New Law Threatens to Tear Apart Israeli Community

coverIsraelA new law threatens to tear apart communities and mutual agreements in Israeli society and brings up questions that haven’t been discussed—more democratic or more Jewish? There may be hope yet.
Guest blog post by Cultural Detective Israel co-author Anat Kedem

I wanted to share with you what has been going on in Israel. A new law declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people, the so-called “Jewish Nationality Bill,” was passed last week. It has the weight of a constitutional amendment because it’s a “basic law.”

It fits right in with similar laws passed recently in other parts of the world. Sections of the law formalize symbols of statehood such as the national anthem and emblem, something that lawmakers say was missing from the Israeli legislative basis. Israel has 15 Basic Laws that require a 75% majority in the parliament to change. They constitute the legal foundation of our different institutions and are intended to be the basis for a future constitution.

The controversy is around the timing and impact of the new law and mostly around two sections in it.

  1. The first makes Hebrew the only official language, downgrading the position of Arabic to a “special” language—no longer a formal one.
  2. The other section allows communities (like the communal village where I live) to turn away people not belonging to the same ethnic group. Before this law, someone denied permission to live somewhere could sue on the basis of discrimination. With this new law there can be religious towns that will be allowed to deny secular people; Jewish villages that can turn away Arabs wanting to live there; and Arab villages that can not accept Jews. This is where the potential for division and destruction in this law is most apparent.

The new law is quite a coup for Bibi and his supporters, with protests by opposition who say it runs counter to the Basic Laws of Israel, including “complete equality of social and political rights” for “all its inhabitants” no matter their religion, race or sex. The Druze minority has found themselves excluded by the law, becoming second-rate citizens in spite of the fact that they shoulder citizen duties such as service in the military.

There was a major demonstration last Saturday evening, one of the largest in history, where side by side Jews and Druze showed solidarity. Our Arabic language learning group attended together. The protest finished with a loud and emotion-filled singing of the national anthem. It was very strengthening to come together and show that we have more unity than divisiveness.

It is a heartbreaking moment here, a death-inducing blow to everyone who believes in different groups living together, anyone that holds a vision of Israel being democratic and Jewish at the same time with equality for all. Holding both sides, as good Cultural Detectives do—being a democracy and a Jewish state—has always been a work in progress, necessitating gentle maneuvering, extensive dialogue and bridge building, but now the very fabric of our mutual existence here has been brutally torn apart. I see this as a state-generated act of exclusion, drawing a line between those that “belong” and those that are required to live in a permanent sense of existential insecurity, dependent on the good will of the government.

That said, we don’t yet know if this law will stand up to supreme court scrutiny. It was legislated by a very narrow margin and major lawmakers are conceding it will need to be changed. The Israeli parliament is out for summer break so nothing can be done now.  Things in Israel change all the time adapting to new circumstances—so who knows?!!!!

We’ve been holding counsel with friends and neighbors, and have witnessed lots of grass roots initiatives going on now. This might be a change for the better after all. People need to be much more involved with the daily work of representation—no more ballet once in four years and believing that things will be taken care of. We are in for interesting times. Passing the law has had the opposite of its intended impact, bringing us closer together. All around there are acts of solidarity. One of the hospitals had the staff stand outside with signs: “Jews and Arabs working here will not be made into enemies.” Impromptu Arabic learning groups have gathered, and Israel’s president, who must sign the law, said he will sign it in Arabic. A well regarded Israeli Arab lawmaker resigned from parliament, and writers and former chiefs of Army staffs are speaking out.

David Grossman, an Israeli writer who won the Man Brooker award and who serves as our moral compass, wrote an open letter in the August 3rd newspaper. He wrote,

“For hundreds and thousands of years, the Jewish people were a minority in the countries in which they lived. The experience of being a minority shaped our identity, sharpened our moral sensitivity. Now we Jews are the majority in our country. It is a tremendous responsibility to be a majority, and it is a great challenge, political and social, and especially human: to understand that the attitude towards the minority is one of the major tests of the majority in a democratic regime. … Equality is the starting point of citizenship, not its product. It is the land from which citizenship grows. It is also what allows the highest freedom—the freedom to be different. Different, and yet equal to everyone else…. Perhaps this law does us a great favor, and reveals to us all, from the left and the right, without illusions or self-deceit, where we are, the point to which Israel has deteriorated. Perhaps this law will finally shake all of us, from all sides of the political map, who fear for Israel; for its spirit, its humanity, its Jewish, democratic and human values. I have no doubt that there are so many, on the left, right and center, decent and sober people who know that this law is a disgraceful act and a betrayal of the state by its citizens.”

Netanyahu, as usual, presents this as a struggle between the left and the right. But it is a much deeper and fateful struggle, a struggle between those who have given up and those who still hope. Those who have succumbed to nationalist and racist bias, and those who continue to oppose it, who insist on preserving in their hearts a picture, an image, a hope of how things can be in a proper country.”

To subscribe to Cultural Detective Online and learn from over 70 intercultural skills development packages including CD Israel, or to license printed materials of this world-class, theoretically-grounded and immediately useful series for your classroom, training, or coaching, click here.

 

Cultural Detective at SIETAR Japan

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I am so very thrilled that the SIETAR Chapter I spent six years of my life co-birthing and stewarding has grown up and is hosting this SIETAR Global Conference! Due to family events I can not be there, which is heartbreaking. I know it will be fantastic and I soooooooo wish I could be there to guide my dear colleagues and friends around my beloved, adopted second home.

We will, however, have SEVERAL Cultural Detective authors present, and at least two of them have let me know they will be presenting workshops that involve Cultural Detective. Both these sessions sound fantastic and I trust you’ll be able to make them.

Enjoy! Learn! Network! And please know I’m present in spirit and heart.

coverIsrael


An Israeli Would Ask, “What’s the Problem Here?” Understanding the Very “Directest” Israeli Mindset

Workshop by CD Israel author Anat Kedem Meidan
Sat. August 11, 10:30 am – 12:20 pm
Going beyond stereotypes for deeper learning of the underlying core values and drivers that shape characteristic Israeli behaviors, norms and attitudes. Examining culture gaps between Israel and Japan to apply appropriate bridges across cultural differences.

 

Israelis have a distinct approach to life and interactions as well as unique ways of working. Norms and assumptions governing behavior – in particular regarding communication style, hierarchy and conflict – derive from deep-set values and an inherent ‘cultural sense’ that cannot be understood without looking at the historical and geographical context in which Israel operates. These norms are instrumental in creating Israel’s competitive edge, but they can also sabotage relationships and lead to frustration. Learning about the Israeli mindset is a necessity when interfacing with a culture where a key value is ‘maximum freedom, minimum restraint’, a culture where challenging everything all the time is encouraged and the preferred communication style is “dugri” – a “telling it like it is”, confrontational style.

Israeli and Japanese cultures share core values of focus on relationships and emphasis on hospitality. These similarities can be used to build trust between those needing to interact across the Japan/Israel interface. However, similarities can be misleading when overlooking cultural gaps. The result is that it often comes as a surprise that differences in approach to how things get done can lead to misunderstandings and end up sabotaging the group’s collaboration and capacity to reach set goals and objectives.

In this interactive workshop we will experience the Cultural Detective® — a critical incident-based tool for developing intercultural skills. In keeping with the conference theme of “Facing Uncertain Times Together: Strengthening Intercultural Connections,” the Cultural Detective takes its users from awareness to culturally appropriate bridging actions. In a detective-like manner, it provides a process for de-constructing and addressing challenges when encountering any intercultural dilemma, anywhere.

Using a Japanese/Israeli critical incident, participants will uncover underlying core values that shape behaviors, norms and attitudes. They will identify cultural gaps and apply a powerful bridging process for collaborating successfully across cultures.

Culturally Competent Training with Cognitive Integrity:
110 minute workshop with 8-time CD author George Simons
Creating and updating our intercultural learning tools to benefit from the latest developments in neuroscience and cognition

The approach taken toward cultural competence in this workshop relies on postmodern, linguistic, performative, iconic and constructionist thinking, drawing on recent research in neurologic and cognitive sciences. This means that fully interactive, holistic activities, performed in a safe space, and reflection on them will form the basis of our learning, rather than traditional positivistic and static essentialist thought definition presented in content lecture. In this workshop, we will actively explore a number of the first steps toward contemporary cultural know-how based on whole person engagement and reflection. We will conduct activities and exercises together in a variety of experiential holistic dimensions:

  1. Narrative and story-telling explorations of personal and cultural identities that will assist us to become aware of our own perspectives, feelings and inclinations, as well as those of others with whom we engage, as we respectfully elicit their stories and tell our own.
  2. Learning and practicing specific skills for recognizing and managing the frames in which we conceive of ourselves and others and how we operate out of and learning how we can modify these frames.
  3. With non-verbal and kinetic exercises, we will explore the physical spaces in which we live, move, encounter others and communicate, along with feeling their shifting contextual dynamics. Debrief will connect the workshop activities with everyday life in multicultural environments and explore ways in which we can continue to apply what is learned here to broaden our capacity for difference we experience with others.

 

Miracles Happen

IMG_1539I grew up in small town Wisconsin USA surrounded by Catholics of German ancestry. While I moved when I was eleven, I remember the town as having a wonderful community spirit—a volunteer ambulance way back before small US towns had such things. I remember a town that was lily white, the men barrel-chested; hard-working people who weren’t very emotionally expressive. The biggest cultural differences, and they were huge, were between town folk and farmers.

Today I have tears in my eyes as I have witnessed a most beautiful blessing. I heard there would be an outdoor Mass in my hometown, Burlington, in the park where I ice skated as a kid. I love outdoor spiritual celebrations. It’s a beautiful day, and I was excited to attend.

IMG_1537When I showed up at Echo Park there were several large tents set up and an altar ready in the pergola. Parking was at a premium. This was to be a tri-parish Mass: St. Mary’s and St. Charles from Burlinton, and St. Joseph’s from Lyons. There were three choirs and three priests.

 

As I walked into the celebration space, much to my surprise, the choir was singing a song in Spanish! I got out my cell phone to record a snippet. How very cool. I knew there is a Spanish language Mass each Sunday at St. Charles; I’ve attended it several times. Would this outdoor Mass be in Spanish? That would be cool and unexpected.

I love that my birthplace, founded by immigrants, once again has such a large immigrant community. When we are up here visiting family in the summer, I travel to nearby Burlington to buy jamaica (hibiscus) leaves for tea, Mexican cuts of meat for cooking, and a few other Latino savories. There seems to be a strong local Latino community. Last weekend we attended a very popular new Mole Fest in Elkhorn.

But when I attend Spanish-language Mass I see mainly Latinos there; the larger parish doesn’t seem very involved. There seems a definite segregation or separateness, though Mole Fest did have lots of every sort of people. I know that over one out of every five rural priests in small town USA are foreign-born, as there is a shortage of priests in the USA. Thankfully, many of them receive training using Cultural Detective materials.

 

The opening prayer celebrated diversity and unity. I beamed. The next song was in English. I noticed people around me, hundreds of them, and mostly the blonde-haired, blue-eyed variety that live in these parts, were reading along as they sung. I went over to grab the bulletin for today’s service. It was written in both English and Spanish! Not just one or the other, but an integrated, bilingual bulletin!

Really? In my small, what I perceive as insular town? I know and love these local Catholics. They send out mission trips every year to help the needy in the USA and abroad. They pray for peace and harmony, the cessation of war and violence, that the homeless, immigrants and refugees can find home. But, I also believe that some if not many of these parishioners have a hard time praying this latter petition. Many of them voted for Trump, after all.

 

This morning’s miracle got better and better. The second reading was in Spanish, by a native-speaking man. It felt so good. The response to the reading was in Spanish, and that response didn’t just come from the Spanish-speaking choir, but from voices here and there, scattered among the hundreds of people gathered in the shade of the tents. Wow! How cool!

The sermon was in English, given by the priest who was not the main celebrant. That was nice; they wanted to include the priests from all three parishes in the celebration. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear but, the Colombian priest giving a sermon, too! And he gave it in Spanish! He said the same things the first priest had said, but in Latino style, with much more passion. And of course with more references to the Virgin. I looked around. These German-Americans that I’d grown up with listened politely. I assume most of them didn’t understand. But I heard them join in the Latin-sounding “Ah-men,” vs. their normal “Ey-men.” Things have obviously been changing around here while I’ve been gone. And, then again, they haven’t. I heard the ladies behind me remark after the Colombian’s sermon, “He sure gave a short homily. Maybe we should check out his Mass.” 😉

 

The songs during Mass rotated between Spanish and English, with a few of them bilingual: one verse English, one Spanish. I was thrilled to hear that those around me singing along to the Spanish lyrics. The accent wasn’t pretty, but they were trying! This was, truly, an inclusive, integrated service.

Time for Prayers of the People. A gringa lady got up, and she read the prayers in both languages. She struggled with the Spanish, but she read it respectfully. We responded first in English, and to the Spanish ones in Spanish. I couldn’t imagine this Mass getting much better. Today encouraged me so much about my birth town’s people and community.

 

Communion was interesting. Most of the US Americans took the host in their hands, as is the custom here, while most of the Latinos received communion on their tongues, as is the custom for them. It was nice to see both.

 

At the conclusion of Mass, I thanked the celebrant, telling him I’d been born in Burlington and never would have dreamed that we’d be celebrating a bilingual Mass; that it was such a blessing. He thanked me for letting him know; I had the feeling he was happy to hear it, as perhaps he hears the opposite as well. I then thanked the Colombian priest. He gave me a big abrazo/hug, and thanked me also. Then a large portion of those attending, rather than hurry home as I’m so used to up here, wandered up to the picnic area to share coffee, orange juice, lemonade, and the always-present Wisconsin milk and kringle.

Viva diversity and integration on a clear sunny day in the Heartland of America! Today my stereotypes of my beloved birth town were updated, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Certification in Oregon

Portland-20917The summer has gotten off to a running start, that is for sure! If you’ve been wanting to get certified in Cultural Detective, to transform how you work in this world to develop intercultural competence in yourself and others, get online and register now! This approach looks at people as complex individuals with unique personalities, influenced by multiple layers of culture. Cultural Detective is practical, theoretically sound, developmentally appropriate, and immediately useful.

Tatyana Fertelmeyster will be conducting a two-day workshop between sessions at SIIC, the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication, on Thursday and Friday the 26th and 27th of July. Click here for more information, and click here to register. This is the only public certification on our calendar at this time.

Book Review: Why Travel Matters

51Xh7kpNNhLWhy Travel Matters: A guide to the life-changing effects of travel, by Craig Storti, published by Nicholas Brealey, 2018.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.
—St. Augustine

Are you looking for a terrific graduation gift? Just published last week, this quick, thought-provoking read will encourage any beloved young adult in your life to challenge themselves to develop new perspectives and values by experiencing the world around them fully.

Why Travel Mattersis an in-depth exploration of how to ensure travel experiences transcend tourism and transform the soul. “Through the ages it has been observed that travel broadens your horizons, deepens your understanding and changes your perspective. How? What must be done when traveling to make sure these things actually happen?”

Nothing is comparable to the new life that a reflective person
experiences when he observes a new country. Though I am still always
myself, I believe I have changed to the very marrow of my bones.
—Goethe

The book is written in typical Craig Storti style: engaging prose, good humor, content based on sound concepts and theory, well explained with lots of stories and examples. I read it on one leg of my flight last week and have already purchased several copies for the graduates on my gift list.

Not a typical travel book, Storti talks to the reader about the consequences of the trip rather than the trip itself, the inner as well as the outer journey, using quotations, insights, reflections and commentary from travelers, travel writers, historians and literary masters including Mark Twain, DH Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, St. Augustine and Somerset Maugham. He reviews the history of travel, including the importance of the grand tour beginning in 16th century Europe.

He goes on to explain the rise of modern tourism in the 1840s, thanks to Thomas Cook injecting the four elements of speed, comfort, convenience and tour groups, scrubbing travel of experiences that might disturb or discomfort—and, thus, removing its transformative powers. For me, with a passion for travel, who has hired a tour guide but has yet to take a group tour, who lacks the patience to lead a group of tourists, and who values a liberal arts education heavily grounded in study abroad and cross-cultural competence, the message this book promotes is music to my ears.

They had learnt life in a different school from mine
and had come to different conclusions.
—Somerset Maugham

Storti defines tourism as escape, recreational travel during which tourists are served by locals. Tourism is relaxing; tourists see the sights. Travel, on the other hand, is arriving at a destination. Travel is educational, travelers meet with locals and are stimulated to understand.

Travelers don’t know where they’re going
and tourists don’t know where they’ve been.
—Paul Theroux

Storti weaves in recent discoveries in neuroscience and recounts powerful passages from some of the world’s greatest travel narratives to support his thesis, including the story from Saint-Exupery’s Wind, Sand and Stars of the first time the Moors realized the Sahara was a desert and so very dry compared to other parts of the world—after they’d travelled and seen their first waterfall (p. 35). The reader thus learns that impressions formed abroad change how we see home once we return. He presents and reframes basic intercultural concepts in the context of travel: “You don’t see what is in front of you; you see your brain’s perception of it” (p. 24), sharing with us how JG Farrell saw blood spatters on the pavement during his journey through India, when in reality the red he was seeing was betel juice (Indian Diary), or Storti’s own inability to identify what his eyes were seeing when he first glimpsed icebergs from the air.

Each act of seeing informs and enhances all subsequent acts;
the more we have seen, the more we are subsequently able to see.
Why Travel Matters, p. 32

In Chapter 4 Storti provides a table of cultural dimensions, writing that travel helps “you realize most people behave logically most of the time. You may not approve of their logic… but once you realize there are reasons behind their behavior you begin to accept that it makes sense.” He does occasionally get over-zealous, in my opinion, continuing on to optimistically tell readers, “There will never be people you cannot understand.”

Knowledge of ourselves—what we at Cultural Detective call “subjective culture,” meaning knowledge of ourselves as unique individuals influenced by multiple layers of culture—gives us choice over who and how we are in this world.

One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things.
—Henry Miller

Storti concludes in Chapter 5 by providing a list of eleven best practices or tips on traveling for personal growth. These include:

  1. Travel alone.
  2. Stay out of touch/off the grid; you can’t have an experience and share it at the same time, attempts at the latter diminish the former.
  3. Collect sights not sites.
  4. Secure an introduction, a friend of a friend or colleague, to provide you a look inside the life of a local resident.
  5. Frequent places where you’ll find locals.
  6. Be a regular.
  7. Get inside someone’s home.
  8. Read about the country before and during your travel.
  9. Enjoy yourself.

Why Travel Matters includes three appendices: an interesting collection of rules for travel from other authors; a selection of quotes from people who are against travel, which feels a bit out of place or forced; and a wonderful list of the world’s great travel books—several of which I’m confident you’ll want to add to your reading list. Here’s to enjoying and benefitting from the journey!

There is all the difference in the world between behaving academically,
with the intellect, and behaving personally, intimately,
with the whole living self.
Proverbs are platitudes until you have experienced the truth of them.
—Aldous Huxley

 

Haziz and Our New Iranian Friends

I am in Dubai to present at a conference directed by the author of Cultural Detective Arab Gulf, Abdulhamied Alromaithy. His wife, Layla Al Bloushi, will moderate my panel. It’s my first time here, so I’m excited. Today was my tenth anniversary cancer-free, and we planned to celebrate by going to the top of the Burj Khalifa. It was beautiful.

In the morning, however, we walked around the old part of the city. Greg and I were fascinated by the organized chaos of the port. Boats were anchored three to six deep. How in the world did they get out once they were loaded? Packages were stacked everywhere! How did they keep track of what was where? Aren’t there waves in the Gulf? Wasn’t the loading precarious? Here the longshoreman show up in pickup trucks, SUVs and small trucks, to hand-load packages of textiles, boxes of spices, and many, many appliances to be shipped around the Gulf. We even saw electrical transformers.

 

The boats themselves were absolutely gorgeous, wooden structures brightly painted with filigree and other details. They looked very old. And the men who were working them were so very welcoming, cheerful, hardworking and happy.

 

The highlight of our day serendipitously became the invitation we received to board and tour an Iranian shipping vessel at the port in Dubai Creek. Our visit was accompanied by tea, lunch, shisha, and some great non-verbal communication that bridged my non-existent Farsi with our hosts’ non-existent English. Thankfully a spice trader helped us out with some translation.

To board the boat we had to climb up a very rickety ladder, then crawl over the side and jump down quite steeply. Our hosts very politely watched out for our safety and were extremely hospitable. They got a kick out of our adventurousness and curiosity.

 

We learned that it takes 15 hours to sail from Dubai to Iran, and that they visit five ports there. Our hosts assured us that even with our USA passports we would be safe and happy. As I have work today, going with them wasn’t really an option to consider.

They showed us the captain’s bridge, the sleeping quarters, below deck where there’s a kitchen and stowage, the roof where there’s more stowage. We were told they bring gold from India to Dubai, textiles from Dubai to Iran, and spices from Iran to Dubai. All of them had been doing this their whole lives. There were also loads of household appliances bound for Iran: washers, freezers, and loads of things made in China.

I asked how they got in and out of the port amidst so many ships. “No problem,” was the answer, as Haziz pointed to a small opening between boats, through which none of the boats would fit. Leaving port obviously takes a lot of cooperation between vessels. I asked how they knew where everything was, to load an unload. “We know.” I guess a lifetime teaches you the order in that apparent chaos.

 

Many thanks to David Benson of www.goexploreae.com, who told us we could go up to the multi-level parking structure across from the port to get a bird’s-eye view of that organized chaos going on in the creek. Thank goodness we did! What a view of both the boats in the waterway and out the other direction!

 

It was a wonderfully full day of cross-cultural interaction. We spent time with Filipinos, Malays, Indians. Not many Emiratis yet, but there is always tomorrow.

Participate in Online Auction to Benefit Mayo-Yoreme

Please participate in this very affordable online auction to gain a photo for your home or office, plus support people who will very much appreciate your assistance! Below from SIETAR France. You are also invited to my photo talk and exhibit in both Paris and Vienna. I look forward to seeing you there and to having you enjoy a taste of indigenous Sinaloa!

VENTE AUX ENCHERES DE PHOTOGRAPHIES !
SILENT AUCTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS!

Nous espérons que vous allez bien. Nous sommes ravis de pouvoir vous annoncer notre toute première vente aux enchères qui commencera le 1er novembre à 9h00 et se terminera le 19 novembre à minuit.

Nous avons 10 photographies originales qui nous ont été gracieusement fournies par Dianne Hofner Saphiere et qui sont le résultat de son travail avec la communauté des Mayo-Yoreme au Sinola, Mexique.

We hope you are well. We are very pleased to be able to announce our very first SIETAR France Silent Auction which will begin on November 1st at 9h00 and end on November 19th at midnight.

We have 10 original photographs to be auctioned which have all been graciously donated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere and which have come out of her work with the Mayo-Yoreme community of Sinaloa, Mexico.


Comment participer à notre vente aux enchères — 10 photographies  originales données par Dianne Hofner Saphiere

How to participate in Our Silent Auction —10 Original photographs
donated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Pour participer à cette vente aux enchères, il vous suffit de vous enregistrer sur notre site web dédié au :
http://www.biddingOwl.com/SIETARFrance

Une fois votre profil créé, vous aurez la possibilité de miser sur les différentes photographies et configurer votre profil pour recevoir des alertes par mail ou par SMS si quelqu’un surenchère.

Les gagnants seront automatiquement avertis à la fin de la vente et recevront leur version électronique de la photographie par mail.

Les recettes de la vente seront partagées à égalité entre SIETAR France et la communauté des Mayo-Yoreme.

To participate in our silent auction you will need to register on our dedicated website at:
http://www.biddingOwl.com/SIETARFrance

Once you have created your profile, you will be able to bid for the different photographs and configure your profile to receive alerts by mail or SMS if you are out bid.

The winners of the auction will be automatically contacted and will receive their electronic version of the photograph by email.

The proceeds of the auction will be shared equally by SIETAR France and the Mayo-Yoreme community.

Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Photographe et consultante en développement interculturel des organisations, elle est l’auteur de plusieurs ouvrages dont “Communication Highwire: Leveraging the power of diverse communication styles” et de “Ecotonos : A simulation for collaborating across cultures”. Elle est la créatrice de Cultural Detective®, un projet de développement des compétences interculturelles impliquant plus de 150 experts interculturels partout dans le monde.

Au cours de ses trente années de carrière dédiés à la coopération interculturelle, Dianne a collaboré avec des personnes de plus de 100 pays différents. Née aux Etats-Unis, elle a vécu 12 ans au Japon et vit au Mexique depuis 10 ans.

Au cours de ces quatre dernières années, elle a développé sa passion pour la photographie, se spécialisant dans le photojournalisme – privilégiant l’approche ethnographique, les événements au sein des communautés et les “trésors culturels de l’humanité”.

Photographer and intercultural organization development consultant

Dianne has worked with people from over 100 countries during her 30+ years facilitating cross-cultural collaboration. USA-born, she spent twelve years in Japan and has lived in Mexico for the last ten years.

Dianne has authored various volumes including “Communication Highwire: Leveraging the power of diverse communication styles” and “Ecotonos: A simulation for collaborating across cultures”, and is the creator of Cultural Detective®, an intercultural competence development project involving over 150 intercultural specialists worldwide. 

She has dedicated the past four years to her passion for photography, specializing in photojournalism — often through the lenses of ethnography, community events, and “human cultural treasures.”

We Want to Get Rid of You!

“The Power of Storytelling in Intercultural Communication”
Many thanks to Joanna Sell, a certified Cultural Detective facilitator, for this terrific guest blog post. Be sure to check out her new intercultural storytelling blog at http://www.interculturalcompass.com/blog/.

DOD

It was early autumn when Martin, a German project leader, relocated to Mexico. At the beginning of his assignment he was very excited about the new challenge and curious about the host culture. His only concern was the fact that he was an introvert.

Every day before going to his company he threw a coin and “played heads or tails”. When he saw heads he would talk to the very first employee he encountered on his way. While seeing tails he would breath a sigh of relief that he did not have to “jump over his shadow” to practice small talk. Nobody knew about his habit and his team members were quite puzzled by his behavior, seeing that he did not talk to them as often as had their former leaders.

Pretty soon even those who had been very talkative at the beginning of Martin’s assignment limited their exchanges with him to the minimum. His assignment became challenging and Martin could not help feeling excluded, not only in the professional context but also in private life. Actually, he almost had no private life at all. Spending extra hours at work in the evening and during weekends resulted in isolation amidst a crowd of smiling faces in Mexico.

One late October morning, shortly after arriving at the office, Martin noticed a colorful skull made of sugar on top of his desk. He closed the door and slowly sat down. He remained frozen for half an hour or longer. He noticed that his colleagues barely spoke to him. Seeing the skull, he got terrified that they most probably wanted to get rid of him.

What happened next?

When Katrin Sihling—a dear colleague of mine from the Munich area who was raised by her Mexican mom and her German dad in South Germany—finished the story and asked that question, everyone in our group at Jena University smiled. Someone hurried with a possible explanation: “People in Mexico celebrate November 1st with parties to commemorate their ancestors and give one another sweet skulls to highlight the festive character of this feast”.

Listening to that explanation I sketched the following concluding scene in my head: Luckily, Elena, one of Martin’s team members, originally from Switzerland, entered his office and got concerned when she saw Martin’s pale face and absent gaze. When he indicated towards the skull without saying a word, she immediately noticed the cultural misunderstanding. It was she who had put the colorful sugar skull on his desk, as she did every year for all the people in their department. She explained the symbolic meaning of the sweet skull and asked Martin whether he wished to join the Mexican part of her family in celebrating El Dia de los Muertos.

That day both of them learned something new: not to take the world of obviousness (their world of obviousness) for granted, but to ask for new meanings instead.

The power of the storytelling approach in the intercultural context lies exactly in this attitude. Exchanging stories across cultures enhances curiosity and redirects attention from a focus on general, simplified assumptions and towards sense making and re-narrating the world of obviousness; that’s why the Cultural Detective Method is built around stories! Every critical incident in our series is a true story, sometimes a combination, involving real people in real situations.

“Culture is a set of stories that we enter” (Jerome Brunner) and exchanging facts and data about cultures without exchanging stories is a dead-end street.

“It is the stories we share with each other that help us to overcome cultural conflicts, cope with transition stress, and shape how we perceive the past and see the future. Thanks to an exchange of stories we become able to rethink our assumptions and change our behavior. Changing behaviors definitely requires mindfulness in order to recognize which behaviors are inappropriate and which are desirable in different cultural contexts.

To sum up why we need storytelling in the intercultural context, I would like to offer a short list (instead of a story) that includes the following issues:

  • Storytelling suppports zooming in and out effects and, therefore, enables perspective change.
  • Storytelling allows the discovery of cultural roots from multiple perspectives.
  • Storytelling offers insights into the complexity of multicultural identities.
  • Storytelling can be an eye-opener in new cultural surroundings.
  • Storytelling adds the emotional layer to the cognitive level.
  • Storytelling serves as a means of transmitting cultures.
  • Storytelling deals with new stories of belonging.
  • Storytelling initiates change processes.
  • Storytelling serves as sensemaking.
  • Storytelling moves hearts.

Sell, J. (2017): Storytelling for Intercultural Understanding and Intercultural Sensitivity Development in: Chlopczyk, J. (ed.) Beyond Storytelling. Springer Gabler, pp.234-235.

Made you curious? Please find more about the storytelling approach in the intercultural context with a focus on choice biographies and identities in flux, coping with the danger of a single story, new stories of belonging and a hands on compilation of storytelling methods that can be applied in intercultural programs in two of my chapters published in following books:

Sell, J. (2017): Storytelling for Intercultural Understanding and Intercultural Sensitivity Development in: Chlopczyk, J. (ed.) Beyond Storytelling. Springer Gabler.

Sell, J. (2017): Segel hoch und auf zu neuen Ufern – Eine Reise durch die Welt der Storytelling-Methoden im unterkulturellen Kontext in: Schach, A. (ed.) Storytelling. Geschichten in Text, Bild und Film, Springer Gabler.

Of Friends and Transitions

Living overseas seems to bring with it a mobile and transitory lifestyle of a caliber foreign to those who steward the home traditions. We become accustomed to a series of pronounced and frequent life transitions. In Tokyo foreign friends would transfer to assignments in other exotic locations every three to five years. It makes it nice for traveling, a privilege to be able to stay with friends around the world, but their departures leave huge holes in our lives. In Mazatlán there seems to be a frequent seven to ten year cycle to expat life, with beloved friends moving to the interior of the country or back home, closer to grandkids, so they can be an integral part of those children’s lives.

Transitions are a normal part of life; I know this. Life is comprised of cycles; I know and believe this from the depths of my heart. Yet dealing constructively with transitions is the reason I made a career as an interculturalist oh so many decades ago. I am not good at them. They hurt. Things change. They can even change for the better, open new doors and windows for which we’ll forever be grateful. But, they involve change nonetheless. Someone “moves our cheese.”

Read full article: Of Friends and Transitions

Le « Bridging » 

I hope you’ll join Catherine Roignan and myself in the heart of Paris on 18 November for this terrific one-day, bilingual workshop! English follows the French.

Atelier le samedi 18 novembre 2017 de 9h30 à 17h30
Hotel Normandy, 7 rue de l’Echelle – 75001 Paris
Animé par Dianne Hofner Saphiere et Catherine Roignan
Organisé par SIETAR France

Le « Bridging » : méthodes et techniques pour faciliter la coopération
au-delà des différences culturelles

Savoir « créer des ponts » entre personnes ou groupes culturellement différents, les mettre en situation et en capacité de communiquer et coopérer de façon efficace : c’est à la fois une nécessité et un but pour de nombreux chefs d’équipe, que ce soit en entreprise, dans les administrations ou les ONG.

Le « bridging » est aussi l’objectif ultime du travail interculturel : si on apprend à remettre sa propre culture en perspective et à se familiariser avec la culture de l’autre, c’est précisément pour parvenir à construire ce pont sur lequel se rencontrer.

Mais comment s’y prend-on concrètement? Comment les managers et les professionnels de la formation et du conseil peuvent-ils favoriser la synergie des efforts et des équipes internationales?

Le Cultural Detective® « Bridging Cultures » capitalise sur l’expertise existant désormais dans ce domaine : compétences, activités, grilles d’analyse, bonnes pratiques pour faire évoluer les esprits et les pratiques, issues d’expériences dans différentes organisations dans le monde.

Dans cet atelier dynamique et participatif, vous apprendrez comment :

  • Renforcer votre capacité personnelle à « faire le pont » avec des personnes différentes de vous
  • Prévenir et surmonter les blocages dans la communication
  • Adapter votre stratégie de « bridging » à des contextes particuliers
  • Identifier des mesures concrètes permettant de faciliter la coopération entre groupes culturellement divers.

Vous serez amenés à expérimenter vous-mêmes plusieurs exercices du Cultural Detective® « Faire le pont entre les cultures », de manière à pouvoir ensuite les transposer dans vos groupes et organisations.

L’atelier sera bilingue, en français et en anglais.

Programme de la journée :

9h30      Qu’est-ce que le « bridging » ? Présentation de la problématique
10h30    Compétence 1 : Identifier son attitude personnelle face au « bridging »
11h30    Pause café
11h40    Compétence 2 : Prévenir et surmonter des blocages de communication
13h         Déjeuner libre
14h15     Compétence 3 : Analyser les contextes d’intervention
16h         Pause café
16h15     Compétence 4 : Identifier des mesures concrètes et adaptées pour créer des
ponts
17h15     Conclusion, retours des participants et pistes pour action.

Registration: http://sietarfrancecongres.com/events/le-bridging-un-atelier-propose-par-dianne-hofner-saphiere-et-catherine-roignan/

Bridging Cultural Differences: Methods and Techniques to Create Cooperation that Leverage Differences

18th November 2017 from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
Hotel Normandy, 7 rue de l’Echelle – 75001 Paris
Facilitated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere and Catherine Roignan
Organized by SIETAR France

To build a bridge between culturally diverse persons or groups and develop the environment and ability to communicate and cooperate efficiently: that’s both a necessity and a goal of many team leaders in organizations worldwide.

Bridging is also the ultimate goal of any intercultural work: learning to put our own culture in perspective and learn about the other’s cultures is part of the process.

But how to do this concretely? And how can managers and training and consultancy professionals best support the synergy of efforts and teams, so that differences become assets ?

Cultural Detective Bridging Cultures capitalizes on the now-existing expertise of intercultural bridging practices in different organisations around the world. It identifies key competencies, offers activities, grids for analysis and best practices to help mindsets and habits evolve and to create cooperation.

In this dynamic and interactive Cultural Detective®Bridging Cultures workshop you will learn how to:

  • Reinforce your personal ability to communicate and bridge with different people.
  • Prevent and overcome blocking situations.
  • Adapt your bridging strategy to specific contexts.
  • Explore different techniques to foster cooperation between culturally different groups.

This workshop will leverage select exercises from Cultural Detective® Bridging Cultures so that you can replicate them in your work, communities and organizations. You will leave the workshop with practices you can implement immediately as well as extensive handouts.

The workshop will be facilitated bilingually in French and English.

Program of the day :

9.30 am                               What is « bridging » ? Definition and issues at stake
10.30                                    Key Competency 1 : Self-awareness and bridging mindset
11.30                                    Coffee Break
11.40                                    Key Competency 2 : Overcoming blocking situations in
communication
1 pm                                     Open Lunch
2.15 pm                                Key Competency 3 : Contextual analysis
4 pm                                     Coffee Break
4.15                                       Key Competency 4 : Generating bridges
5.15 – 5.30                           Conclusion, feedback and tips for action

Registration: http://sietarfrancecongres.com/events/le-bridging-un-atelier-propose-par-dianne-hofner-saphiere-et-catherine-roignan/