In September 2016, the president of SIETAR Austria (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research), Barbara Covarrubias Venegas , invited me to attend a workshop in Vienna. As a training facilitator, I was very curious about the topic “Low Budget, High Impact: Diversity and Intercultural Training” since I was looking for new tools and methods how to develop the intercultural competence of my clients. The workshop was facilitated by Tatyana Fertelmeyster who was unknown to me at that time. After first couple of minutes of the workshop I was totally impressed by all her experience and the huge knowledge she was sharing with us. But one information resonated with me more than the others. She was very highly speaking of the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC), about the strong sense of community there and about her experience as a fellow which was a life changing experience. Right after the workshop I looked for more information about SIIC and the Intercultural Communication Institute who organizes this event in Portland, Oregon, every July and decision was taken – I have applied for the 2017 fellow program.
When the workshops for SIIC 2017 were announced I had a serious dilemma which of them to choose since the offer was very rich. Each of the four weeks were packed with extremely interesting workshops facilitated by leading scholars in the intercultural field. I had to clearly define which of the workshops would bring added value to clients of our education company Cultural Bridge. And I was very pleased when Janet Bennett, the executive director of the Intercultural Communication Institute called to inform me about being selected as a fellow and confirmed I would be assigned to those workshops I had selected with the highest priority: Foundations of Intercultural Coaching and Training Design for Intercultural Learning.
When I arrived at the beautiful campus of the prestigious Reed college in Portland I met the other 37 fellows from all over the world, all of them beautiful souls of very diverse backgrounds. Under the guidance of great Gordon Watanabe we started studying Personal Leadership, a powerful behavioral method which is perfectly applicable to multicultural and diverse teams. It did help us, the team of 38 very diverse individuals from all corners of the globe, to work as one team and make the SIIC 2017 a success.
During the whole month of July, I was attending fantastic workshops and evening classes where I could learn from the best in the field. I have acquired a very precious knowledge that will help me offering even better development programs to our clients. I met hundreds of inspiring people who flew in from dozens of countries with the aim to make this world a bit better place through the intercultural education. I have enlarged my professional network which is opening the doors to some interesting international projects. I have made plenty of new friends. And I have lived an unforgettable intercultural summer.