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Empathy and solidarity

-Shawn Simpson, Agence Iter France

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The 3rd ITERcultural seminar organized by the Agence Iter France and ITER Organization took place on Friday 9 September.

Eighty-five members of the ITER Organization and their spouses participated in workshops that explored the experience of expatriation and intercultural adaptation. Representatives from ITER Administration and Human Ressources and from Agence Iter France were present; these groups will work closely together to implement the key messages of the workshops into the welcome and integration process of ITER staff and their families arriving from abroad.
 
Moving to another country is never an easy journey. As Leslie Ray, one of the workshop facilitators, said: "Cultural adaptation is a process, not an event."

Cultural adaptation takes time and always starts with culture shock. Every individual goes through different steps and many participants evoked feelings of vulnerability, pain, or even depression, while recognizing that some of their expectations prior to arrival may have been unrealistic.

On this date so close to 11 September, which reminded the participants of 11 March 2011 in Japan and 11 September 2001 in the US, thoughts turned to those who had been affected by the terrible events. With workshop facilitator Hiroatsu Nohara, participants attempted to understand the experience of being far from one's country and relatives when such dreadful events occur.

Empathy and solidarity took on their true meaning during these discussions.


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