[Day 2 of 5] SIETAR Europa Congress Tallinn: Daily Wrap Up

Today was jam packed with speakers, presenters and workshops.  I am exhausted… and so inspired!

Here’s today’s wrap up!

The morning started with an extremely moving opening plenary and snippet view into Estonian history and culture.  SIETAR Europa President, Deborah Swallow welcomed us and said – The World does not need interculturalists.  And then proceeded with a few questions:

Do you need a car? No. But it does make life easier.

Do you need a mobile phone? No. But it does make life easier.

The World may not need us, but as interculturalists when we do our best work, we do make life easier.


This small Baltic country, that most of us have probably very little knowledge about… has an inspiring and empowering story.  After decades of war, invasion from the Nazi’s the Soviets, the Estonians used their culture through singing and music to create a peaceful revolution.  Here is the trailer to the documentary that tells the story…

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/Fp0h9Z97w1s” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Talk about setting the stage for an inspirational conference!

The next session I attended was with Dutch presenter Arjan Arjuna Verdooren.

We looked at the concept of multiplicity.  Cultural studies has become more and more complex.  Multiple identities and contexts have made our work more dynamic and traditional methods can be quite limiting.

Arjan mentioned a favorite TED Talk –  Danger of a Single Story and discussed how the thing with stereotypes is its not a matter of if they are true or untrue, but they are incomplete.

Then we looked at the power of finding common ground

A comment from the audience posed – “Perhaps we ask, instead of ‘where do you come from? whats your culture?”‘ but more ‘How do you identify?”

We need to become comfortable with the grey zone and complexity, making “BOTH, AND” familiar and move away from concepts of “either, or.”



Next up, Kate Berardo gave a 20 minute TED Style presentation and challenged us to put to rest the Lysgaard’s U-Curve of Cultural Adjustment.

She highlighted that this 1955 studying European Fullbright Students for travel abroad to the US was done in a format where Lysgaard asked the interviewees to retrospectively go back and discuss their experience.  The research that has many holes, contradictions and issues has been used and overused in our field.

And actually, in 1998 Colleen Ward, author of Psychology of Culture Shock, suggested it be retired.  That was 15 years ago, yet the U-Curve model is still widely used and accepted.

Kate then presented us with an alternative:

The 5 R’s of Adjustment Stress 
Reflections about yourself
You can learn more about her method in this book:

Next up, I had the pleasure to learn from Elisabeth Weingraber Pircher and Ralf Wolter.   We looked at the cultural implications of virtual coaching and virtual teamwork.

How does our culture impact our use of technology?

Virtual technology has opened up a space of interaction.  It allows us to do more, enables us to communicate with others. Yet it restricts us with our perceptions and ability to communicate with competence.

They have generously shared their presentation on slideshare!

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 11.32.03 PM

Among other things in the exhibitor hall, a new training institute – European Institute for Intercultural Communication – was providing materials


The rest of the evening was spent at a lovely cocktail reception and then off to dinner we went.  It was a special treat to sit at an intimate table with old friends and new to reflect on the day.  I got to see a good friend, Luca Fornari, we’ve crossed paths in Portland, Oregon; Milan, Italy; Switzerland, Germany, Austria and now Estonia.  Always great to see familiar faces and have a good laugh! Ciao ciao ciao…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s