(first published December 2017)
Surprising how fast the days pass by and already we have 2018 soon ahead of us. In my head, I already feel half of 2018 has already flown by. If you empathise with this statement, then maybe this is a good signal telling us to stop, focus on the present, reflect on events of the past year, where we have been and clear our heads for where we are going.
When I reflect on SIETAR in 2017, there are so many achievements we shared as a community:
- A successful congress in Dublin where around 400 participants came together to discover, learn and share. We used this fun new app called Whova (remember it’s pronounced who and then va). We rekindled friendships, heard new thoughts and perspectives, were deeply involved with layers of discussions questioning our identities and culture, laughed a bit, cried a bit and danced a bit. I think many of us would have enjoyed dancing more…
- We completed a productive webinar year, thanks to the Events and Membership Committee, thank you to the events team!
- Our Communications Committee did an excellent job in Dublin but also globally by keeping us visible and significant, thank you communications team!
- Once again, we enjoyed the insights in the SIETAR Europa , a special thanks to Patrick Schmidt.
- We launched our first SIETAR Europa (intercultural) Cookbook! Do you have a copy, if not please pre-order it here.
- Special Interests Groups (SIG) continued to work on important issues, such as the migrant challenge and integration into Europe, with new SIGs being formed.
- New SIETARs are looking at being formed, both within SIETAR Europa (requests from SIETAR Scandinavia, SIETAR Greece) and within our global community (SIETAR South Africa, SIETAR Middle East, SIETAR Chile to name a few)
- SIETAR Europa took its steps for re-structuring further and has recently posted a call within our community for a Management and Operations Head to work with our board. This person will come on board as of 2018.
Already looking forward to 2018; we have:
- Our next congress venue committee shortlisted a number of potential venues for our 2019 SIETAR Europa Congress. With the agreement of the Board, we are happy to announce the next SIETAR Europa 2019 congress will be held in Mechelen, Belgium starting on Monday 27 May and ending on Sunday 2 June 2019. As previous years, Monday 27 -Wednesday 29 May will host pre-congress workshops and Thursday 30 May – Sunday 2 June will be congress days.
- In early 2018, we will send the call for applications for congress co-ordinators and a steering committee.
- Our events and webinar series for 2018 is already on line here with a diverse and exciting new program. Thanks go all the committee team members.
- A special thanks to Barbara Covarrubias Venegas who steps down after 3.5 years as the Head of the Communications Committee. Taking her place is Carla Cabrera Cuadrado, who has worked with the Communications Committee for some time. We also welcome Steve Miller, as new IT architect of SIETAR Europa on board. See here for who’s who on our committees.
- We also say goodbye to some board members who were part of the Executive officers, a special thank you to Silvia Bessler (SIETAR Spain) and Alexander Scheitza (Special Envoy from SIETAR Germany). Our current board members are listed here.
- We were sad to lose SIETAR Bulgaria who discontinue their activities in 2018. The remaining members will once again merge back into SIETAR Europa as Direct Members.
- We also have new Direct Member elections in January 2018 and once the Direct Members are selected, the Board will elect a new Executive Officers team; comprising a new President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.
- A Management and Operations Head will join SIETAR Europa and put together a team to work on executing SIETAR Europa’s vision.
I am looking forward to continuing our task of professionalising SIETAR and making our organisation more efficient, with a clear focus on knowledge, outreach and customer orientation. The words Discover, Learn, Share speak loud and clear about the mission of SIETAR Europa.
I am often asked “What is SIETAR?” My answer is SIETAR is a community full of individuals dedicated to the intercultural field, who have a passion to make the world a better place through awareness, understanding and dialogue. SIETAR is SIETAR because of YOU; our members, because of each of you, your ability and perseverance to make a difference and maintain a community spirit. I thank you for supporting our congress, for the work you do, for continuing to keep the intercultural field important and significant. If you are able to participate in taking forward our mandate, please join one of our committees or submit an application to our different calls for volunteers. We welcome your active participation.
Not only am I thankful to our members, I am very thankful to be working with a talented and committed SIETAR Europa board. We plan to have our annual face to face board meeting in March 2018, possibly in Mechelen, which also gives us the opportunity to see our 2019 congress venue.
I have served on the SIETAR Europa board from 2013 as a Direct Member representative and since 2015 as the SIETAR Europa President. It has been an honour to serve SIETAR Europa and to be more active in the organisational and strategic development of SIETAR Europa. Within whichever capacity; as a member or board member, I look forward to 2018, to continuing our dialogues and to meeting you somewhere in the world. In the meantime, I and the SIETAR Europa Board take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season and new year.
President SIETAR Europa