January 2017 – Catherine’s Intercultural World in Review

For a while, I’ve wanted to write a monthly roundup of my intercultural world. January 2017 calls for it: America’s new president makes global headlines day after day, my blog has a new look, and my family gained two new members. Are you ready for my monthly review?

Yippee! Finally, the redesign of my blog is complete! Did you notice the changes? Now, it looks more modern and is easier to navigate. Sometimes, I think my blog is my favorite child because it never complains. But, like any child, you have to invest time and money to make it happy and healthy. About 4,000 people visit month after month, so thank you so much for sharing and commenting. My next step is to encourage you to come back regularly and to subscribe!

In this context, I’m proud to have been invited by Diane, an American blogger who lives in France, to write a guest post for her blog, OuiInFrance. In that post, I’ve shared what my early months in the USA were like. You’re welcome to read it and leave a comment here.

A sad event in my private life

On a personal note, my family is going through a sad, challenging, but now exciting phase. My husband’s ex passed away in Germany this month, and his children have relocated to Maryland with us a few days ago. Of course, this has had a huge impact on everyone, and it’s also why I’m late posting my weekly blog. My family now includes five children, two boys and three girls ages five to 17, all of whom are perfect Third-Culture kids.

Third culture kid (TCK) [is] used to refer to children raised in a culture other than their parents’ (or the culture of the country given on the child’s passport, where they are legally considered native) for a significant part of their early development years.
Source: Wikipedia

While my husband and I were born and raised in France, my three children were born in Germany. My husband’s children were born in Venezuela and moved with us to Germany at ages six and eight. In 2013, they stayed in Germany with their mom when we moved to the States.

Our three oldest speak at least two languages fluently and are able to make small talk in the others (just pick between German, French, Spanish, and English). And yes, of course, my husband and I are also fluent in the same languages (although to be honest, Spanish is my weakest language!).

Our family is truly multicultural, and I personally don’t feel like I really “belong” anywhere anymore. I’m French in my heart, work like a German, and live in the States with children from different cultures. If this is confusing for me, imagine how my step-children feel right now.

How has the new president impacted my intercultural life?

I have been dealing with intercultural challenges all my life. In my business, I contribute to my clients’ success by helping them to overcome cultural differences between the US, France, and Germany. Currently, my clients are not sure what to think about President Trump.

On one hand, they are respectful of his function and title: the President of the United States is the leader of one the most powerful countries in the world. In this role, he has a lot of power, and every decision is scrutinized on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

On the other hand, my clients don’t take Trump seriously as he makes headline after headline in their local media. Here are just a few examples that I’ve noticed since inauguration.

Leading European media posted pictures from the inauguration. Compared to Obama’s record audience in 2009, the Mall looked pretty empty last Friday. White House Press Secretary Spencer’s inaccurate claim about the official figures made it to Europe, and so did the “alternative facts” comment from advisor Conway.

Yesterday, US officials confirmed to CBS News that President Trump brought supporters to his speech at the CIA headquarters.

Meanwhile, it’s difficult for my clients, family, and friends to understand the American Electoral College. For weeks, I’ve been asked why Trump could win the election with almost 3 million fewer votes than Clinton.

Finally, the Women’s March had a huge resonance in both traditional and social European media. I guess that today’s Greenpeace activists who climbed on a crane and unfurled a sign saying “Resist” near the White House would be reported similarly through the media.

Resist

European artists and caricaturists comment on President Trump

France had Nicolas Sarkozy, and Italy had Silvio Berlusconi. The first was featured in his own graphic novel a few years into his presidency. Already, Donald Trump is a great source of inspiration all over Europe. The tweet pictured below was censored by Twitter. Fortunately, younger artists’ Trump-like snowman can be admired without being censured.

I laughed a lot at this one from the Netherlands, a country in Western Europe slightly larger than Maryland.

For my part, I’m tired of the repetitive headlines from the American newspapers I read. Too often, the Washington Post and New York Times make headlines that are not worth it. In my opinion, their job is to report real news, not anecdotal evidence.

Real news in an intercultural world

Finishing on a positive note

I couldn’t believe it when I read that a meter of snow fell in the Sahara desert! A month after the largest desert on the planet experienced the first snowfall in nearly 40 years, snow has returned in greater volume. (Read more here: A meter of snow fell in the Sahara desert.)

Also, I realized yesterday that the Super Bowl is coming. I love this big American event since I first became familiar with the rules of American football. Last year, my husband prepared yummy chicken wings, and we spent a few hours in front of the TV enjoying sports and commercials. This year, we’ll somehow fit all seven of us in the family room!

Banque Populaire and Armel le Cléach

Finally, last week I enjoyed the finish of the Vendée Globe, the hardest solo sailing race in the world (non-stop around the world, without assistance).

This reminded me how much I appreciate living in 2017 in a place with high-speed internet. Thanks to new technology, I was able to watch French leader Armel Le Cléach crossing the finish line in Les Sables D’Olonne, France on my tablet. His time sets a new record for the race, beating the previous record by three days and Jules Verne’s 80 days around the world by six.

What about you? How was your first month of the year?

 

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2 Comments

  • The new look of your blog is a great improvement! I enjoyed reading it more than ever. I welcome the arrival of your two “new” children to America…the more people we can welcome from other countries and cultures, the richer we will be. Also, the wisdom from your family’s heritage and countries-of-origin will certainly help America navigate in the years ahead as we face more and more complex issues with, alas, a current leader who does not have Critical Thinking Skills. This time next year, I hope your news will be about how well all 5 of your children have done adjusting to their newly integrated family living in America, and mostly, I hope you are still in YOUR RIGHT MIND! I am happily one of your 4000 followers.

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