Focus on Responsible Tourism

We greet hundreds of thousands of national and international visitors each year on the west coast of México where I live. For years I have promoted cultural and religious tourism to the State Secretary of Tourism, trying to encourage travelers to get beyond the beer and beaches to experience a bit of the “real Mexico.”

Recently, a colleague in Milan, Maura di Mauro, told me about a special film track she coordinated in May at the SIETAR Europa Congress in Dublin entitled, Focus on Responsible Tourism. She cautioned me about how the culture of Mursi villagers in Ethiopia was changing due to tourism. Thanks to an influx of camera-toting tourists willing to pay for photos, the villagers increasingly exaggerate their traditional practices and even falsely embellish them, to make them more attractive to visitors. She also told me about Chinese tourists descending en masse on a small village in The Netherlands. Many of the Dutch residents welcome the added economic boost such international tourism provides, but there are also downsides to such tourism and, again, changes to the host culture.

Maura got me excited and I can not WAIT to view these two films!

The first documentary Maura told me about is called Framing the Other” by Ilja Kok and Willem Timmers  (25 min, English and Mursi with English subtitles, €445 for the film in an educational package with guide and readings on tourism’s impact).The Mursi tribe lives in the basin of the Omo River in the south of the east African state of Ethiopia. The women are known for placing large plates in their lower lips and wearing enormous, richly decorated earrings. Every year hundreds of Western tourists come to see the unusually adorned natives; posing for camera-toting visitors has become the main source of income for the Mursi. To make more money, they embellish their “costumes” and finery in such a manner that less of their original authentic culture remains. The film contrasts the views of Mursi women and those of Dutch tourists preparing for a meeting. This humorous and at the same time chilling film shows the destructive impact tourism has on traditional communities. The film screening was followed by a Q&A with producer Ilja Kok. A preview follows:

The second film is called Ni Hao Holland: The Chinese are coming” by Willem Timmers (25 min, Mandarin and Dutch with English subtitles, €395 for the film in an educational package with slides and readings on understanding Chinese tourists). This is a documentary about Chinese tourists and their quest for the authentic Dutch experience. Cherry, the main character, has long dreamed of swapping her home city Beijing for the Dutch village Giethoorn. She has heard and read a lot about this mythical place. The day arrives that she and her friend hop on the plane in search of adventure. In the meantime, entrepreneurs from Giethoorn work hard behind the scenes to cater to this “Holland experience.” They want to make the most of the fast-growing flow of Chinese tourists to their village. How is this authenticity created by some and experienced by others? Below is a preview:

Maura also curated a third film for the festival at SIETAR Europa:Holi-days” by Randi Malkin Steinberger (50 min). If you’re interested in tourism and its impact on culture, it looks very worthwhile.
Why do we visit pilgrim’s places, art capitols and tourist’s paradises en masse? Traveling from Jerusalem via Florence to Las Vegas, Steinberger takes the answers to these questions to an increasingly general plane. In Jerusalem (welcoming three million visitors a year) we see tourists visiting the holy places, buying souvenirs, and putting themselves through torments that Jesus Christ once endured. What they are looking for is elucidated in short statements by pilgrims, tour operators, church leaders, guides, scientists, and souvenir vendors. All these opinions put forward a few basic ideas: tourism and commerce overgrow religion, and sacred places and objects give people the feeling that they are part of some higher order. We could look at Florence in the same way, where annually six million tourists drink in the best of Renaissance Art. The street interviews allow the same conclusion as in Jerusalem: people feel dumbfounded and overwhelmed. The countless tourists and the massive trade in souvenirs “have turned the city into a congealed moment in time.” The climax of this film journey is reached in Las Vegas. In this city, 36 million people a year enjoy replicas of famous cities and monuments, cinematic reconstructions of historical moments, spectacular shows, and dazzling gambling palaces. Here, the reality, which people also look for in Jerusalem and Florence, is better and more typical (and even more soulless) than in reality.

Terrific Summertime Intercultural Movie: McFarland USA

MV5BMjMwNjY2Mjk5OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODM2NTA0MzE@._V1_SX214_AL_Preparing to waste some time watching an in-flight movie as I flew to Europe from Mexico, I perked up considerably as soon as Los Tigres del Norte’s America came on. This film, McFarland USA, was not going to be a standard high school sports movie after all!

Todos son Americanos, sin importar el color
De América, yo soy, de América, yo soy

We are all Americans, no matter our color
I’m from America, I’m from America

The plot line:
Track coach Kevin Costner’s (Mr. White) temper has resulted in him and his family bouncing from one high school to another in a downward spiral of disenfranchisement from family and friends, as well as loss of self esteem and family cohesion. As the movie opens, Mr. White is forced to leave a (very white) school in Idaho for a very rural school in another part of the USA. His daughter’s first words as they pull into their new home? “Dad, are we in Mexico?” It turns out they’ve moved to the agricultural Central Valley of California. Living as a US expat in Mexico, their cultural confusion delighted my soul.

The initial culture shock:
Arriving tired and hungry, the White family heads to a restaurant in search of a burger. “We have tacos, tortas, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas…” recites the waitress. After several repetitions of the phrase, the family orders the only thing they apparently understand, tacos. They imagine their confusion has ended, but oh no… “Do you want asada, al pastor, chorizo, cabeza, lengua…?” While they are dumbfounded by the options, my family would be in heaven!

Low riders cruise the streets and Dad is scared he won’t be able to protect his family—bias incarnate. A rooster wakes them up at dawn, in stereotypical fashion, and a neighbor lady gives them one as a welcome gift. Dad finds a simpatico cultural informant in the local grocery store owner. They go from hating the Virgen de Guadalupe colorfully painted on their living room wall, to loving it.

Cultural adaptation:
Within a week of his arrival to their new home, Dad is fired from his position coaching football. His students’ reaction to the news? “Congratulations, Mr. White. They are treating you like a picker.”

A teacher now without a head coach position, Costner notices that many of the local kids run far distances as part of their daily lives—there isn’t any transportation other than one’s own two feet. He also realizes that the kids wake up early in the morning to help their parents pick crops, before they begin their second day later in the morning at school. The kids’ abilities impress the heck out of him; he is blown away that they have the stamina for both work and study, and disappointed when his students’ parents don’t support their kids’ after-school activities (they need the kids’ help in the fields).

Mr. White gets to know a couple of the local kids, and enlists their help to put together a cross-country running team. Part of his learning journey includes a day with the kids out picking in the fields where, as expected, Mr. White fails miserably.

The movie does an excellent job capturing Mexican values such as family, respect for elders, hard work, dealing with adversity, and joy in life. We watch with delight as Mr. White and his family learn invaluable life skills from their new neighbors and friends, and experience, for the first time in their lives, some of the joys of community and tradition.

The movie as a learning resource
McFarland USA is a predictable movie, rather stereotypical, but refreshing and timely. I found it a very worthwhile way to spend a couple of hours on an international flight, and would recommend it to you for summer viewing. I can definitely see using clips from this film in coaching, educational or training environments. Please let me know what you think.

Do you have a favorite cross-cultural movie, book or resource? Share with us your review!

Movie Review: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobra, “You Only Live Once”

MV5BMzQzMTA4ODY4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjgyMDQxNw@@._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_AL_A guest post by global nomad and terrific Cultural Detective community member Anita Thomas. Originally from Hungary, Anita has lived in India and Ireland, and currently resides in the UK. She enjoys meeting new people and understanding how they think about life.

Many thanks to Anita for this film review!

You Only Live Once, a 2011 Zoya Akhtar film, is one of my all-time favourites, which I have seen at least ten times. It is a well-crafted movie that never get bores me. It shows some aspects of Indian culture—marriage, friendship—and at the same time gives a true insight into Spanish culture. I highly recommend it to Cultural Detectives!

Three friends—Arjun, Kabir and Imraan—set off to Spain to enjoy the trip of their lifetimes. Each of them suggests an adventure, which he shares with his friends the night before. They aim to get over their fears. Viewers enjoy beautiful scenery through the magnificent camera shots, and feel themselves totally in the shoes of the three friends.

This is a Bollywood movie from India, hence there are lots of songs in it. Most of the songs are in Hindi, but there is one in Spanish, too! Tired of sitting on the sofa? Stand up and dance!

Plenty. Love is happening with all three of the friends. If there is love, there must be jealousy, too! One of the friends has a never-seen dad living in Spain; he is afraid to see him. Another friend manages to overcome his workaholism. There is a strong bond of friendship among the three men throughout. The emotions are supported by the great music and the poems written by one of the friends.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobra brings joy to the eyes, ears, heart and mind. And to the tummy as well: there are many jokes and funny scenes to balance out all those emotions flowing in this two and a half hour movie. See the trailer here:

And my favourite songs from the movie:


3 Fundamental Skills for Intercultural (and Life) Effectiveness


A, B, C of intercultural effectiveness, and a film recommendation

For well over twenty years I travelled 25 days out of every month. I loved it. Always a new place, thriving off the energy of the people I had the pleasure of working with, each week or two entering a new industry and learning how things work. The fundamentals of human interaction that I dealt with did not vary significantly by industry; the content, however, did.

When my son was small, he and the nanny travelled with me. As he got older, he accompanied me. He sat through my training workshops, he accompanied me on some consulting gigs, and he enjoyed babysitters, daycare and children’s learning clubs around the world. Ten years ago, when my son was about eight, I began scaling back my travels. The impetus for scaling back was that my son was now old enough that it became challenging to take him out of school; he would miss too much. And, there was no way I was going to miss his childhood! An additional reality was that the constant travel was ruining my health, I always felt tired, and, I was honestly just ready for a change.

So, I stopped the 25 days/month travel schedule. It was difficult to say “no” to interesting and high-paying work, but I’d set my priority. I started staying home. I started a small publishing project (Cultural Detective). I absolutely loved it. I was now able to take time to cook regularly, a passion I love. I was able to exercise daily, and meet new people locally via exercise classes and groups. I was able to go out for coffee with girlfriends, and to be present for friends’ major life events—so many things I’d missed when I travelled a lot. Of course, I also missed the travel, and seeing my far away friends.

Now, when I occasionally travel (every couple of months), I find myself grateful for the experience rather than resentful. The journey is enjoyable again. Thus, on a recent flight to Vienna, I relished having two seats to myself. I was grateful for the free-flowing, high-quality red wine on Tirolian/Austrian Air. I read the in-flight magazines on two different airlines and got several blog post ideas. And I very much enjoyed watching a Blended Culture movie entitled, Chef.

The film is an enjoyable reminder of some fundamental intercultural competencies and life truths…

Chef is a 2014 movie starring Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Downey, Jr., about a chef whose family and career have both become frustratingly dull. He’s caught up in the busy-ness that can be modern life, and failing to pick up on the cues that his relationships and creativity require a major shift. He reminded me a bit of myself, actually. Have you ever found yourself in a rut? Going through the motions, not paying enough attention to what really matters, focusing primarily on accomplishing all the tasks on your plate?

In true Hollywood style, by the end of the movie the chef figures it all out, and happiness reigns as the credits roll. Along the way, the film is an enjoyable reminder of some fundamental intercultural competencies and life truths.
  1. Attentiveness: Stay alert to what’s around you (family, friends, work environment), as well as to what’s inside you (your passions, talents and desires). Prioritize your activities so that you feed what’s important to you and minimize that which diminishes you. Staying externally attentive will help ensure that you adapt appropriately in cross-cultural situations, while internal attentiveness will help ensure that you do not lose yourself, your ethics and your talents, in the process.
  2. Bravery: Don’t be afraid to take risks. There are many euphemisms for failing to do what we know we need to do: “going through the motions,” “paying the bills,” “not rocking the boat,” “keeping one’s head low.” Staying true to oneself and what you know to be “right” often requires bravery and trust. I’ve seen many times that foreigners or outsiders can effect positive and needed change to a system when old-timers can not. I’ve worked with many people who try so hard to “fit in” to cross-cultural situations that they lose who they are, their authenticity. Be brave enough to adapt, and be brave enough to be yourself.
  3. Creativity: If you’re not feeling energized, if you fail to see connections between the different areas of your daily life, if you’re not frequently generating ideas, experimenting with innovative projects, or exploring new territory, take note. You are probably pushing and trying to do too much too quickly. Slow down, step off the rat race, refresh, restore and recuperate. You are far too precious, and your insights and talents are too needed, in this world of ours. How can any of us bridge cultures if we don’t have access to our innate creativity? And, let’s remember: it takes all of us to be creative if we are to form a truly inclusive society or organization.

Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at

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.

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.

Film Review: Emperor

MV5BMjI4OTcwMTY3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTI1MzcxOQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_Our family watched a movie the other night that we all thoroughly enjoyed, and it as such an excellent cross-cultural film!

Emperor tells the supposedly true story of the USA’s decisions about whether or not to try (and hang) Emperor Hirohito after Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. Since I have always referenced the post-war reconstruction of Japan as “best practice” in ending a war, restoring a nation, and building an alliance (a lay person’s opinion, as politics and the military are in no way my specialties), I found this film particularly enlightening. It is a joint US-Japan production.

Emperor was released in the USA in 2012 and in Japan in 2013, but somehow just made it to my attention here in Mexico. Thank goodness it did! It stars Matthew Fox as Brigadier General Bonner Fellers, a Japan expert, and Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers), along with a host of Japanese actors.

The film captures the emotional torment
of a person attempting to bridge two cultures:
how could he be truthful, gain and maintain credibility with
both Japanese and US Americans, remain true to himself,
and yet do the right thing?

Though there are quite a few Hollywood clichés, I absolutely loved the insight into Japanese culture that Fellers demonstrates in the movie—it’s a great example of practical application of culture-specific knowledge. The film captures very well the emotional torment of a person attempting to bridge two cultures, particularly in such a sensitive situation: how could he be truthful, gain and maintain credibility with both Japanese and US Americans, remain true to himself, and yet do the right thing? The movie shows some  of the post-war devastation of Japan, the dignity of its people, and the wisdom that, fortunately, prevailed.

I believe there is much to learn here, and I hope our US military will use this film as required viewing as part of its officer training. I so often talk about the need for expats to “manage up” rather than just “manage down,” and Emperor is a terrific case study of how one general did just that.

The movie also includes a bit of love story, as Fellers tries to rekindle his relationship with Aya, a foreign exchange student he originally met at Earlham College in Indiana. Emperor is based on Shiro Okamoto’s book, His Majesty’s Salvation.

It is interesting that the movie never points out that Fellers was a Quaker, something about his background that I imagine was key to his decision making and his style, or that he was the official liaison with the Imperial Household. It is also encouraging that even with so little knowledge of the culture, he was able to do so much good. That is assuming, of course, that the movie is in any way accurate.


My one complaint about the movie is that the closing credits note that Fellers was “demoted” from being a general. This, to me, is a classic misuse of a true statement. The filmmakers should either have added an explanation or omitted this statement entirely. Sharing it in its brevity misleads and implies negativity.

The fact is that after World War II the military reduced the ranks, cutting the titles of 212 generals, because it was no longer wartime and the military no longer had a need for so many generals. Fellers reverted to colonel, but retired with the brigadier general title.


Film Review: The Lunchbox (India)

MV5BMjM2ODkxMzA5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTYwOTYxMDE@._V1_SY317_CR175,0,214,317_Another terrific movie for us to watch, thanks to the generosity of the very talented Sunita Nichani, President of SIETAR India.

The Lunchbox by Ritesh Batra, screened during International Critic’s week at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

A film set in Mumbai, around the service of the iconic dabbawallahs who ferry thousands of lunchboxes to office-goers in the crowded city without the slightest glitch. The film, however, revolves around one such lunchbox delivered to the wrong person, leading to an epistolary romance between the unintended recipient and the lonely housewife who prepares the gastronomic treats hoping to win her indifferent husband’s heart through his stomach.

What personally facinating me was the contrast between the almost antiquated means of communication showcased in the movie — a basket hanging on a rope to exchange tidbits with the upstairs neighbor, paper notes in the lunchbox instead of the ubiquitous text messages of today—and the modernity of the characters who each broke their cultural shackles to choose freedom and second chances.

Unlike typical Bollywood cinema, the film ends on an ambiguous note, letting the viewer connect the dots as s/he wishes. A wonderful visual resource for exploring some of the facets of contemporary evolving Indian society.

Comment from Dianne: If you are unfamiliar with the dabbawallah system, you owe it to yourself to learn! Please click on this link for a quick intro.

TCK (Third Culture Kid) Stories On Film


Paths to BCThird culture kids, or “TCKs.” One type of Blended Culture, TCK refers to those of us who have grown up in multiple locations and enlarged our definitions of “home.” We have multiple homes, all near and dear to us. We have multiple cultures, some of which we may be more fluent in than others, and all of which hold deep meaning for us. And, we have created “third cultures,” “blended cultures,” a global, multicultural or cosmopolitan definition of self and family.

The Blended Culture experience is increasingly common. As an expatriate myself, my son is a TCK with multiple national culture affiliations; it’s crucial for me to understand a bit of his experience if I am to parent him appropriately. I pray he grows up to reconcile his identity in constructive, multicultural ways. For those of us who work in international business, schools, study abroad, and with immigrants, it is also extremely helpful to understand at least a bit about the TCK experience. Three recent films may help us do just that.

The first film is called So Where’s Home? A Film About Third Culture Kid Identity, and is by Adrian Bautista. You can view the nine-minute film in its entirety below.

A second film is the award-winning “The Road Home,” directed by Rahul Gandotra. This 24-minute short can be rented or purchased, and the director is currently making a feature length movie about the same characters. You can view a two-minute clip of the film below.

TCKs have unique skill sets and unique challenges. The powerful trailer below (almost nine minutes) shows us what Aga Alegria has in mind as she sets about fundraising to make her documentary film about the TCK experience. Click here to learn more about that effort, or perhaps help her out.

We wish all these ventures very well with this important and timely topic! Learn more about a tool to help make the most of the TCK experience.

Film Review: Machuca

Machuca movie posterHow about watching a terrific film from Chile? Our local rental place had a closeout a few weeks ago, and one of the DVDs we happened upon was Machuca, a 2004 film by Andrés Wood. What a terrific find!

I am often asked about status and class in Latin America by those who come from more egalitarian societies. Navigating class differences has been one of our greatest challenges living in México; neither life in the US, Spain, nor Japan equipped us for the expected and often desired separateness here. While a period piece, Machuca viscerally illustrates the class differences and tensions of the era, and I would recommend it as a worthwhile resource.

Machuca takes place in Chile during the final years of Salvador Allende’s government — the first Marxist ever to be elected head of a democracy — and ends about the time of General Augusto Pinochet’s military coup d’état. Taking place during this period of heightened civil unrest, this is fundamentally a story about the friendship of two boys: Gonzalo and Pedro, who come from opposite sides of the river and opposite ends of society. Thus, we get a micro and a macro-level taste of class tension.

Gonzalo is a “junior,” the son of a wealthy family who attends St. Patrick’s, an elite Catholic boys’ school. He is frequently forced to accompany his mother during her afternoon trysts. Pedro (Machuca) lives in a shanty town, and is the son of the woman who cleans house for Gonzalo’s family. Pedro is one of a group of “scholarship students” that the head priest has invited to St. Patrick’s in an attempt to create a bit of equity in society.

The movie shows how difficult it is for these new students to integrate, and there is a memorable bullying scene in which Gonzalo defends Pedro. We gain insight into the home lives of both boys, proving of course that richer or poorer, life is not all roses.

The backdrop to the main story is, of course, a Chile in turmoil. Gonzalo’s own parents seem to come down on opposite sides of the issue, his mother content as a socialite, his father at least to some degree believing in the need for increased equity. The street demonstration scenes capture the anger, the power, and the fear of the time.

We witness the backlash of the parents at school to the priest’s “communist” tendencies, because he attempts to integrate groups they feel best remain separate. We glimpse the resourcefulness of Pedro’s “uncle,” who makes a living selling flags to both sides: the Marxists and the traditionalists. We hear about land redistribution and industry nationalization through radio broadcasts and posters in the streets. In movies like Machuca, stories about young friends trying to make sense of the world around them, there is usually a girl. In this case, she is the girl with whom both boys learn how to kiss. And she is most definitely and passionately a socialist.

Watching this film you will learn a lot about Chilean history, the ingrained status in Latin America, and the difficulty in bridging rich and poor and vice versa. If you’re anything like the members of my family, you’ll be talking about it for days afterwards. I’d urge you to get out your copy of Cultural Detective Chile, particularly the Chilean Values Lens, to aid your discussions of the movie. Enjoy! And please, let me know what you think!

Film Review by Sunita Nichani: “English Vinglish”

Reprint from SIETAR India Newsletter, November 2012
Written by Sunita Nichani

The topic of cultural dimensions (individualism vs. collectivism, monochrone and polychrone) is almost de rigeur in intercultural training workshops. Most of these models remain quite theoretical in the minds of our Indian participants.

As I watched the Bollywood film “English Vinglish,” I saw some great examples of these dimensions being acted out, and am delighted that some of these scenes can be used to illustrate these dimensions in a way that will resonate with Indian audiences. Please note that like with most films that portray another culture through the eyes of a foreigner, some of the situations and characters might seem a bit exaggerated or even culturally inaccurate. However, the film has many select scenes that would be a great resource for intercultural trainers looking for ways to connect theory and application. So read on!

This film by Gauri Shinde is a heart-warming tale of how an Indian housewife, played by Sreedevi, discovers her hidden potential after landing in the US and learning the English language. The film can be used for a variety of training objectives: questioning existing stereotypes, ethnocentrism, or how the film accurately or inaccurately depicts cultural differences.

Being part of a collectivist culture, Sreedevi puts her family’s needs before her own and her individual efforts are often unrecognized or even mocked by her family at home. She is an excellent cook and in India she sells her speciality “ladoos” (an Indian dessert) during weddings and other festivals. During her first English language class in the United States, her English instructor asks her what she does (individualist orientation) and Sreedevi, not used to talking about her individual accomplishments, sheepishly confesses that she sells “ladoos.” Her English instructor provides her with the term “entrepreneur,” and her face lights up at this definition of her individual identity. This theme is quite recurrent in the movie and can be used in discussions on how to leverage the best of both individualism and collectivism. For example, after having discovered the joys of individualism such as “me time,” personal development, and individual accomplishment, Sreedevi does not bail out on collectivism. On the contrary, she explains the core philosophy of collectivism in her speech at the wedding of her niece.

Yet another dimension is beautifully illustrated in the scene where Sreedevi orders a cup of coffee in New York for the first time. To see the differences between monochronic and polychronic attitudes. I encourage you to watch the film!

Thank you for this great review, Sunita, Cultural Detective extraordinaire and current President of SIETAR India.

We would like to encourage all of you to purchase early-bird registration before December 9th for the SIETAR India 2013 conference, “From Internationalization to Intercultural Competence.” It will take place in Mumbai on the 2-3 of February.