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Reflections on Intercultural Learning & Teaching

​Getting Beyond the Comfort Zone

Update: True North Intercultural now offers a FREE online training on this very topic! It comes with a useful activity and ideas of how you can use or adapt the activity in your context. Click here to enroll in the course now.

I likely never would have met my spouse if I had not consistently and intentionally pushed myself outside my comfort zone while studying abroad.

While spending my junior year of college in Sevilla, Spain, I had what you might call a mantra. I regularly reminded myself of a favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “Do one thing that scares you every day.”

For example, when I stood at the edge of the cafeteria in the residence where I lived one day and surveyed the room, these words rang in my head and inspired me not to sit with the other students from my program, but to instead approach two good-looking guys I had never seen before (go big or go home, right?) in order to make local friends and practice my Spanish. So I introduced myself (in...

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Creating Inclusive Communities for Transgender Students

guest interview May 23, 2017

I’m always telling educators that if we want to effectively facilitate students’ intercultural learning, we need to focus on our own intercultural development. In that vein, I try to seek out opportunities to expand my own perspectives. So when I recently met grey doolin, a transqueer consultant (pronouns: they/them/theirs), I invited them to “guest blog” in order to both expand my own understanding and share that learning with other educators interested in creating more inclusive environments for transgender students (as well as staff).

grey doolin identifies as a transqueer consultant, activist-educator, artist, healer, and true-heart with a background in community mental health. Founder of greyspace consulting and Radical Wayfaring, grey is passionate about teaching others how to provide inclusive and dignifying spaces and services to queer-  and trans-identified individuals. 

Here’s my interview with grey…
 
Tara: ...

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Is the SIIC Fellows Program Right for Me?

Every year around this time, I am contacted by several people interested in applying to the Fellows Program at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC) who want to ask me about my experience in the program.
 
My intention with this blog post is to share some insider information about the SIIC Fellows Program experience. The opinions expressed here are primarily my own, but I also gathered input from several other past Fellows and from Janet Bennett, Executive Director of the Intercultural Communication Institute (ICI), the organization that sponsors SIIC.
 
I don’t present this as an “unbiased” review, as any interculturalist knows we all have biases. So here are mine, up front and center: 
 
I was first a Fellow (although we were called “Interns” back then) in 2008. I attended SIIC as a “Returning Fellow” (or “Rintern” in the SIIC vernacular) in 2010 and 2013. In 2015, I attended as a regular...

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Starting a Faculty/Staff Intercultural Book Club (Professional Development on a Budget!)

Recently, I have received several requests for book recommendations from educators interested in organizing faculty/staff book clubs or similar, so I’ve decided to address the question here.
 
Developing a faculty/staff book club, or organizing some type of lunch-and-learn around a common reading, can be an excellent way to foster intercultural learning on your campus. An added bonus is that it’s an extremely budget-friendly professional development opportunity!   
 
In addition to being passionate about all things intercultural, I’m also an avid reader. So I love reading books that give me insight into other cultures, help me not just see—but almost step into—another person’s world and perspective. What’s even more exciting, in my opinion, is then discussing said books with other people who offer yet another perspective.
 
In an effort to help anyone who might want to consider starting such a book club, I...

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