A Guide to the European Intercultural Event of the Year by Matthew Hill
1, Meeting people
With up to 360 people attending the SIETAR Congress in Dublin later in May, There is no better opportunity this year to mingle with, meet and befriend like- valued people who happen to be different.
Meeting new friends
Practice what we preach
Knowing the truth – that exposure to diversity helps turn distrust into acceptance and engagement, you need to be present in Dublin, to join in the social activities, put yourself out there and be part of the process.
One big and, sometimes, happy family
I regard SIETAR as a family (in all aspects.) There are mothers, fathers and children. We argue. We don’t want to go to bed early. We disagree on which restaurant to eat at. We debate long and loud but manage to speak with a civil tongue over breakfast. We are a normal dysfunctional family.
The proof of effective maturity in achieving constructive diversity is experienced in inclusion. For the most part this is a reality within SIETAR where members are encouraged to uphold critical values of open mindedness, warmth and curiosity. We have had our dark moments in Granada and Tallinn where this has been tested and we have come through, bruised but wiser. In these bizarre times of anti – progressive popularism, economic division, xenophobia and the extremes of capitalism, it is more important than ever for the intelligent and mindful to listen and move beyond the single story and an overwhelming tide of poisonous propaganda.
- Learn something
The Congress will be brought to life by a selected team of deeply experienced people who are willing to present their wisdom to others and share insights and stories in a way that is compelling, relevant (AND reusable as a training resource for YOU in your next class.)
I am impressed by SIETAR. It is populated almost exclusively by a volunteer army of kind professionals giving out examples, models and explanations with a belief in their efficacy in creating better companies, better government and healthier communities.
If standards are to be maintained and the body of intercultural knowledge is to progress and expand (there is always some doubt here) then it is in the 45 minutes sessions that this magical process of growth and transfer will happen.
The direct transfer of wisdom and experience
- Intercultural Dialogue.
Courageous exchanges are coming under threat from the misuse of technology, the misuse of government power and the fear both create around job security or the legal right of marginal activists to remain?
We live in dangerous times
Whilst not always facing up the immediate danger or taking on the big issues head on, this forum is the best we have for tackling the real and present threats we face from the “end of world” phenomena that seem to pop up on a weekly basis.
Where will the conversation lead?
In vino veritas
I love sharing a glass of red wine and finding someone new sitting next to me at lunch. With a minimum of social probing a story will unfold that will change me, amuse me and affect me. Each SIETARian has a dozen examples of such a moving encounter.
The wonderful power of SIETAR is – everyone has the capacity to add to the debate – contributing their perspective, their point of view and their experience. It is the tolerance and patience of the assembled people that makes this a truly inspiring event – an occasion that is long anticipated and… over all too quickly.
What do you need? And want?
Rose coloured spectacles
Some of the more cynical (an important cultural difference often ignore by the fathers and mothers of culture) may moan about having to pay VAT on their ticket, queuing for lunch, the hit and miss nature of the Gala dinner or the “overly democratic and painful decision making processes that seem endless in SIETAR committees…”
But consider this – How much poorer would we be without the space created by this Congress?
Over to you.
What will you bring and share in Dublin? What will you take away and use? Which discussions will you contribute to and what insights will you gain?
I’ll see you there.
The Author Matthew Hill, was President of SIETAR UK for 5 years.