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Intercultural Learning:


A fresh year—in this case both 2012 and the Year of the Dragon, or —is often associated with starting anew. Indeed, as we well know within AFS (and the AFS Orientation Framework!), taking the time to reflect at the end of a cycle before entering the next one is essential and can lead to different perspectives and new initiatives. If you are not already taking part in one AFS’s many new Intercultural Learning (ICL) opportunities in 2012, there is still time to become involved and kick off your year as an intercultural one. “Sharpening our Focus” will be the theme of the upcoming AFS World Congress, an event where our leaders from around the globe gather to look ahead. We will be doing this on the subject of ICL and anticipate a week filled with inspiring, yet practical discussions about how all AFS organizations can do their part. continued on page 2

Get linked in... more information on page 6

IN THIS ISSUE The State of Intercultural Learning (ICL) in the AFS Network, Update on Priorities by Melissa Liles Page 1 Concepts & Theories: The Feeling of Culture by Dr. Milton Bennett & Dr. Ida Castiglioni Page 3 Network & Partner Initiatives: Starting the Link: A recap of 2011 AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program events by Laura Kline-Taylor Page 6

Conference Update Symposium on Intercultural Competence and Conflict Resolution in Sweden by Marcel Grüninger Page 8 Beyond AFS ICL News: Interview with Milton Bennett by Anna Collier Page 9 Network & Partner Initiatives: Executive Development in Intercultural Competencies by Paul Claes Page 10

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Conference Update Experiencing the Young SIETAR Congress by Melissa Hahn Page 11 Engaging with Difference: The Essential Work of AFS by Christian Kurtén Page 13 Upcoming AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program Opportunities Page 14



However, as important as fresh beginnings can be, a new year doesn’t mean we forget the past. Continuity, or coherence, as our friend and advisor Milton Bennett puts it, is critical to the AFS network-wide ICL strategy of Ensuring our Expertise. That is, continuing to do the work of further developing ourselves as education providers. We recently interviewed Bennett to ask his suggestions for AFS while we do this work (page 10). We also took the opportunity to reflect on the idea that he and Ida Castiglioni raise in their 2003 article about intercultural experiences and embodiment. A key component of With this in mind, don’t forget your competency, affect, or feeling, is one of intercultural sensitiveness when you the most neglected subjects in the go online. To state the obvious: the formal study of intercultural internet is an amazing tool. It is great communications. for sharing ideas and discovering new ones and there is an ease of Those of us at AFS though, are highly communicating online that has only attuned to this element of ICL, at least increased with the advent of social subconsciously: As practitioners, we media. share the joys and sorrows along with everything in between that the Consider though: How does your sojourners and host families on our appreciation of other cultures change as programs experience. you watch lives unfold online? There are many ongoing and perhaps To give academic insights on the topic unanswerable (at least for now) debates and help us reflect deliberately on the about how tech-driven communication topic, we have included an excerpt of helps or hurts intercultural the Bennett and Castiglioni article in communication and as major changes this issue (page 3) and, to complement happen in different parts of the world, it in practical terms, have created a we are observing these through eyes of related learning activity for you to use others. It is more personal now, but in your next ICL gathering (page 5). how much is too personal, and do people post things that they may never “Improving how we help others say face to face with other people? This connect” is the tagline of the AFS has been a key theme at intercultural Intercultural Link Learning Program, relations conferences for several years the training and assessment program now. for our volunteers and staff worldwide. Eloquent in its statement, we strive to Recently, a Facebook exchange include this not only in our training, but involving AFSers was witnessed by also in our daily interactions. Helping many. “It hurts my heart” as one of my others connect is Intercultural colleagues says, “to see some of the Learning, in whatever way that may vitriol and polemics happening online take place. in conversations across cultures.”

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From the ether back to the physical. Late last year, some 200 or so people had the privilege of attending a symposium with Nobel Peace Prize winner Martii Ahtisaari and other diplomats along with AFSers young and old as they discussed the timely topics of intercultural competence and conflict resolution, as well as AFS’s role here. Read some of the highlights (page 9) as well as the inspiring words shared by Christian Kurtén (page 14) as he opened the event. Finally, a big thanks and au revoir to a friend and colleague, Lisa Cohen. Lisa has been instrumental in AFS’s refocus on Intercultural Learning during the past two and a half years. A member of AFS’s International ICL Work Group, you can read about her many accomplishments (including with this newsletter) on page 4. As she moves on to new adventures, she will be missed not only for her wise insights and helpful contributions, but also for her infectious enthusiasm on the subject of learning within AFS. We intend to maintain her legacy through this newsletter. Warmly,





This article is an adaptation of an excerpt from Dr. Milton Bennett and Dr. Ida Castiglioni’s article “Embodied Ethnocentrism and the Feeling of Culture” (2004). It explores the link between cultural adaptation and awareness of one’s physical and emotional reactions. For further information on their work, as well as the complete original article, please visit

When you are in a foreign cultural context, can you feel what is appropriate?

about Italian culture, typically its objective culture (e.g., art, architecture, history). She or he might even know about Italian subjective culture and be able to analyze cultural differences in communication style or values. Yet this same person could lack a feeling for Italian culture. Without this feeling for the culture, our U.S. American would be limited in the depth of his or her understanding of Italians and in his or her ability to adapt to the culture. The main issue here is not so much what the cultural patterns are but how we feel them.

ethnocentrism. Whatever way we inhabit the world is the “right” form of things, because it gives us the feeling of “rightness.”

Taking the definition of ethnocentrism as “assuming one’s culture is central to reality,” we can see several implications. First, individuals who lack cultural self-awareness also may lack awareness of their physical and emotional states in different cultural environments. Second, people who are ethnocentric (DMIS Denial and Defense) avoid contact with cultural difference. This can be explained as their avoiding situations that Our bodies develop habits, and the experience of the world for the body is unconsciously put them in unfamiliar states, which makes them very a truth. By inhabiting the world in uncomfortable. Third, people who are particular ways, the body takes the ethnocentric (Defense) may use power form of the feeling of those habits and as a way of structuring Another major concern “To counter ethnocentrism with cultural selftheir physical and social of interculturalists is awareness, it is not enough to know the values and environment in familiar facilitating adaptation to ways. This form of other cultures. Once common behavior patterns of one’s own culture. It is control continues into again, awareness or also necessary to become sensitive to the feeling of the stage of knowledge of a culture Minimization on the appropriateness that goes with those patterns” is insufficient—one also DMIS, although it takes needs to have a feeling the less obvious form of this develops an “embodied feeling” of for it. For instance, a U.S. American positive judgments about similarities what is truth, or correct, according to might be aware that Italy has a culture with one’s own culture. our bodies. This feeling can also be that is different from that of the The key to getting beyond United States. He or she might be able described as ethnocentrism. The body does not know (or care) that ethnocentrism is cultural selfto recognize behavior as more U.S. interculturalists think that awareness, or experiencing one’s self American or more Italian. This U.S. ethnorelativism is better than as operating in cultural context. We American might also know a lot We want to speak of the feeling of one’s own culture and the feeling for other cultures. This subject is important to interculturalists because much of their work concerns ethnocentrism, and the most important fact of ethnocentrism is that things simply “feel right” in one’s own culture. To counter ethnocentrism with cultural self-awareness, it is not enough to know the values and common behavior patterns of one’s own culture. It is also necessary to become sensitive to the feeling of appropriateness that goes with those patterns.

AFS Intercultural Link |



suggest that body awareness techniques can add an ethnophysiological dimension to cultural self-awareness. Our bodies offer the last resistance to ethnorelativism. We can learn culture-general strategies of adaptation, we can learn culturespecific constructs, we can learn the language, but we generally do not learn how to adapt our bodies consciously into the “appropriate” cultural form. This can be done first through the observation of how we carry our bodies in our cultural context and then of how our bodies react to cultural differences in space, shape, rhythm, and so on.

appear to either help or hinder adaptation. But we are adding an additional link that is the feeling for the other culture. With that feeling, behavior appropriate in the other culture can come naturally to us, just as it does in our own culture. The challenge is to create methods to use in intercultural training that will provide learners with (a) access to the embodied feeling of their own culture, (b) techniques for understanding the embodied feeling of other cultures, and (c) the mindset necessary to support these skills.

In intercultural training sessions, we can create simulations and other situations in which people can On the ethnorelative side of experience their body’s reactions. In development, people appear to be these situations, we draw attention to more aware of their embodied the feeling of the situation. We ask feeling of culture and have greater the participants to pay attention to cultural self-awareness. Also, they their bodies — feeling a vibration, recognize that experiencing other slowing the breath . . . and little by cultures provides them with access to different ethnophysiological states, little we learn to transform these perceptual experiences into and that access to those states something that has to do with our benefits them. way of being and our emotional Of course, it is necessary to know as (embodied) experience. much cognitive information about another culture as possible, and certainly there are attitudes that

How do different environments affect you physically?

AFS Network Intercultural Learning Work Group Member

Lisa Cohen

Lisa Cohen, Senior Organizational Development Specialist and head of international training at AFS International, has long been passionate about Intercultural Learning and has inspired many colleagues around the world to embrace the topic with similar enthusiasm. Having worked in multiple capacities at both AFS International and AFS USA over the past 18 years, Lisa’s most recent focus has been on training as a core aspect of organizational development. In addition to being a curriculum designer and master trainer, she is a certified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory and a Certified Facilitator for Cultural Detective®. She holds a Masters degree in International Education from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University, both in the US. Lisa has been instrumental in initiating the AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program as well as this newsletter; she was its first editor. Lisa’s professional tenure with AFS will come to a close in March, but we hope she will continue to contribute to both AFS and the Work Group’s efforts as a trusted advisor.

AFS Intercultural Link |




Try something new today!

The Feeling of Culture Becoming Aware of our Embodied Ethnocentrism ANNA COLLIER, INTERCULTURAL LEARNING SERVICES MANAGER, AFS INTERNATIONAL

The AFS Intercultural Programs education department is happy to share one of our newest exercises that is appropriate for intercultural learners of all ages! For more information, including suggestions on how to use this within the AFS Orientation Framework, please contact us at

SESSION GOAL This session aims to raise awareness of how our bodies react physically and emotionally to changes in our environments, especially paying attention to the difference in reactions between personal and cultural changes, and understand how a greater awareness of such reactions supports one’s progression from an ethnocentric to an ethnorelative worldview. LEARNING OBJECTIVES After this session, participants will be able to: • Describe some of their physical and emotional reactions to change. • Understand the important information our physical and emotional responses can provide us about our comfort with our surroundings. • Understand why self-awareness is such a key element in the development of an ethnorelative worldview. SPACE REQUIREMENTS Chairs in a semi-circle or around a table, so that everyone can talk to each other as well as view a computer or projector screen. NECESSARY MATERIALS Digital camera (each participant) Computer with monitor or projector & screen Paper and writing instrument HANDOUTS Excerpt from Milton Bennett and Ida Castiglioni’s article, “Embodied Ethnocentrism and the Feeling of Culture,” (2003), found on page 3 of this newsletter.

STEP-BY-STEP SESSION DESCRIPTION In AFS, many of our Intercultural Learning discussions and trainings involve the concept of the ABCs – Affective, Behavioral, and Cognitive skills – of intercultural competence. Out of these three elements, affective skills are the most difficult to develop and to assess, yet the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), among other models, describes the necessity of developing affective skills such as empathy and emotional code-shifting for an ethnorelative point of view. This activity and accompanying prereading are meant to raise awareness of our (dis)comfort with difference from a physical and emotional perspective, rather than an intellectual one. Preparation (10 minutes – to be completed the day before the interactive session begins) 1. Read handout, the excerpt from Milton Bennett and Ida Castiglioni’s article, “Embodied Ethnocentrism and the Feeling of Culture” (2003). Interactive Session (up to 90 minutes total) 2. Getting started: When you wake up, begin your morning with a centering activity. Use one you already know from yoga or meditation, or simply close your eyes, with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your legs, and breathe deeply for a few minutes, paying close attention to your heart-rate, breathing patterns, and other senses in your body. Attempt to clear your thoughts and focus on your body and your feelings (physical and emotional sensations). 3. At home activities: Change two (2) things about your personal morning routine. For example, eat breakfast at home instead of in the office or drink your morning beverage from a different type of cup. Be sure to pay attention to your physical and emotional sensations while you make these changes. Take pictures that represent your changes, to share with the rest of the group.

AFS Intercultural Link |

4. On your way to work/this meeting/ etc. activities: Put yourself in three (3) new cultural situations. For example, take a different bus to work, buy tea or coffee in a store attended or populated by people of a different cultural background, get off the bus at a midway stop and walk around the block before continuing your trip, or walk inside a building you have never been to. Take pictures that represent those situations. Reflection (30 minutes) 5. Each participant reflects individually for 10 minutes on the questions below, recording one’s answers on a piece of paper. • What did you notice about your body’s physical and emotional responses? Did they match your mental reactions? • Was there a difference between the changes you made at home (personal) and the changes you made on the way to work (cultural)? • Which type of difference was more difficult (different)? What does this tell you about your “(dis)comfort with difference”? • What have you learned from this activity that you can apply to your personal life? Your work in AFS? 6. Gather as a group. Each participant has an opportunity to share the pictures that s/he took during the change activities, with the trainer asking each person to reflect out loud on the reflection questions and describe the emotional and physical sensations s/he noticed during the activity. Focus especially on applications to AFS work. REFERENCES “Embodied Ethnocentrism and the Feeling of Culture,” by Milton Bennett and Ida Castiglioni (2004). Available at or in the book Handbook of Intercultural Training, edited by Dan Landis, Janet Bennett and Milton Bennett (2004).




Starting the Link A recap of 2011 AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program events and a glimpse of things to come in 2012 LAURA KLINE-TAYLOR, LEARNING PROGRAM MANAGER, AFS INTERNATIONAL

2011 was a busy year for the AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program that is just now officially launching. CURRICULUM & METHODOLOGY

Consulting with fellow experts, a team of nine internal Intercultural Learning (ICL) specialists from around the world have developed a standard curriculum that provides basic then progressively more advanced intercultural content for AFS staff and volunteers. The design team has also created an AFS-appropriate approach to deliver the Program, using a combination of inperson events and distance (e.g. online) learning opportunities. QUALIFIED TRAINERS

Last October, a Qualifying Trainers Workshop was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over the course of four days, The Learning Program curriculum is delivered in three stages, covering seven categories of content

18 volunteer and staff trainers from around the AFS network were taught the Learning Program’s global training approach, as well as how to deliver the content in the standardized curriculum. The group’s diverse intercultural experiences and training skills made for rich conversation and debate on the topic of intercultural learning within AFS and beyond. LEVEL 1 IN-PERSON EVENTS

Just a month later, in November, six of these Qualified Trainers (José Manuel Buyatti, Tommy Soberanis, Victoria Soto, Adele Blackwood, Jason Lee and Vidhi Jain), together with members of the curriculum design team as Lead Trainers, conducted the first two inperson Learning Program events for the Central American and Asia-Pacific regions of AFS. Content focused on connecting ICL theories and concepts directly to the AFS operational areas of support, orientation, and training. In other words, the workshops help AFSers put theory immediately into practice. Volunteers and staff from AFS organizations in Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela, as well as China, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the Philippines came together in Panama City and Kuala Lumpur, respectively. Within in the

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Program’s thoughtfully structured environment these learners shared their own cultural experiences and worked to identify methods for applying the newly acquired knowledge and skills. LEVEL 1 DISTANCE EVENTS

But the learning is far from over! Now that they are enrolled in the Learning Program, next up are follow up events that will allow the 2011 class to share successes and challenges in applying the learning at home. They will also have the opportunity to interact with their Learning Program counterparts in other regions of AFS. Distance events will include reflection calls, debriefing sessions on assessments, plus live webinars with experts from around the world. LEVELS 1, 2, AND MORE IN 2012

In 2012, participants will also be invited back to take part in Level 2 offerings. In addition to Central America and Asia-Pacific, in-person Learning Program events will expand to Europe and North America, and distance-only events will begin.

Go to to watch 2011 Learning Program highlights!




H.M. Crown Princess Victoria

In conjunction with a meeting of the AFS Board of Trustees in Stockholm last year, AFS Sweden held a public event on 21 October: The AFS Symposium on Intercultural Competence

and Conflict Resolution. Along with distinguished international dignitaries, the symposium brought together AFSers and friends from different age groups and backgrounds to discuss the importance of intercultural competencies as a means to both prevent and resolve conflicts. Almost 200 people gathered at a conference center in downtown Stockholm keen to hear panel discussions on politics, international relations, intercultural communication exchanges, and, last but not least, how AFS has and can influence these areas. The guest of honor was Her Majesty Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden. “The importance of intercultural education to avoid violence and conflicts: What is needed and who is responsible to make it happen?”

The first of three panels centered on these questions. It featured Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland and 2008 Nobel Peace Prize winner; Jan Eliasson, former minister of foreign affairs of Sweden and former Permanent Representative to the UN in New York; Anders Milton, former chair of the Red Cross in Sweden; Lars Heikensten, former head of the Swedish National Bank; and Madeleine Ströje-Wilkens, former Ambassador of Sweden and

current AFS Trustee. With local TV host Karin Hübinette moderating, some of the more intriguing remarks included: “There is no backlash on multiculturalism but we have not done enough for integration.” - Martti Ahtisaari “Cultural sensitivity is essential to conflict mediation.” - Jan Eliasson “More people are interested in contributing to making a difference today.” - Anders Milton “Youth enthusiasm was a positive effect of the Arab Spring in 2011.” - Madeleine Ströje-Wilkens “AFS changes international and personal perspectives for participants.” - Lars Heikensten “AFS can bring the individual action into a larger perspective.” - Jan Eliasson “Are AFS students future ambassadors for peace?” and “How is intercultural understanding applied in reality by students, before, during, and after the program?”

This was the topic of panel two, moderated by Anders Fernlund, former AFS Sweden. Participants in this discussion were current AFS exchange students and alumni who shared views such as: “Teachers need to make time for intercultural learning in school for all.” - Richard Walls (from Australia)

“What is the role AFS can plan in peace building?”

Finally, various AFS dignitaries including Don Mohanlal, President and CEO, Nand & Jeet Khemaka Foundation India and AFS Trustee; Rosario Gutierrez Becquet, Director of AFS Colombia; Sherifa Fayez, Director of AFS Egypt; Vincenzo Morlini, President of AFS Intercultural Programs (worldwide); and William (Bill) Meserve, Retired Partner, Ropes & Grey US and AFS Trustee/Vice Chair shared views on AFS and peace. “Understanding that life is enriched by differences is one of our tasks.” - Vincenzo Morlini “Stop the isolation between East and West.” - Sherifa Fayez “Tolerating others cannot be enough, we aim for acceptance.” - Rosario Gutierrez Becequet “Peace is more than the absence of war, there needs to be wellbeing, intercultural learning, and more.” - Don Mohanlan All three debates – enhanced by audience questions – stressed the importance of intercultural encounters and structure education around understanding and working through differences. Inspired by the day, many continued the discussions during an evening fundraising event hosted by AFS Sweden. See more quotes via AFS Sweden’s Twitter account: @Interkulturellt

“Schools should give their students the opportunity for informal learning.” - Aviva Katzeff Silberstein (went to USA in 2010) “I wanted to discover the world, that's why I became exchange student.” - Donatello Piancazzo (from Italy). Other panelists included Natasha Pickup (from New Zealand) as well as former AFS participants Astrid Johnson (went to Mexico in 2009), Filip Ängby (went to Italy in 2009), and Annika Becker (went to USA in 1965). AFS Intercultural Link |

Rosario Gutierrez Becquet (AFS Colombia) and Sherifa Fayez (AFS Egypt)





intercultural communication demands that we be conscious in a way that monocultural communication does not.

What academic field was your entry into intercultural studies? How do you see this link?

Based between Milan, Italy, and Portland, OR, Dr. Milton Bennett is currently an adjunct professor of intercultural studies in the Department of Sociology of the University of Milano-Bicocca and is on the Board of Directors of the Intercultural Development Research Institute (IDRI). Bennett is perhaps best known for the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS). He is also a member of the AFS Educational Advisory Council. We had the opportunity to talk with him about his intercultural work and hear some of his advice to for those of us in the field.

How did you get involved in the intercultural field? I had an AFS host brother from Hamburg, Germany in 1962 and this was a very important experience for me. I did not take advantage of study abroad in college, but went to the Peace Corps in 1968-‘70 in Micronesia. This was a strong other-cultural living experience that was very influential in my life. Also, I have always been very interested in consciousness. I think

I passed through physics, creative writing and English literature, cognitive psychology, and psycholinguistics, before shifting into intercultural communication (ICC) for my PhD from the University of Minnesota. People now-a-days move into intercultural communication from many different fields. My recommendation is to come from communication theory as much as possible because it is consistent with the origins of ICC: understanding how we make meaning across cultures. People also come to ICC from linguistics or psychology, and sometimes anthropology or business.

Which aspect of intercultural learning or communication has your work focused on?

“Perception is the basis of empathy – how we understand other people in terms of their own experience – which is in turn the key to consciously communicating more effectively.”

Conceptually, my work focuses on perception, empathy, and consciousness. Perception is the basis of empathy – how we understand other people in terms of their own experience – which is in turn the key to consciously communicating more effectively. The specific areas

AFS Intercultural Link |

of ICC that I have focused on are international education, multicultural workforces and global leadership, and social applications.

What do you wish more people understood about intercultural work? The main thing is that although anthropology, linguistics, and psychology are all important ways to think about intercultural issues, they are different from intercultural education and intercultural learning (ICL). To understand this difference is the most important thing. In my opinion, the power of ICC and ICL lies in its being approached as a unique and coherent body of research and theory and if we fail to recognize how it is distinct, it loses a lot of its power.

What would you suggest for people new to the ICL field to read as they get started? I would recommend a combination of an overview of the field together with new research and the some of the original sources. My book, Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication (1998), provides this combination. A book still in press edited by Vande Berg, Paige, and Lou, Student Learning Abroad is likely to have a good combination of current research and original writers in the international education field. Also, everyone should read something by E.T. Hall, especially The Silent Language and The Hidden Dimension. People need to understand that conceptual understanding must come before the activities and exercises. Too often, people learn how to do an



activity but they do not know why they are doing it.

How has the ICL field changed since you entered it? When we first started doing ICC work in 1973, we were the pretty much the only ones. As the years have gone on, our early assumption that ICC was an important thing has come true. Many people want to get into ICC and other fields are trying to apply what they

know to it. One of the biggest changes is that there are a lot more people working in the field. In some ways they cooperate, but in other ways they fight for the same territory.

In your view, what are the hot topics in ICL these days? Everyone is talking about intercultural competence but I personally think that it is just another word change (e.g., competence, communication,

learning). Moreover, people usually do not have a consistent definition of competence. There are two general ways of thinking about it: as an internal psychological state and as an external demonstration of a communication ability. Since the theoretical bases for those two are different, people need to be aware of which of the two approaches they are using and how they might be trying to combine them.



The aim of this seminar that brought together staff directors from 27 AFS Paul Claes (author), Marit Gronskei during school visit organizations was to increase the participants’ Thank you to Paul Claes for sharing this intercultural competence and development, excerpt from his article about the 2011 both personally and as the director of an AFS Executive Development Seminar. For AFS organization, and to enhance their the full article, see the October 2011 ability to link Intercultural Learning (ICL) edition of the EFILife newsletter. with AFS’ organizational development and health. The Executive Development Seminar (EDS) 2011, organized by AFS International, took place in Beijing, China, 18 - 21 September.

Sessions included interactive exercises, using AFS’s own proprietary materials as well as the Cultural Detective tool and the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale survey

(IES). One of the guest facilitators was Edith Coron, a global leadership coach and intercultural communication specialist based in Beijing. Finally, to put newly acquired skills into practice, the seminar concluded with field trips to secondary and vocational schools in Beijing, as well as a forum in which current president of the China Education Association for International Exchange and former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, Dr. Zhang Xinsheng, shared his views on the value of multiculturalism in education today and in the future.

Volunteers and volunteerism are who we are. Our organization brings about changes in lives through and for our global community of volunteers.

AFS Intercultural Programs is an international, voluntary, nongovernmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. We pursue our mission by providing quality intercultural learning opportunities for a growing number of young people, families, other stakeholders and wider

audiences, thus developing an inclusive community of global citizens determined to build bridges between cultures. Real life experiential learning, supported by structured reflection, is the core of our programs. We endeavor to link our intercultural learning opportunities to the defining global issues facing humanity. We reach out to past, current and future participants, volunteers, and other stakeholders using the media and technology they use. AFS Intercultural Link |

We are recognized as an educational organization by schools and the appropriate authorities. We work to create a regulatory environment that supports our programs. As a learning organization, we welcome change and critical thinking. We are innovative and entrepreneurial in advancing the strategic directions, working together with others whenever appropriate. To learn more about our global network and get involved today, visit




The Young SIETAR Congress An Experiential Perspective MELISSA HAHN, GUEST AUTHOR

break through our comfort zones to talk to real Slovenes – and to each other.

Melissa Hahn is currently completing a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Relations. We thank her for her contribution as a guest writer in this edition of AFS Intercultural Link.

At the end of October, a classmate and I travelled to Slovenia for the Young SIETAR (YS) 2011 Congress. As Master of Arts students in the Intercultural Relations program at the University of the Pacific in conjunction with the Intercultural Communication Institute (USA), the YS Congress intrigued us because it offered a chance to learn about our field through a European lens and to interact with students from around the world. Flying from the US to Europe is no small (or cheap) task, so we made the most of the journey by exploring both Vienna and Budapest before taking the train to Ljubljana. Our conference began at Celica, a former AustroHungarian and Yugoslavian prison turned youth hostel. The setting was an artistic invitation to modern Slovenia: creative, colorful, and playful in the way it put a new spin on its difficult past. After a social evening, we began the next morning with getting-to-know-you activities at the city’s Ethnographic Museum. Next, we divided into teams to complete a scavenger hunt designed to introduce us simultaneously to the city’s history and landscape as well as to Slovenian culture. It also helped us

Congress coordinators had asked us to bring a small item from home, which we shared in small groups. The discussions That afternoon, a bus took us north to allowed us to appreciate ways in which Planica, the Olympic Training Center we are all similar and yet different; many and home to the second highest ski of us admitted to feeling torn between a jump in Europe. Nestled in beautiful desire to settle down at some point and Triglav National Park, the location was wanting to be perpetually mobile across stunning. Many of us opted to the globe. The final night brought our participate in a scenic hike; my group best chance for simply socializing and walked through fluttering golden and kicking back, as some participants took red leaves, and across a hill dotted by traditional Slovenian hay stacks to arrive to the dance floor and others curled up in conference chairs for lengthy at the source of the Sava River. conversations. On the Breathing in the morning of our last day, fragrant fresh air we convened for the as I stared down General Assembly, into a completely where we took care of clear blue pond, I official business and realized that the voted for a new board. I hike was a window had decided to submit into the Slovenian my name, and was spirit. One of our elected Education local hosts Coordinator. explained that

“I was heartened that, despite the mistakes that we all make as we attempt to move between cultures, real friendships are possible.”

Slovenes cherish the outdoors, a healthy environment, and an active life shared with friends. We were not simply going on a walk, but were, for a short while, living a Slovenian moment.

The Congress itself had a variety of workshops and training sessions. At one point, my group improvised a sketch on the recent history of the field. I also attended a workshop on the relationship between gender and culture, and another on issues of humanitarian aid campaigns perpetuating stereotypes about regions and peoples. During yet another session we focused on becoming better listeners and exploring the intersection of personality and culture. AFS Intercultural Link |

Now that I have returned home, a few things stand out about the experience. One was an appreciation for the enormous task that developing and carrying out an international conference must be. Another was an awareness of the ways that we are all working in our own frames. Several times, I was struck by how “European” the event felt. This made me wonder how conferences in the US may feel “American” even when the organizers are trying to be inclusive. Last, I was heartened that, despite the mistakes that we all make as we attempt to move between cultures, real friendships are possible. I can’t wait to go back.



Meet an AFS ICL Responsible


2011 Young SIETAR Conference: Main Themes

Keyla Colmenares is the Sending Coordinator for AFS Venezuela. Her academic and professional background is in education and the humanities. In her current position, Keyla has many opportunities to incorporate her educational skills into participant orientations, support for Venezuelan students abroad, and working with families at home in Venezuela. Soon after starting at AFS, Keyla began studying intercultural topics and incorporating them into her work. In March 2008, Keyla participated in her first training on intercultural learning, offered by AFS Venezuela. In March 2010, she attended a conference on intercultural psychology, given by Andrea Sebben of Porto Alegre, Brazil. Most recently (November 2011), Keyla participated in the first AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program event in Central America.

A number of AFSers are involved with the Young Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research. Young SIETAR, as it’s known, is an international association in which students and younger professionals in the intercultural field work together on topics of common interest. The organization’s mission is to contribute to a better understanding between people with different cultural backgrounds, thus turning this world into a peaceful and meaningful place. It uses digital means to unite its members – and AFS Switzerland’s Stephan Winaker is the group’s webmaster. Jana Holla, AFS Egypt volunteer and member of the European Federation of Intercultural Learning (EFIL) Pool of Trainers, was an organizer of the group’s worldwide conference that took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 26-30 October 2011. She explained that the key themes of this 12th annual gathering were the past and present state of interculturalism, as well as enhancing intercultural collaboration and understanding in the world. In the case of the latter, the aim was for conference participants to get inspired by existing projects that they might be involved in, learn through case studies about various cross-cultural challenges of people, and look for and propose possible solutions.

AFS Intercultural Link |

Keyla incorporates what she has learned about intercultural topics into the events she plans for AFS audiences. Very soon she and her colleagues at AFS Venezuela will be presenting an ICL action plan for 2012 to their national board based on ideas that were developed during the Learning Program event as well as an AFS National ICL Strategy Development Workshop.

Merci Manon! Bonjour You? Manon Prévost-Mullane has been the Project Manager for this newsletter since March 2010. We send out a huge thank you to her as her internship comes to a close. But we say au revoir, not goodbye: Manon will remain involved in the newsletter, providing occasional support. INTERNSHIP OPENING If you are interested in becoming involved in the AFS Intercultural Link newsletter as a future Project Manager or a contributing writer, please contact




Christian A. Kurtén

The following is a transcript of remarks given by Christian Kurtén in his address to the Intercultural Competence and Conflict Resolution Symposium organized by AFS Sweden in Stockholm on 21 October 2011, and attended by various dignitaries including members of Sweden’s royal family. Read more about the Symposium on page 9.

Your Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria, distinguished speakers and honored guests: In 1998 John Hume, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Irish politician said “All conflict is about difference; whether the difference is race, religion, or nationality the European visionaries decided that difference is not a threat, difference is

natural. Difference is the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”

willing and able to engage appropriately and effectively with those who are different from us. AFS helps people develop intercultural competence by fostering knowledge, skills and attitudes that broaden our cultural perspectives. These skills are increasingly important in today’s interconnected world where we interact so widely with people from many cultures.

“When we become interculturally competent, we are more willing and able to engage appropriately and effectively with those who are different from us.”

Our AFS statement of purpose says that we help people develop the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world, and we do this by reaching out to a diverse community of global citizens determined to build bridges between cultures. As we prepare to begin our discussions today on the role of intercultural education in contributing to peace building, I cannot help remarking on the number of our distinguished speakers and guests who have done so much to work towards building a more peaceful world. Many of you are former or current AFS participants and volunteers and I believe that your presence here is not mere coincidence.

If all conflict is about difference, as Hume said, then helping people to develop intercultural competences that translate into a willingness to positively engage with others who are different from us is essential work, and that is the essential work of AFS. Thank you.

As an educational organization, AFS believes that learning about another culture through immersion in a school, family, and daily life in a community teaches us at a very human level that there is more than one way of looking at the world, more than one truth, and more than one way of being right. Intercultural learning thus helps us embrace diversity. When we become interculturally competent, we are more

AFS Intercultural Link |



ICL Field Conferences & Event Updates February


May & Beyond

Communicating in a World of Norms: Information and Communication in Contemporary Globalization 7-9 March, Lille, France IAIE International Conference 2012 15-17 February 2012: Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico Tapalewilis for Intercultural Education: sharing experiences, building alternatives http:// www.iaieveracruz. org AFS presenting.

Crossing Boundaries: Working and Communicating in the Asia Pacific Region 13-15 March; Los Angeles, CA USA Going Global 13-15 March; London, UK Intercultural Management Institute (IMI) 15-16 March, Washington DC, USA AFS attending. Forum on Education Abroad 21-23 March; Denver, CO USA International Conference on Intercultural Collaboration (ICIC) 23-25 March; Bengaluru, India Families in Global Transition 29-31 March; Alexandria

NAFSA 27 May–1 June; Houston, TX USA AFS presenting. International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies (IAICS) 8-11 June; Taiwan International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2-6 July; Sydney, Australia Summer Academy on Intercultural Experience 30 July-10 August; Karlsruhe, Germany AFS event. Register on-line.

If you are aware of upcoming conferences in the intercultural area, please advise us at


Call for Submissions

Intercultural Learning Work Group

AFS members are invited to submit proposals for articles, news items and intercultural activities with accompanying graphics or photos for consideration in future issues of AFS Intercultural Link. Submissions can be AFS-specific or part of the larger Intercultural Learning (ICL) field. Simply send your submissions to us at AFS International:

Johanna Nemeth (AUT) Rosario Gutierrez (COL) Annette Gisevius (GER) Irid Agoes (INA) Lisa Cohen (INT) Melissa Liles, Chair (INT) Lucas Welter (INT) Roberto Ruffino (ITA)

Errata: In volume 2, issue 4 of this newsletter, we wrote that Adair Linn Nagata graduated in the late 1990s from her PhD program. She actually graduated in 2003.

Questions or Comments © 2012 AFS Intercultural Programs, Inc. All rights reserved. AFS Intercultural Link |

Newsletter Editor: Melissa Liles Newsletter Manager: Manon Prévost-Mullane Design & Graphics: AFS Branding & Marketing Team Contributing Writers: Anna Collier, Elis Motta VOLUME 3 - ISSUE 1 - JANUARY/FEBRUARY/MARCH 2012 |


AFS Intercultural Link Newsletter 1/2012  

Newsletter del programa ICL link, para compartir con cualquier audiencia de AFS

AFS Intercultural Link Newsletter 1/2012  

Newsletter del programa ICL link, para compartir con cualquier audiencia de AFS