Diane Thomas Named Honorary Consul of France in Indianapolis
Congratulations to Diane Thomas, president and CEO of The International Center, who was recently named to the additional post of Honorary Consul of France in Indianapolis. The installation ceremony on March 17, 2013 was conducted by Graham Paul (left), Consul General of France in Chicago, who traveled to Indianapolis for the occasion.
Diane’s installation was witnessed by some 50 members of the French American community in Indianapolis at a private reception hosted at the home of IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz. In her role as Honorary Consul, she will assist citizens of France while visiting or living in Indiana, and will facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the United States and France.
Apartment flood without a drop of rain?
Moving from Brazil to Indianapolis, Roberta Antonialli knew the challenges of international relocation firsthand. While she and her husband were able to transition without much trouble, she tells a different story of a Brazilian friend:
In Brazil, it is customary to turn off and unplug everything before leaving your home for a few days or more. When a Brazilian friend who had moved to the U.S. in October returned to his home country in December, he did what all Brazilians do – turned off and unplugged everything, including his furnace.
When he returned, he plugged everything back in and went to work as usual. But that afternoon, he received a call saying that his house had flooded – seemingly impossible on a sunny winter day. What he learned was that, in the U.S., you never turn off your furnace in the winter because you have to have heat to protect pipes from freezing and cracking. He lost a lot of furniture and many personal items, and had another “first” as a U.S. resident – having to deal with a very angry landlord!
Roberta, who has since relocated to Chicago, enjoyed her role as a Destination Services Specialist for The International Center, and brought plenty of personal experience and empathy to her work with U.S. newcomers. “I loved my work, especially because I’ve been in my clients’ shoes. I have learned to understand the cultural differences instead of simply judging them.”
Destination Services specialists work closely with professionals and their families relocating to Indiana from other countries. Learn more under Programs & Services.
Portuguese major and Romanian editor for dinner? Must be Friday.
“Hosting State Department dinners is one of my favorite things, so of course I said yes when asked…even if the party was on Friday, and it was already Wednesday afternoon. I did my grocery shopping Thursday after work, prepared the soup and vegetables, then set the table before heading to bed. On Friday, I arrived home at 4:30 p.m. and immediately enlisted my friend Jane Gehlhausen, director of International & Cultural Affairs at City of Indianapolis, to cut flowers from the garden and arrange a few bouquets. I put the roast in the oven, cut the bread, prepared scalloped potatoes and got the vegetables ready to reheat. Meanwhile, we opened wine. If I’ve learned one thing along the way, it’s that wine is a great enabler of good conversation, so I always have plenty on hand – unless our visitors are from Muslim countries where alcohol isn’t served. “
Our interns picked up the guests and arrived promptly at six, joined by The International Center’s past Board Chair Florence May and her father. I offered drinks and conversation quickly ensued. For most of our visitors, this is their only opportunity to spend relaxed time in an American home, talking openly and asking candid questions. These guests were particularly lively and, along with the mix of ages, experiences and points of view represented in the room, it was clear we were in for some great discussion.
“The point of this program is to open up each other’s eyes to the world, in a personal way that defies the abstract images we see on television or other media,“ Diane finishes. “It’s a front row seat to U.S. foreign policy…with wine!”
To find out more about being an International Center dinner hospitality volunteer, click the Volunteer Now button.
Protocol - test your knowledge
It’s easy to forget that the American way isn’t the only way. Cultural differences in business and social customs can create unintended barriers to building strong relationships. In the example above, the American professional made four mistakes:
1. Bowing rather than offering a handshake. Like Americans, Chinese people shake hands with each other on their first meetings.
2. Hurrying through the exchange of business cards. Chinese culture dictates that you take time to examine a business card before placing it on the table or in a card case.
3. Sitting where it’s convenient rather than where you “belong.” In China, the seating arrangement often reflects social hierarchy.
4. Offering clocks or knives as gifts. While American souvenirs are good gift choices, the objects you select are important. In China, clocks are associated with funerals and death. Scissors and knives could indicate a desire to damage a relationship.
If you do business abroad or host international visitors, ask an International Center protocol specialist to help you prepare for success. Learn more under Programs and Services.
The International Center Says Thank You
The International Center is a non-profit organization that does not receive government funding. The Center relies on the generous support of its donors and recognizes the following sponsors for their substantive contributions to strengthening Indiana’s global connections.
Show your support with a tax-deductible gift. Click Donate Now.