Published by Meridian World Press in Conjunction with SIETAR Europa 2014. 186 pages.
Review by Matthew Hill
This book manages to be simultaneously a biography of the Mother and Fathers of intercultural thought and development, a resource list for the developing intercultural trainer and a revealing biography of the author himself. Quite an achievement in only 184 highly readable and accessible pages.
The book represents a collection of written pieces first published in the SIETAR Europa Journal over the last 6 or so years. It includes interviews with the great and the good in the world of culture, articles that show culture in action in business (company mergers and in multicultural teams) and on land (across boarders and in regions over time.)
The book concludes with 10 intercultural book reviews.
This tome takes an archeological approach, scraping away the years and asking 2 core questions – Where does culture come from? And where do the subjects of the book derive their love, passion and curiosity for the subject?
Patrick later subjects himself to the same questions and comes up with valuable insights and a worrying trend.
The common thread connecting all the participants is experience; of travel, war, shock, clash, of not understanding and of being immersed in alien worlds.
Revolving around the star of the show – Dr. Milton Bennett, the interviews and articles expand upon the concepts of empathy, ethnorelativity, dilemma reconciliation and the role of history, geography and religion in forming the cultural norms of countries such as USA, German, Austria and France.
The project of interviewing a list of secret heroes also reveals a dark cloud floating ominously above the intercultural community. The author does not shy away from asking the tough questions about the purpose and effectiveness of Intercultural training, SIETAR and its commercial impact.
At one point, if you are skimming through the pages, you may feel that Patrick is actually in the room with The President of the United States – Something to look out for.
Accompanying the reader’s journey through the hall of intercultural fame is a dance of the seven veils in which Patrick Schmidt, through his choice of participants, his choice of polemic and his choice of references, reveals both his fluency in the concepts and a pedagogical depth not normally associated with a trainer or visiting lecturer.
An additional bonus for SIETAR members, both old and not so old, is the chance to gain a new perspective on the key influencers we think we know. Patrick, in his interviews gently teases out the context in which the main players in the field found their inspiration for breakthroughs and discoveries.
This book represents an honest chronicle of the SIETAR movement, the Intercultural field and of Patrick Schmidt himself. A worthy and useful read.