May 2013

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May 2013

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Benefits of an International Perspective

I was recently listening to a story on the radio about how we perceive the ups and downs of life. The research being discussed spoke of the differences in which cultures perceive change by how they invested in a stock market game. The researchers gave the subjects some stock history and a pot of hypothetical money to invest. Here is where it got interesting.

Participants from western cultures invested almost completely in stocks that had been only going up over the history they were given. People from eastern cultures diversified their investments over stocks that had gone up and down. Each had to explain their choices. The western cultures tended to discuss the success they viewed in the history, so they went with success. The eastern cultures said things were cyclical, so when some go up, others go down, and they wanted a balance. Hmmmmm…

If you’ve made it this far, you may wonder, why that matters to you. Well, we as an Institute are committed to International cooperation, learning, and connections. That means working across cultures sharing not just our knowledge but learning from them as well. Cross-cultural learning impacts how we see the world and ourselves. In a nation as vast as ours, we have cross-cultural learning without leaving home.

I was amused recently at an article in our local Syracuse newspaper telling basketball fans about the culture in Atlanta, home of the Final Four and the closest major city to where I grew up. It pointed out that people in the south smile at you even if they don’t know you. That’s a cultural shift within our own nation. Bring on the shift between nations, and we expand our recognition of cultural differences even further.

International partnerships help us all as individuals grow and learn about the world and ourselves. If you’ve ever gotten to learn the methods or terminology of someone in our profession who lives and works in a different culture, you find yourself enriched. When I was teaching, a student spent the summer interning at a company abroad. When she returned, she had some new ways of organizing and managing the information for a show. I had never seen nor considered some of the methodologies, so she was able to enlighten me with what she had learned.

Later, when I got the opportunity to visit the company she had interned with, the methodologies made even more sense when placed in the context of their work environment. The student adapted skills she learned in her internship in to her style of stage management. What is more American than to have a work style that is itself a melting pot?

Sometimes we ask ourselves, why have any international aspect to USITT? We are asked if its just a large budget item that only a few people get to benefit from? The answer to those questions are simple. If we as members of the Institute learn from others in other cultures and share with those in our own, we are enriching one another’s lives.

The leadership of USITT is working to grow the opportunities for the full membership to engage with our international members and partners. Growing International attendance at the Annual Conference brings sessions from Renaissance style scenic painting to contemporary issues in White Space Spectrum Regulation.

 International schools and companies are contacting the USITT office looking for people and products in the United States because we put ourselves out as a connection to the American theatre community. This enriches all of our members since it makes them available for contacting people around the world.

International activities are a vital part of our organization. But like every other part of USITT, how you, the member, benefit from it is up to you. If you are interested in learning more about USITT and its international connections, contact me or USITT’s Vice-President for International Activities, Marketa Fantova.

David Grindle

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