SIETAR Japan members and friends,
It has been 38 years since SIETAR Japan was founded in 1985 as a branch of the International Society for Intercultural Training, Education and Research (SIETAR), headquartered in the US. We will be celebrating our 40th anniversary in 2025. Since 1998, SIETAR USA, SIETAR Europa, SIETAR Japan and other SIETARs in the world function independently instead of as one SIETAR International, but all SIETARs are connected in a global network, and share a basic goal: SIETAR supports anyone regardless of differences in age, social status, physical/mental challenges, sexual identity/orientation and occupation (including but not limited to education, government, business, medicine, international aid, conflict resolution, counseling, and art). Each SIETAR provides fun and inspiring opportunities to learn from each other and deepen understanding of intercultural communication, putting this commitment to diversity into practice to contribute to peace-making efforts all over the world. SIETAR Japan shares this goal. When I was elected President in April 2023, I inherited a box of SIETAR Japan documents and found the first issue of our Newsletter (1989). Professor Kichiro Hayashi, Aoyama University Professor Emeritus and the third President of SIETAR Japan wrote then that one of the goals for SIETAR Japan is “to make SIETAR a place of peace and comfort as well as providing a place for beneficial exchanges of understandings/research on intercultural communication for the members.”
Dr. Hayashi’s specialization is international management, and he is also a renowned business consultant. I have pondered upon the reasons why he used the phrase, “place of peace and comfort,” for a professional organization such as SIETAR. In my personal view, I think he wanted to emphasize the need for SIETAR Japan to function as a place where all the members could “practice” our research and experiences to “leverage differences and thrive together” as members.
There sometimes is divergence between the researchers and the practitioners in SIETAR. I feel that any practitioner has done research to improve their practices, and any researcher must have applied their research on intercultural communication in the workplace/in their daily lives. In other words, everyone is both a researcher and practitioner. Accordingly, then, it makes sense to have a place for constructive, interdisciplinary and interprofessional dialogue and exchanges where we can learn from each other. SIETAR Japan aims to be a model organization for DEIB（Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging）, demonstrating the United Nation’s SDG of “Leave No One Behind.” Our members are diverse, and our organization is inclusive. Our programs are bilingual, and members welcome each other with a sense of peace, comfort, belonging and inspiration that comes from true inclusion. I have always appreciated and respected the professionalism of our members with a deep sense of gratitude. I hope that we can continue to work together as intercultural specialists to help the world achieve the SIETAR goals above.
I also would like to share my personal experience with SIETAR. When I just started a career as an intercultural consultant and coach, I joined SIETAR International, and attended activities in the Washington DC chapter. There were many established practitioners and researchers leading the field at the time, but they all welcomed me despite my newcomer status, age, and nationality, and taught me many valuable things that I still use at work. I have continued to learn from SIETAR Japan members. SIETAR Japan indeed has given me the opportunities for professional learning and a place for peace, comfort and inspiration with the members who share visions and goals that Prof. Hayashi aspired for the organization. I am most grateful for the members and all the leaders who have served on the SIETAR Steering Committee in the past.
The world now faces a lot of challenges, including military conflicts, environmental problems, and economic problems. In the “rough” water, I believe it is the time for SIETAR members to reach out further to share our spirit and actions – what we can do for the world as intercultural specialists. I look forward to continuing learning from you all and hope that we can work together to help SIETAR Japan continue to provide a place where we can exchange professional wisdom with fun and the space for everyone to feel a sense of peace, belonging and inspiration.
Kaoru YAMAMOTO, SIETAR Japan President