10 Things to Help You in Sao Paulo, Brazil (or a country other than your own)

 My son Dillon and I find ourselves unexpectedly in Brazil.  Here is our list, created jointly, of 10 things to adapt more easily to another country: Ask questions.  Dillon asks in English, he gets responses in Portuguese-not sure how it works, but accompanied by pointing and context, it does seem to work! Meet a guy…

Translating Timothy Cole’s Injustice into Anti-Racist Action

The problem with stereotyping is that it presumes guilt before innocence, dictating that someone will behave a certain way because of their race or ethnicity.  In the extreme, the results can be devastating, as they were for the late Timothy Cole, a young black man who was exonerated last week for a rape he didn’t…

Intercultural Bridges: Explaining the Chinese New Year In English to Lithuanians

 I took Dillon and one of his classmates to the Chinese New Year parade in Chicago’s Chinatown yesterday.  You have to love culture in an urban environment:  there were dragons and lion dancers and colorful floats from various Asian-American Chambers of Commerce, but also the Irish Shamrock Rovers and marching bands and drill teams from…

Using Your Midlife Crisis as a Catalyst for Intercultural Parenting

 According to psychologytoday.com, a mid-life crisis can hit around age 40, plus or minus 20 years, and can include “questioning decisions made years earlier and the meaning of life.”  However, in the words of English novelist George Eliot (aka Mary Anne Evans), “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”  As…

Four No- or Low-Cost Ways to Jump Start Intercultural Dialogue in Your Home in the New Year

 While today’s economy might prevent international travel for a spell, there are plenty of inexpensive things to do to share cultural traditions, inspire curiosity and empathy and improve your intercultural communication skills.  Here are just a few: 1) Hang a map of the world on your wall! Ignorance breeds indifference. Point out locations of world…

Family Friday: More Than a Bad Word, Explaining the Power and Context of the N-Word

My 7 year old learned the N-word a few weeks ago, and was immediately told that it was bad, 1.) Because he would get beat up if he used it (explanation from my dad) and 2.) It was just a bad word, “Like the F-word” (explanation from me).  I was left with a fear from…

Family Friday: Children, Prejudice and Modeling Culturally Sensitive Behavior

 With an American mom and a Brazilian dad, you’d think our child would spontaneously be a model of behavior in multicultural settings.   A dinner conversation this week, however, reminded me that while setting a good example is important, a parent’s job is much more complex.  You can’t assume your child will learn how to be…

Cross-Cultural Communications Competence: Practical Applications and Loving Your Family

 Call it “How to win friends and influence people,”  “Getting to Yes“, or call it cross-cultural communications, but it’s all the same thing–how to communicate to come to agreement or understanding with people who are different from you to achieve your objective.   In business, no matter how you slice it, it all flows back to…

“To Do List” for the Right to Vote as an Intercultural Communications Issue

Apparently I’ve been living under a rock.  A couple of weeks ago I expressed surprise at the anticipated Civil Rights violations related to the upcoming election, and sent a call out to get some other perspectives.  Thanks to everyone who responded. Despite the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which protects the right to vote, “Americans…