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mid-week Connect: 4/20/22 ~ Cross-Cultural Permission

Greetings and Happy Midweek,

I have been interested in a number of stories in the news recently about “cultural appropriation”. Perhaps you have noticed some too…or perhaps, as you’ve sought to integrate in a cross-cultural context, you have experienced something like what is being described in these situations.

One of the pillars of our Global SKILLs cross-cultural training has always been integration in the Host community with the PROACTive strategy of “collaboration” at its core.* Since one definition of ‘appropriation’ is “the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission”, let’s explore this topic together through the dynamics of collaborative permission.**

My desire and goal over many years has been to ‘fit in’ where-ever I am. Be it in the village or in an urban setting - among friends or at a professional gathering, I’ve sought to dress respectfully, and to act and interact appropriately. These intentions include having permission (to be accepted and heard and ‘integrated’) versus not having permission (to remain an outsider, behaving in unacceptable ways).

I realize in seeking permission as I live and work cross-culturally, one of my go-to resources has been my dear friend Aida who, for almost 40 years now, has guided me into her Jola culture. The integrative dynamics involved in this journey have transitioned from checking my every action and every spoken word early on - toward the comfort level we now share, often laughing together as we process how far - or not - I’ve come. And I can see in this context, the permission which undergirds our relationship, is actually a two-way agreement: I have her permission to ask and to act on her input, and she has my permission to honestly respond and to accept or to reject my choices. How’s that for collaboration?! Enough, I hope, to avoid appropriation as best as I can.

How about you ~ what’s one strategy you’ve used to effectively avoid cultural appropriation?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for a few additional perspectives on appropriation.

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,


* PROACTive Learning Strategies: PRO = PROfile, PROcess, PROgram

ACT = Application, Collaboration (which we looked at today) and Transformation

~ contact me for more information on these strategies and how you might use them in your current programming

Global SKILLs LINKs: Appropriation, or at least accusations that it’s happening, come in many different domains and contexts…what do you think about these?

And here’s a rounding out of the definition of appropriation = food for thought, and future Connect topics!

2022 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

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