Breaking out of 2-Dimensional Diversity

 Here are two resources that go well beyond the two-dimensional, US construct of diversity:  Global Voices–which “aggregates, curates, and amplifies the global conversation online,” and the book “A Stranger Among Us:  Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection,” edited by Stacy Bierlein (the book I picked up at a recent event at ThinkArt Salon, an…

Vision, Action and the Love of Dogs in Iraq

“Now that’s what I’m talking about with Intercultural Communications,” I thought when I read this story about acceptance of bomb sniffing dogs in Iraq.  The good is clear and measurable–it’s a known, effective defense against bomb attacks.  The cultural implications are readily definable:  dogs are considered unclean, getting in the way of the important bond…

Intercultural Communications and Mother-in-Laws

 My favorite story about my mother-in-law is this: It had to have been 1989 or ‘90, and Dona Antonia was visiting us in Boston from Brazil.  Because the trip was long, she usually stayed for two or three months once she was there. When Mãe (pronounced ‘my,’ Portuguese for mom) visited, she readily cared for…

Get Smart, The Cold War, Russian Spies, and Family Time

I shared with my husband the article in yesterday’s New York Times, about President Obama’s decision to give a meeting with Prime Minister Putin a backseat to some time with his family.   From an intercultural communications perspective, it struck me as 100% against the grain–the entire idea is to understand your counterpart’s orientation and frame…

Person to Person Diplomacy for Cross-Cultural Appreciation

“Getting to know you” is a lyrical description of the premier event that took place in Chicago this past weekend.  Partners of the Americas (POA), one of the largest volunteer organizations in the Western Hemisphere, hosted the first Midwest Regional Conference on volunteerism that featured the power of citizen diplomacy, the primary force in bringing…

First Steps to Cultural Understanding for US Teens

That’s Grace and Nicole.  Two teenagers enjoying an outing together.  Except that Grace is from Nicaragua, and Nicole is from Wisconsin.  The two met through the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas Youth Ambassadors Program. “The Youth Ambassadors program, begun in 2002, brings outstanding public high school students from across Latin America to the United States…

The Importance of First Voice in Intercultural Communications

 Photo by Miguel Yuste, El Pais Yesterday I don’t know that I would have even clicked to open the article on NPR about the kidnapping of Honduran President Manuel Zalaya and essentially the coup that is taking place there as we speak. Today, I am desperate to find cell phone numbers for my three friends…

Culture Shock: Everyone’s Being Mean to Me!

  After much whining during our trip to see family in Brazil last week, my eight year old son announced that he was behaving badly because “everyone here is being mean to me.”  Knowing that nothing could be further from the truth, I immediately went from being (annoyed) mother to ethnographer:  This was culture shock…a gut…

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…