Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reigniting the Passion of Intercultural Relations

     How do I begin to comment on a truly exceptional day? It began with an evocative keynote opening at breakfast with Professor Motoo Unno. It has been one year since the Japanese disaster that devastated the country and indeed the world. The film showing the tsunami and the ensuing relationships of friendship from around the world over the past year as the Japanese people piece their lives back together had many, including myself, in tears. I have many friends in Japan, including the very first Japanese city I lived in, Sendai in 1989/1990. Needless to say, the morning began on a very interpersonal note in the deepest sense.

     The first session I attended was Global Leadership with Suzanne Zaldivar. There was a great deal of information and discussion and the interactive highlight came when each participant was given a photo and told to find the person with a similar photo, but using words only, not the actual photo. I had immediately assumed I was looking for a match. When the photos were revealed, we organized ourselves in a timeline... or photo line to discover the the first was a photo of a rooster comb and each of the 29 subsequent photos were taken from a more distant place such as the rooster, then people watching the rooster, to a photo of a house and village that were on a stamp, on a letter, and so on until the story narrative ended in a photo of the entire planet Earth. The main take-away for me here is that no one can work alone to solve challenges and that every department is interconnected and cannot work independent of each other. The new global leader joins values that are not easily joined.

     The second session, Assessing Intercultural Effectiveness with Chris Cartwright and Valli Murphy, spoke of the uses of tools such as the Kozai Groups' Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES) and had a great case study the had actually occurred. In this case, the IES was given a month into a foreign posting and although the real case did not have a happy ending, it clearly showed the need for such tools to be used in pre-departure trainings to ensue the right competencies and the right fit. Again, the highlight for me was in the activity allowing us time to come up with a plan the might have helped this client become more successful.

     The luncheon keynote, presented by Dana Priest was both informative and frightening in the sense that the American Government is growing at an alarming rate post 9/11 concerning Homeland Security and that no one really knows all that is going on or how many people there really are for the sake of keeping our American society safe.

     Discussing New Trends and Challenges in Cross-cultural Training was Neal Goodman. The fact that technology is now advanced to a point that expensive face-to-face meetings can occur virtually is not necessarily the best means to an end. The session was interesting, yet I find myself conflicted in this situation.

     The Global Coaching session by Ursula Lietzmann brought training on to a personal level using Milton Bennett's DMIS and Kegan's Adult Development Perspective. It was a lively discussion that dealt with individuals rather than corporations.

     The best part of the day was interacting with a host of people from around the world and those that have studied and worked around the world. 9 pm was still too early to be parting from old colleagues and new. There are so many more conversations and dialogues to have and to continue. Such a brilliantly successful day!

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