An Interview with breidi Truscott Roberts

“I signed up for the SIIC Fellows program to benefit my professional life and yet had no idea before attending that it would completely enhance my personal life as well.  I have made a handful of truly life-long friends at SIIC who are part of my closest circle now.”

  My name is breidi Truscott Roberts (yes, lower case “b”) and I’m from Northern California in the U.S.  In fact, I’m actually 5th generation Californian on one side of my family.  That said, I have lived many other places too.

Describe an important intercultural experience in your life.

An important intercultural experience in my life was living in Chiapas, Mexico while pursuing my MA in Intercultural Relations from the School for International Training.  I was down there doing my practicum and interviewing Zapatista women for my capstone project.  It was an amazing experience and a challenging one from a linguistic and intercultural perspective.  While I speak Spanish, many of the indigenous women did not (rather they spoke languages like Tzeltal and Tzotzil).  Plus, I was adjusting – not only to living in another country – but a completely different, rural, agrarian community.  I was trying to bridge gaps in culture, gender, class, education level, age, language – it was fun and challenging!

Which institutes have you attended? 

I have attended SIIC almost every year since 2008 and WIIC since 2014.  Next stop: QIIC!

Which programs have you participated in?

Fellows and Rinterns. I was a Fellow in 2008. I heard from so many professionals in the intercultural field that I had to try out SIIC sometime. In 2008 I finally got the time off work to be able to attend. A colleague who had been a Fellow the year before recommended the program to me.  I was excited to be part of that special community and I enjoy helping while learning – I guess I like “servant leadership.”  The financial arrangement also made it easier for me to attend.  I have been coming back as a Rintern every year since that time save for one summer (and I missed it only because I was living in New Zealand!)

Which have been your favorite workshops or instructors?

Oh there are just too many favorites to say them all! So I’ll just mention three: I absolutely adore Lee Gardenswartz, Anita Rowe, and Jorge Cherbosque. I took their Emotional Intelligence and Diversity workshop one of my first years at SIIC and totally fell in love with the material and the facilitators. They have also become good friends of mine over the years!

How has attending ICI’s programs benefitted your professional life?

Taking new workshops each July at SIIC and March at WIIC I get to constantly update the material that I use as an intercultural trainer. It’s one of my ways of staying on top of what’s “latest and greatest” in the intercultural field. As a result of this exposure to new methods I have also been able to get certified in a number of different tools and methodologies. Plus, I have built many relationships with other professionals over the years. I love that I can call upon these colleagues to bounce ideas off of, to help me become clear on something, and to grow as a professional.  These relationships have also led to new clients and collaborations on conference presentations.

How has attending ICI’s programs benefitted your personal life?

It’s funny that I signed up for the SIIC Fellows program to benefit my professional life and yet had no idea before attending that it would completely enhance my personal life as well.  I have made a handful of truly life-long friends at SIIC who are part of my closest circle now.  Plus, going back year after year I feel like I have a second home in July each summer – it feels like “my” community!

Describe the SIIC experience to those that have not attended?

I have often heard SIIC described as “summer camp for grown-ups.”  It’s more than that, though.  It is a rich learning environment where participants, fellows, faculty all mingle together in workshops, at lunch, at evening socials to discuss important topics, share ideas, and also just have fun together.  It definitely feels more cozy than a conference, though, and sleeping on a school campus lends itself to the camp-like feel.  It’s kind of like Brigadoon – that mythical city that surfaces every once in a while – only this magical community happens every summer.

How are you currently using your intercultural knowledge?

I use my intercultural knowledge, awareness, and skills daily at my work at International House Berkeley.  We have 600 residents living here from 60 countries and just walking down the hallway can be an intercultural experience!   The bulk of what I do, though, is to lead workshops for staff who work at UC Berkeley on how to work more effectively across cultures, so I’m constantly putting my intercultural learning to use.

ICI would like to thank breidi for being our first blog participant. If you would like to share your experiences and be featured on the ICI blog, please send us an email at ici@intercultural.org