues and friends! What a grand adventure it has been! Growing faster than we ever imagined possible, and building intercultural competence in areas we never dared dream of: spiritual communities, universities and study abroad programs, professional associations, NGOs, governments, and business. Over the last ten years, the Cultural Detective Method as been refined, deepened, and broadened—thanks to all of you!

A group of Cultural Detective authors will gather this month—February 2014—in Mazatlán, México to celebrate the project’s 10th anniversary. Other authors are planning events in their locations around the world to commemorate this auspicious occasion. We have started to receive greetings, and I thought you would enjoy seeing a few of them. I’ll post a selection below.

Would you like to get in on the action? Share your greetings? Thank our authoring team? Thank the person who first introduced you to CD? How about if we make it fun?!

10th ANNIVERSARY CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT
Share your greeting with us, and the authors of our favorite submissions will receive a complimentary ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to Cultural Detective Online!

As you already know, Cultural Detective Online is a terrific personal development too. But what you may not know is that the user agreement allows you to project the contents for your students, trainees or coaches—as long as you tell them Cultural Detective Online is a publicly available tool to which they can subscribe, too. As a colleague told me yesterday,

“Why would any intercultural trainer NOT pay $150 for a TWO YEAR subscription to this tool? It gives me access to over 60 packages, allowing me to conduct such a breadth of quality training!”

How to enter? Record a video and upload it to YouTube, then send the url to ten@culturaldetective.com. Alternatively, you can send a photo greeting to that same address. Here’s the first photo we’ve received. It’s a good one, don’t you think? Many thanks to our partners at the International Educators Training Program, Queens University, Canada.

Allison10thCome on, join in the celebration! Your greeting can be as short as you like, funny or serious. We’d love to hear what Cultural Detective means to you, what difference it’s made for you, what impact it’s had on the field. Perhaps you can share a funny story of cross-cultural miscommunication, or share your success—a Cultural Defective or Cultural Effective! We can’t wait! If this series has meant something to you, please take a moment to let us know.

Send your entries by March 15th, 2014. We will contact the winners by email with instructions on how to redeem their prize of a full year’s access to all the content in CD Online, to use on their own or with their students. We can’t wait to receive your message!

Following are a few of the video greetings that we’ve already received, with a bit of background about each:

Microsoft uses Cultural Detective to coach their international support engineers. The first year they used it, they attributed a 30% increase in customer satisfaction directly to Cultural Detective. The Culture and Communication Program staff is truly inspiring. In the clip below, Shalini Thomas shares her greetings with the Cultural Detective community.

AFS, the international exchange organization with operations in more than 50 countries, has long used Cultural Detective with staff, volunteers, students, and host families. Nearly everywhere I travel, anywhere on our planet, there is almost always someone from AFS in the audience. We are thrilled to know that our leaders of tomorrow are developing intercultural competence through our partnership with AFS! I first met Hazar Yildirim in Istanbul, where he and the AFS contingent there gave me a very warm welcome. Now he’s based in New York. Here is what Hazar has to say:

The Intercultural Development Research Institute (IDRI) is committed to longer-term, sustained development of intercultural competence. Their motto is “coherent theory generates powerful practice.” Thus, it means a lot to me when the co-founder of that Institute, Milton Bennett, says Cultural Detective is a tool that truly translates theory into practice and carries on the heritage of the founders of the intercultural field. I met Milton back in 1982, at the Stanford Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC).

The last greeting I’ll share with you here comes from another customer, Atieh International, specialists in emerging and risky markets. “The world of today comes filled with new opportunities hidden in a sea of uncertainty and risk. It is our job to assist our clients to understand and be prepared for the tides and waves, the ebbs and flows in each market, to appreciate the beauty and depth of cultures and diversity and to build sustainable strategies founded on reliable intelligence and trust.” We are privileged to be associated with them. Managing Partner Pari Namazie shares her remarks, below.

Please block some time now to make or record your greeting and send it to us! We are looking forward to hearing from you, and we would especially love to share a gift subscription with you! Our authors work hard, not to pursue monetary wealth, but impassioned by a commitment to the vision of everybody having a voice, sharing their gifts, and realizing their potential. Let them know they have made a difference!

We will post the video greetings we receive to the playlist below. Take a look at those we have so far, including greetings from CIEE, Korn Ferry, and EDS. They are very heartening to watch! We look forward to hearing from you!

Living Your Ideal Global Life Summit

SummitCollage-Website-FixedHave you been wanting to launch your ideal global life, but you are unsure where to get started, how to make it happen, or how to figure out what your ideal global life even looks like? 

Cultural Detective colleagues, Cate Brubaker and Sabrina Zieglar, have put together a slate of 20 experts who will present and chat with you free-of-charge during the week of January 13-17, 2014. The five-day summit will be conducted virtually. The full schedule along with daily themes is now live, and registration is open. I am a speaker, several esteemed colleagues are also part of the summit, and there are quite a few others that I don’t know but I am also very excited to learn from. Do not miss this opportunity!

As a supplement to the Summit itself, or if you have to miss some of the sessions, I’m excited to let you know of a value-packed resource of inspiring videos from the 20 experts, including life-changing tools like the Destination: Nomadtopia ebook, the Build Your Online Business ebook, a workbook on relaunching yourself after being abroad, and more. Click here for more information or to purchase the bundle.

BundleImage

Who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing can’t hold you back from living the rewarding global life you desire. Whether you’re a digital nomad, expat, work-at-home mom, or travel newbie, 2014 is the year to launch your ideal global life. And this is the only comprehensive resource available that covers everything for the newly global to the experienced digital nomad.

The bundle is only available for a limited time, so don’t miss out on this chance to launch your ideal global life with 20 experts and their communities supporting you. Through January 13th the bundle will be discounted at US$47; after that date it is forecast to sell for US$97.

I hope to see you at the Summit!

The Turkish Spring

Bosphorous Bridge ProtestI woke up with a message from Istanbul: “Mai! We are having a Turkish Spring!”

Bosphorus Bridge was captured with thousands of protesters flowing across the bridge that links Asia and Europe. My friend is probably among those people who are angrily demanding that Prime Minister Erdogan respect the will of his people instead of silencing dissidents, Islamizing Ataturk’s legacy, and blaming social media as the “the worst menace to society.”

With a population almost 100% Muslim, for me, strangely, Turkey has never felt like an Islamic country. Probably because the bedrock of this nation is firmly Greek and Roman, and because Istanbul used to be the pride of western civilization. Today the country is a meeting point of two powerful flows between East and West, presenting to the world a wonderful concert conducted by the elements of two most terrific symphonies: Asian and European cultures. The Bosphorus Bridge, glamorously lit up with colorful lights every night, connects the two continents and stands as a symbol for that reality.

Of course, living up to expectations is not always easy. A perfect balance is not always the case, especially when contrasts, sometimes radical contrasts, seem to be the very points that make Turkey attractive. For my friend, she is acting to gain back that balance. The protests at the moment are about that momentum as well, balancing ideologies, adding on, taking off, gaining and losing here and there to keep that balance of contrasts to the point that it does not topple the whole system, but rebalances it safely and interestingly enough to sustain itself and continue to attract people.

I dug up a picture of the Bosphorus Bridge in its peaceful times, sending a message to my friend with a quote from none other than Napoleon himself, who put his Parisian pride in the back room and declared to everyone: “if the world was a country, Istanbul would be its capital.”

Oldie but Goodie: Comprehensive Expatriate Support System

Expat-Flow

Moving overseas is an exciting yet stressful time for all involved: the person transitioning to a new position, the expat’s family who is relocating, and the organization—both the office dealing with the loss of a valued employee, and the receiving organization. We all know there are a myriad of details involved in preparing someone to work abroad, but where to start and what to include?

Years ago, when Cultural Detective Online was not yet a glimmer in anyone’s dreams, I put together the above guide for a client. You are most welcome to use it if it can be of assistance (click through to view a larger version), though I ask that you retain the copyright and url of the original.

I was proud to work with that client. They valued their international assignees, desiring that the employee and the relocating family become stronger from international assignment, and that both the receiving organization and the organization as a whole learn and grow. They thus asked me to “map” a process to help make that happen.

Today, Cultural Detective Online is an excellent tool to use with expatriates, relocating families, and receiving teams and organizations, at each stage of the relocation process. It offers a process as well as information at your fingertips — anytime, anywhere — to help build bridges across cultures, to help each of us better understand those we work with, and to get to know ourselves better.

“The Cultural Detective Online product is a sound investment for my work as an intercultural and relocation coach. I suggest to my clients to get a subscription for themselves.”
—Maartje Goodeve, Nascence Coaching, BC, Canada

How might you update the process in the graphic above? How could you use Cultural Detective Online in combination with other tools, approaches and your own facilitation to enhance expatriate performance?

Two Values Lens Stories

©Cultural Detective, from Cultural Detective Self Discovery

©Cultural Detective, from Cultural Detective Self Discovery

The beauty of Cultural Detective Values Lenses?

A colleague was just telling me this morning that he had a class of students from France and Italy, and one Thai woman. The students had worked with Cultural Detective Self Discovery; they had reflected on their personal values and history, and created personal Values Lenses.

Next my colleague had walked through the French Values Lens with the class, and asked them to compare their personal Lenses with the national Lens, the country in which all of the students were residing and studying. The French students perceived a lot of resonance with their national culture, and the foreign students identified their experience in France as well.

Next my friend walked through the Italian Values Lens, and got the same reaction.

Finally, when he went to the Thai Values Lens, he realized he knew next to nothing about Thais, and that he couldn’t even pronounce the words on the Lens. Thus, he elected to ask the Thai student, blindsiding her or putting her on the spot if you will — he asked her to come up and introduce the class to the Thai Values Lens, which she had only just seen in that moment!

This Thai participant led the other students, and the professor, on a journey into Thai culture that took their breath away! She shared examples of Thai behavior and their meaning that built the other students’, and the teacher’s, respect for who she is and where she comes from.

Such can be the power of a Values Lens. It is not a stereotype. It captures the central tendency, the norm, of a group of people, in terms people can identify with. Thus, it is usually quite easy for a representative of the culture to introduce the values in a Values Lens, using stories from everyday life in that culture.

Second example, much shorter:

So many people nowadays tell us they are global nomads, TCKs, Blended Culture people. And they are. And, this does not mean that they don’t have a culture; it means they have more cultural strands woven into their identity than perhaps the average person!

The second story involves one young woman, who insisted she was nothing like her national culture. She was an individual, a global citizen: culture-less, in a way. In looking at her national culture Values Lens, she exclaimed out loud during class, “Oh my God! I AM Slovak!”

The goal of Cultural Detective Values Lenses as tools is to facilitate dialogue and understanding, both understanding of self and others, and thus enable collaboration that brings out the best of each of us. Please help us make that happen, by sharing your tips, techniques, and designs, and by encouraging best practice.