February 2017
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Ramin Yazdanpanah, ICIS Incoming Chair, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

As the incoming chair, I have the opportunity to prepare the vision statement for the 2017 year. These are dynamic times that we are living in that will surely bring change in global, national, and local contexts. Change is often accompanied by both trepidation of the unknown and motivation to step up and meet the challenges ahead. Each of us has experienced this within our own lives, often coming out stronger and wiser for it. It is clear that our work as intercultural (IC) educators is greatly needed perhaps now more than ever within our professional contexts, TESOL, and larger communities. ICIS will continue to advocate for greater IC awareness and competence within our field and in classrooms globally. 

TESOL presents as one of its core values, “Respect for diversity, multilingualism, multiculturalism, and individuals’ language rights” (n.d.). In order to meet this core value, we must step beyond theoretical discussions of culture and diversity by engaging in actual experiences with individuals of different cultures, identities, and perspectives. Participating in nonjudgmental and synergetic discussions about beliefs and behaviors, as well as connections between culture, teaching, and learning, are effective ways to develop understanding of these complex relationships (Romano & Cushner, 2007). One of our core missions this year will be to play a key role in facilitating intercultural exchanges between TESOL members fulfilling the mission, purpose, and goals of ICIS.

It is also critical for ICIS members to understand that the sustainability of our interest section depends entirely on participation from our members, particularly our leadership positions. As the current Chair Maxi-Ann Campbell discusses in her article, membership within ICIS provides numerous benefits and opportunities for professional growth and networking. I hope this year we can continue to inspire participation and create opportunities toward professional development for our members.

In closing, we must remain optimistic that the values of dialogue, acceptance, and cooperation can bridge divisions between cultures, races, religions, and political views. In the words of one of the world’s greatest teachers, Martin Luther King Jr., “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” (Washington State University, n.d.).


Romano, R., & Cushner, K. (2007). Reflections on the importance and value of the overseas student-teaching experience. In K. Cushner & S. Brennan (Eds.), Intercultural student teaching: A bridge to global competence (pp. 215–225). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

TESOL International Association. (n.d.). Mission and values. Retrieved from https://www.tesol.org/about-tesol/association-governance/mission-and-values

Washington State University. (n.d.). Famous quotes on nonviolence. Retrieved from https://mlk.wsu.edu/about-dr-king/famous-quotes/

Ramin Yazdanpanah is the director of TEFL Program at Florida State University. A visionary with a global perspective, Ramin strives to apply effective and creative methods to learning and teaching, with the goal of developing greater understanding of ourselves and others. Ramin is completing his PhD in international and comparative education, with a focus on intercultural competence training in ESL contexts. You can also catch him playing didgeridoo and cajon in his band the Maharajah Flamenco Trio, as well as at TESOL conventions.

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