I heard Patti Digh say once that we give up our power to the very people who took it away from us in the first place. Who has the authority to grant permission? That depends on your culture and your perception of who's in charge. Mostly in the West, when it comes to kids, parent(s) or the legal guardian has that power and right to justly care, manage and supervise another person in a fair and humane way, where rights are pretty much protected. Yet, in some Eastern cultures where men are traditionally in positions of power and authority have this right, not only over children but also over adult women. I don't believe this is an equitable distribution of power, nor is it a helpful attitude in developing nations where many factors already put women and children at a disadvantage.

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover. Yes, I was born into an Eastern family, but culturally I was raised American, with a values orientation that points West. It's a mindset that favors free will, openness, practicality, self-reliance, directness and healthy competition. No one, I repeat, no one, has the authority to lord over me and treat me like their property. I am not chattel. No one owns me. Not my father. Not my dear husband and certainly not my brothers. I may look "Arab" but that's just skin color and facial features, but that's the "evident culture" that sits above the water line. Deep below, you will find my true colors are "all-American," and that's where the hidden dimensions of culture lie. This is what makes me tick. While we are a composite of personality, country of origin and ethnicity, in a flat world, we don't realize that it's what you can't see: our values, attitudes, perceptions, deep cultural tendencies and expectations -- that are not only taken for granted, they are hugely misunderstood and at the root of misconceptions, bias, and outright conflict.

In Pakistan, although women's rights are largely defined (and derived) by religious and tribal customs, I think tribal customs or traditional practices are to blame for women's inequality. It's no secret according to the actual Islamic principles, not the ones interpreted by power-hungry men, that women have equal rights, but we will never be able to take advantage of those rights unless they are enforced social, politically and economically from the top down. What's behind this power is the notion of the notion of namus (face/honor) is the single most important underlying factor driving their national behavior. It's central to understanding what makes these men tick. They don't want to risk making a bad choice, or looking bad, or being ridiculed for an unmanageable wife and family publicly.

Baby, You Can Drive My Car (and Other Drivers)

Girls are raised according to these dimensions of culture with the expectation of a life that can seem like nothing more than a series of compromises. Yet, like many women around the world, while I'm personally comfortable with assuming the role of family caregiver, I also presume the rights and responsibilities that come with this position: Namely, the right to a just and humane existence along with personal sovereignty and dignity. Being a wife and mother should not be mutually exclusive of human rights.

The roots of this power play between men and women in Pakistan, especially in rural areas, goes back centuries. Women continue to be segregated from men (as in many Eastern cultures). They live in purdah, which means "curtain" in Urdu -- completely separate from men. The only contact they have with men is with members of the immediate family. In these areas, everyday tasks which involve leaving the house, like shopping, are carried out by men. Women's work involves staying behind to clean, cook and raise children. However, many Pakistani women go out to work these days and are increasingly experiencing more levels of equality with men. Life varies dramatically between regions of Pakistan. A more liberal middle class plays an important role in the big cities, where conditions differ greatly from those in rural areas, which are far more traditional. The area in the northwest, bordering Afghanistan, dominated by tribal customs, is extremely conservative and very traditional with a self-styled strict adherence to Islam favored by the Taliban.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, although women were previously forbidden from voting or being elected to political office, King Abdullah declared that women will be able to vote and run in the local elections and be appointed to the Consultative Assembly come 2015. Yet, the most recent act of rebellion came by car. Manal al-Sharif, a women's rights activist from Saudi Arabia helped start a women's right to drive campaign in 2011 because Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. Enabling mobility can only empower women who make up nearly 20 percent of the country's workforce. The World Economic Forum 2009 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Saudi Arabia 130th out of 134 countries for gender parity. It was the only country to score a zero in the category of political empowerment.

The ongoing battle of the sexes is being played out in different stages in different cultures. Each one is working through deeply held-notions of who is in charge and why, by whose authority and at what price. It's not so much the notion of independence (of women) that seems to be at issue with traditional cultures so much as the loss of face (by men) when the power shift happens. Santosh Kalwar said, "a strong gives forgiveness but weak gives permission." My advice to the men who uphold traditional misogynistic practices that were created by and for them is to seek to be advisors, not grantors of permission. Therein lays your power.

It's the kind of power reflected in the upcoming documentary, Sweet Dreams Rwanda. The women depicted are so resilient and powerful. It seems they can deal with the worst situations often without an education or resources, and yet they are able to stand up for themselves to improve their lives and the lives of others -- thus improving the overall health, welfare and economy of their nation. It's a lesson we can learn from for a more just and peaceful world.



As Chris Cuomo and Alyson Camerota questioned Carly Fiorina about her electability, I couldn’t help but wonder, while we think we're progressive when it comes empowering women, why aren't we progressing?What invisible forces account for the incongruity that sixty-three of 142 nations studied by the World Economic Forum have a female head of government or state at some point in the 50 years up to 2014, except the USA?


Giving women all over the world a voice is empowering in ways we cannot imagine. It fosters the Girl Effect so that when we listen to them, we change their social conditions. This is crucial to solving the most persistent development problems we face in the world today. When we include girls in education, health and economic investment we have a better chance of preventing issues such as child marriage, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty. Girls can't do this alone though. They need the world to listen to them and invest in their potential.

This is also part of the United Nations Millennium Goals to promote gender equality and empower women to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education. And there is none as valuable as freedom of speech.

Once they are free to speak, and be heard, women and girls can become empowered as described in Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by husband-and-wife Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn who argued that "the key to economic progress in the world lies in unleashing women's potential."

Pakistan is my country of origin and its first female fighter pilot, Ayesha Farooq fought her mother to pursue her dream and realize her potential. She is quoted as saying "In our society most girls don't even think about doing things as flying an aircraft," and I feel very proud of her courage which will have lasting empowering effects for other girls who dare to dream these seemingly impossible dreams. Yet, with these significant social changes, I can't help but wonder, as she is lifted from the intergenerational cycle of silence and powerlessness, what are the cultural implications? In Pakistan or the Eastern Society as I was raised to be quiet and obedient. I couldn't speak my mind or express my opinions because it was considered rude (badtameezi) or aggressive behavior. I was told "girls don't behave like this."

Today, in many cultures, from decision making to shopping, an unmarried woman needs permission from her father; a married women needs permission from her husband; and a widow needs permission from her brother. Many girls also do not have a voice in their own about who they choose to marry and when because they are still subject to the traditional practice of arranged marriage.

I am constantly reminded of this when my women friends and relatives tell me how lucky I am that my husband allows me to have my own career and make my own decisions. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. He's very supportive of me, my decisions, and my career. He's also helpful when it comes to participating fully as a partner in our family so that we can both accomplish our career goals without sacrificing the needs of our family. Since these are only cultural values, they are learned behavior which means they can be unlearned and the cycle of social oppression can be broken.

By comparison, women in the Middle East may undergo the issue more, but they are not alone. After reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg -- in which she examines why women's progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential -- This is about women's rights, worldwide. She gave a perspective of what woman are capable of if they are given the chance, and how men can benefit by supporting them in allowing them the right to speak up and be heard. Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women's voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. Astonishing.

In 2010, Sheryl gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to "sit at the table," seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.



Maybe I should be fearful. Heck, I was born and raised in Pakistan. To some, that's reason enough to be afraid, but I accept that in a post 9/11 America, my country conjures up all kinds of misconceptions and contradictions. To be fair though, what country is without them? What if I told you that Pakistan the most urbanized country in Asia? Or that English is the official language of business? Would you still be fearful of Pakistan or me for that matter?

I am a walking contradiction, but isn't the globalized world all about turning old notions upside down? I credit much of my fearlessness to being educated at a boarding school where I was exposed to the Western value of independence. If independence is one of the key dimensions of the Western mindset, then fearlessness is the byproduct. I am also the result of an utter yin-yang upbringing that was both rich in traditional Eastern values and progressive optimism, thanks to my parents, who were visionaries, despite their generation and beliefs. They believed I would benefit from a Western-style education. So in 1974, I was sent to St. Deny's all-girls Christian boarding school run by the British Missionary Group of Himalayan Schools. In 2010 it was burnt down by Islamic militants because it was smack dab in the perilous area of Murree; and, it shared a nearby border with the equally dangerous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which lacked any strong check posts.

Maybe I should be fearful. Heck, I was born and raised in Pakistan. To some, that's reason enough to be afraid, but I accept that in a post 9/11 America, my country conjures up all kinds of misconceptions and contradictions. To be fair though, what country is without them? What if I told you that Pakistan the most urbanized country in Asia? Or that English is the official language of business? Would you still be fearful of Pakistan or me for that matter?

I am a walking contradiction, but isn't the globalized world all about turning old notions upside down? I credit much of my fearlessness to being educated at a boarding school where I was exposed to the Western value of independence. If independence is one of the key dimensions of the Western mindset, then fearlessness is the byproduct. I am also the result of an utter yin-yang upbringing that was both rich in traditional Eastern values and progressive optimism, thanks to my parents, who were visionaries, despite their generation and beliefs. They believed I would benefit from a Western-style education. So in 1974, I was sent to St. Deny's all-girls Christian boarding school run by the British Missionary Group of Himalayan Schools. In 2010 it was burnt down by Islamic militants because it was smack dab in the perilous area of Murree; and, it shared a nearby border with the equally dangerous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which lacked any strong check posts.

Call me an optimist, but if history is any indication about the fearlessness of my people, then positive change is on the horizon, if not happening right now. Peshawar was once a major center of enlightened Buddhist learning in the 2nd century CE. It was also a central trading center at the busy intersection of the Silk Road; where East met, bought, sold and traded with the West. Despite current events, not only does nothing stay the same, but thanks to globalization, it doesn't stay the same for long. Right now, a deep historical legacy of progressive ideas is drilling through these hard scrabble mountain villages with democracy with the likes of Imran Khan. The youth support him and that he said, was his victory, despite losing the election on 14 May 2013. His party swept the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the elections, I think, with a little help from the area's enlightened history.

Passionate, loyal, hospitable, and proud: American or Pakistani traits?

The Western ways are tantamount to my Eastern ones, even if that fiercely independent American mindset may seem to run counter to my Pakistani one (if not to human nature!). But then again, there's been a certain kind of love-hate relationship with West and Pakistanis have always trouble reconciling it. I read somewhere that because people are born dependent and connected to others, American independence may be hard to understand. I understand that it's not only desirable, but necessary. I get it. Their independence may be perceived as "selfish" to others, but I know from experience from an immigrant family that it's rooted in self-reliance. Ironically, it is precisely this unlikely aspect of the American mindset that glues such a big country together. It's what unites them.

Still, you've got to understand that Pakistanis -- who are like 85 percent of the rest of the world -- because they are relationship-oriented, or Collectivists. Not Individualists, or like Americans. Social networking doesn't count. If you want to know what makes them tick, you've got to really, really understand our strong need to form personal relationships. For example, when it comes to business, a Pakistani seeks to build trust in order to do business. For Americans, this is frustrating because this takes time. And for them, it's the other way around. Trust happens later, as a consequence of business, or what we call a track record.

Margaret Mead said (with irony I'm sure) that because of their age-long training in human relations, women have a special contribution to make to any group enterprise. When my father joined the World Bank in 1982, we immigrated to the United States and settled of course in Washington, D.C. Finally, I thought, I will have the freedom of choice and speech I need. As much as I love my culture, let's face it, the gender gap is huge. Men are in charge, so speaking your mind as a woman is just not done. The Peshawar province does not mean the "city of men" in Sanskrit for nothing. Little did I know that's I would have to be fearless and make life or death decisions, despite what I knew about eastern ways.

I refused to accept an arranged marriage and I married for love. Although my husband is Indian, he is neither from Pakistan, nor was he from the same religion which caused problems, but we overcame them. Since 1988, I have raised our four beautiful children and fearlessly followed my dream to have my own business. In 2007, an opportunity came along, and within a year, I established IKG Global Consultants in four countries including the U.S., UK, Canada and Singapore. My company provides international and domestic relocation services, destination services, human resource services, global payroll management and supply chain management, as well as supplier assessment and sourcing.

Since I worked with people from different backgrounds and cultures, traveling was never been an issue, but in June 2010 my father fell very ill and my courage was tested. Looking back, I feel proud of the strength God granted me to handle and accomplish something my father felt so proud about, not that he wasn't already proud of my accomplishments or my fearless personality.

In 2010 my dad was working in Yemen on a project for GOPA, a German development consulting firm that was developing and building a secondary education system for the young girls of tribal Yemen in coordination with the Yemini Ministry of Education. If these girls had access to education they could avoid the traditional practice of early childhood marriage. This work would have wide-ranging effects, not only on their health and welfare, but on that of their community and beyond. This has been an ongoing global problem that I am very concerned about because 10 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year, many as young as eight. In developing countries, one in every three girls marries before they are 18. Economically, an increase of only 1 percent in girls secondary education attendance, adds 0.3 percent to a country's GDP.

According to the World Health Organization complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women. Young girls who marry later and delay pregnancy beyond their adolescence have more chances to stay healthier, to better their education and build a better life for themselves and their families. So for me, since women's rights are a constant matter of discussion in Pakistan, it was important to contribute something positive to the emancipation of disadvantaged women, no matter where they are from.

Women do not always experience equality with men in Pakistan, but this is changing. Women's education has not been a priority in the past, but many more women are entering the labor force even though the majority of their jobs is often below the "threshold of decency." The situation is better in urban areas. Of course, I was the exception and I was able to work in what is considered the most coveted kind of position for an ambitious Pakistani woman -- with a multinational company where there is a chance for progression. Pakistan did, of course, have a female prime minister in Benazir Bhutto, and has had four other prominent female politicians, but each of these inherited their political career from their husbands/fathers and later became politicians in their own right.

Fear may be scary, but it's a powerful motivator. In June 2010, I got a call from Yemen that my dad was in the hospital on the project with a serious lung infection. I flew there in couple of days and my dad was not only relieved to see me but his condition had improved and he was released from the hospital. We made arrangements that he would rest at home and recover. Meanwhile, I planned to go back to the states and return soon to be with him. As soon as I landed in New York, I got a call from his wife that he was being taken back to the hospital. He had a heart attack. His kidneys were failing. I immediately had to get on the next flight back to Dubai and then on to Yemen. My dad was in the ICU at a Yemen hospital, a very male dominated society where people accept a hierarchical order. Everybody accepts their place and this behavior needs no further justification. Power is also very centralized and subordinates -- meaning women and children -- expect to be told what to do by the "benevolent dictator." A man.

By all accounts, I was Pakistani looking on the outside, but I am all American on the inside. Needless to say I had to dial back the I-am-women thing. I had to dress more modestly, headscarf and all according to tradition because I had to assert myself and become the decision maker for when it came to the health and welfare of my dad.

I spent hours at the ICU with my dad who was hardly conscious. I had to use various meditative and musical therapies to help me maintain my hope and buffer me against this chauvinistic Middle Eastern culture of doctors as my father's advocate. Fearlessly, I persuaded them not to do any surgeries or procedures because I wanted him to be treated in a hospital in the west. I made arrangements with the help of my dad's employers and health insurance agency in Germany to airlift my father from Yemen to Frankfurt. It took me five days to make it all happen and finally, on July 1, my Dad's birthday, I gave him the good news that we were flying out of Yemen in an air ambulance with a doctor on board to boot. We went through the required procedures and after ten days he was able to fly back to the U.S. on a commercial flight.

This experience gave me such a sense of accomplishment and triumph because I was able to help save my dad's life. I was brave and fearless in a country where women have to work so hard to earn their place and prove their worth; where their health and welfare is rarely considered. I was not only heard, but I spoke for a male elder in a position of authority.

Being fearless means not only stepping out of my comfort zone, but also persuading others to step out of theirs too. It means advocating for my rights and that of others, like my dad and for the human right of girls. It's about having a voice. It's about being heard and respected. It means having the courage to do what I have to, especially for the sake of justice, decency, and human rights.




The boundary between what is custom and what is law, differs from culture to culture. The lines can become blurred without our knowledge and when that happens, the laws of human nature nearly guarantee a collision. My name is Iram Ganju, and I ought to know because I personally experienced the implications of these two ways of determining right from wrong while I was caring for my Dad again, this time in a US hospital in 2012. Though my cultural mindset GPS was set to the "American mindset" I didn't realize that during this period of personal stress how easily it reverted back to what is familiar to me and unconsciously, it defaulted back to my "Pakistani mindset." While both settings are a result of learned behavior, I was surprised to realize, that after living a Westernized life for nearly all my adult life, how unconsciously my Pakistani ways of relating, regulating and reasoning kicked in.

We don't know who discovered water, but it wasn't a fish. Ironically, everything falls into place for me when it comes to personal and private family matters, such as a health care dilemma. I know my position within my family, my rights and responsibilities as a daughter, and the degree of authority I have. I would have thought that when it came to such matters in the States, the terrain would be no different. I am reminded of the Ethiopian proverb "Fish discover water last." We don't know who discovered water, but it wasn't a fish. The same goes for the cultural dilemmas I was about to face. My adopted American culture was all around me. So it was natural for me to think I could predict how I would react, reason and relate to my both my immediate family and in-laws about the health care system, how I would make decisions when it came to my Dad's life, and how I would think and reason these issues out, especially when I speak English fluently. But that's just where the similarities begin and end. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Culture is all around us. It's an assumption; like breathing. We don't give it a second thought until someone cuts off the air supply. In my relocation business, living and working successfully across cultures is as important in the boardroom as it would turn out to be in my Dad's hospital room. The implicit dimensions of culture that drive our behavior are invisible, but they are just as real as air or love. Just because you can't see them, doesn't mean they're not there or you don't need them. My software of the mind determines whether I value rules over relationships, the individual over the group, or, how I understand power, and whether I allow someone else to make decisions for me.

A health care crisis was just what the doctor ordered

Handling critical incidents, like my dad's health care crisis in an American hospital, turned out to be a learning opportunity to acknowledge the importance of culture, the type of culture, and to recognize when it's different. This takes time, but the good news is because culture is all around us, we are surrounded by a hundred opportunities every day to get it right. Although they are not easy or obvious at first, they will be as we become aware of their signals and practice. Moments that will teach us all we need to know to become wiser and more empathetic in a shrinking world. The question is, how often do you pass up these opportunities by instinctively reacting in the "reject - refuse - resist" mode at the deli counter, the dry cleaners, during a sales call, or in negotiation?

Cross-Cultural Competency is the new Six Sigma

Acquiring cross-cultural competency is the new Six Sigma. Like any new management technique it's a process that takes time to learn because it's about changing behavior. Think of it as style-switching. You can't phone this stuff in. When human resources chooses a quality cross-cultural training program, they are building a world-class American workforce. A down and dirty lunch and learn webinar or "Tips and Techniques" approach may help to steer you safely around the tip of the cultural iceberg, but be aware that you may be in for a Titanic collision with the unseen and profound dimensions of culture that lie beneath the surface.

For example, in business, what is custom versus law depends on more than just the esprit de corps of an organization, or as in my case, what I presumed to control about my dad's health in the American context. Yes, one man's gift is another man's bribe, but consider this textbook hypothetical case presented by Trompenaars Hamden-Turner Global Consultants to about 70,000 managers in over 65 countries (so far):

"You are a passenger in a car driven by a close friend. That friend knocks down a pedestrian. The friend was travelling well above the speed limit - say 35 miles an hour in a 20-mile-an-hour-zone. There are no witnesses. The friend's lawyer suggests that testifying under oath on the friend's behalf that he was only doing 20 miles an hour may save him from serious consequences. Does the friend have a definite right, some right, or no right at all to expect someone (the manager being as asked the question) to testify to the lower figure. He also asks whether - irrespective of such right - the manager would testify to the lower figure."

The answers they received have varied around the world but, to some extent, were predictable. The answers match the ethical standards of the culture according to the roles and responsibilities they have ascribed to them. This example explores the cultural difference between Universalist and Particularistic societies. Universalist societies follow the rules and assume that the standards they hold dear are the correct ones. They try to get everyone to conform to them. That way, they believe, society works better. Particularistic societies, on the other hand, believe that particular circumstances are more important than general rules and that your response depends on the situation. The results of the study concluded that culture is not uniform but it's often a major determinant of attitude and of action. It is rich, varied and, at times, messy.

The Swiss almost unanimously feel that the friend has no right to expect his friend to perjure him/herself, and that in no circumstances should this be considered. Less than 35 percent of Venezuelans and the Chinese agree with this answer. For them, relationships are more important than rules. What's more, there is no value judgment when we know that this is just how they think. There are no wrong answers. What we do in a given situation becomes value neutral diffusing the "us versus them" discourse. And Trompenaars study concluded that yes, Americans believe rules are more important. This is the clear answer as a Universalist culture. I should not lie for my friend who broke the speed limit law and hit the pedestrian. This is just plain corrupt, not to mention a lie, in which case we should tell the truth.
So, when I learned that my legal authority over my father's health and welfare was extinguished, my emotions collided head on with my adopted culture.

Part of a series written for the HuffPost for Iram Ganju, DSP of IKG Global

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Upper West Side suburban types think Paterson as Jersey's hood. You’d have to squint pretty hard to imagine Paterson as the Silicon Valley, but in it's heyday during the industrial revolution, this rust belt looking town made everything from cotton and silk to iron and trains.

The incongruities don’t end there.  It is also William Carlos Williams’ eponymous modern epic poem described as “Whitman's America, grown pathetic and tragic, brutalized by inequality, disorganized by industrial chaos, and faced with annihilation. No poet has written of it with such a combination of brilliance, sympathy, and experience, with such alertness and energy.”

South Paterson Home to the largest Turkish-American immigrant community in the U.S. – at last count about 20,000, down from about 60,000, fifty years ago and the second largest Arab community after Dearborn, Michigan. Visit these streets on a Muslim holiday and you’re likely to see the kids who attend Prospect Park public schools hanging out, observing the festivities with their families.

And not unlike the Middle East, Little Ramallah  -- bordered by Madison Avenue to the north, Crooks Avenue to the south, Hazel Street to the west, and East Railway Avenue to the east – suffers from something of an identity crisis because it is alternately called Little Arabia or Little Istanbul due to the equally large numbers of Turks, Syrians and Lebanese.

Still, according to exasperated local Turks – although they don’t let on because that’s just not a Turk’s style – one is either a Turk or an Arab, but not both. Both can be of the Islamic World, but not religiously. Turkiye is secular, and doesn’t practice Islam. It is a buffer to fundamentalist Islam, but itself is neither East nor West, which defines both its problem and its blessing. Its heart is in Asia (Ankara) but it faces Europe (Istanbul).

South Paterson, it only looks Arab. Upon closer inspection of the business signs and you realize, they are not Arabic.

The contradictions keep coming, for we have crossed the great divide from West to East. Turks also read right to left. Like Greeks, they say “no” by nodding their head up and down, much like the West gesture “yes”.  “Yes” is a downward nod, which looks like the Western gesture for “no”.

Once you get past the cultural reversals, preconceived notions, and unfamiliar language you realize you are having an authentic cultural experience subtitled by Turkish “authenticity”.


Oz Karadeniz 1023 Main St. Paterson, NJ  (973) 523-7779

The smell of something grilling thrilled me nostrils first toward a local eatery slash watering hole where a few of the neighborhood men check in to say hello, use the phone, catch a soccer game, or a smoke.

Ahmet and his wifeYadigar Bayrou make a succulently grilled Chicken Doner Kebabs,  with bulgur wheat and pilaf, Cacik Yogurt sauce with garlic and dill. Swill it down with pure peach soda. Best part of the meal was talking to, the owner about the neighborhood. He explained the meaning of the handmade artifacts on his walls and introduced me to the “boss” (his wife) making delicious dips and salads along with his daughter-in-law. His grandson, Joseph doing handstands on the chair of my table was a charming little kid with big brown eyes. I thanked him profusely for his hospitality, and left feeling satisfied.

Drizzly and gray, I was about to head home when I wandered next door to the only Turkish book shop in the tri-state area called "Zinnur” at 1019 Main St. (973) 278-6662, run by Zinnur -- previously seen hanging around next door at Oz – who (before I knew it) poured me a glass of Turkish tea in a delicate little tulip glass an homage from the Lalezar era of the Ottomans. Quiet and ready to listen to my questions, he and a store colleague and another guy who was just passing through, reminded me that the rest of the world still takes to stop. And. Talk. To an ethnographer reporter, a citizen diplomat who would tell the real story of Oz to the Suburbanites.



I stopped off on the way home at Taskin, the Turkish bakery where again, I was shown the famous Turkish hospitality inquiring about the Turkish flat bread called “Pide”, handmade and brick oven baked. They come topped with sesame seeds and black caraway seeds or plain for sandwiches or table bread. They took me behind the counter, showed me around while the smell of fresh baked bread intoxicated me. A poster for the Turkish-American Festival was thrust into my hands . They wanted me to tell “everybody” to come. There’s a flag raising ceremony on Thursday, May 14th in front of Paterson City Hall (155 Market Street) in front of Clifton City Hall (corner of Clifton & Van Houten Aves.) and lots of parading, eating, music entertainment, singers, musicians, folk dancers, food, vendors, games, prizes & surprises. With all this culture right here in North Jersey, who needs Ninth Avenue?

Next up: The Syrians of South Paterson, NJ.

Lisa La Valle-Finan is an Intercultural trainer, writer, and the Creative Director of getGlobalized™. She’s been traveling and writing for 25 years, speaks French, Italian and Greek, and welcomes all comments and can be reached at . More information can be found on the company’s website at

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Huntington, S. P. (1996). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Morrison, C. B. (1994). Kiss Bow or Shake Hands. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media.

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Typical Job Opportunity: Master's degree majoring in Economics, Finance or Accounting. Practical work experience due to internships or a post-graduate job. Entrepreneurial thinking and leadership skills. You think and act internationally and you have a high level of cross-cultural competence which you provided during an international internship or a semester abroad. A pragmatic "hands on" approach characterizes your way of working. You are creative, self-motivated and a team-player who enjoys working in a multi-cultural company. You are able to speak English fluently. Additional language skills like German or Chinese are a plus

If this is the standard, there’s no doubt American kids can handle college academically, the problem is paying for it, often to the tune of up to $30,000 per year. In recent years, while Europe has been considering reforming higher education and moving towards a system that charges users, it’s still a fraction of the cost of a US education.

College is free in Norway, Austria, Sweden, Finland, and Germany. Belgium is beginning to charge an enrollment fee of 500 euros which is same for EU and non-EU students (non-EU students are charged additional 500 euros for social security), while Holland and Italy charge an enrollment fee of 1,000-1,500 euros. 

The cost of studying and living in Europe varies considerably by country, but it is much less than the United States. Since higher education is one top priority for Europe it is generally much cheaper to obtain a higher education than stateside. There are numerous scholarships available and tuition fees are either moderate or not charged at all.

Historically, the United States sent students to college than almost any country in the world. Of the 38 OECD countries, only two (Russia and Israel) have a higher proportion than the US. However, other countries have steadily increased their higher education rates over the past 30 years with the United States dropping to 16th. So, for American students to set a college education in their future, they may have to look elsewhere until a quality education in America is more affordable.

Schools may be responding more quickly to changes in the jobs market, but if they can’t afford it no amount of new pedagogues like teaching our kids to think outside the box and collaborate with others, even beyond national borders, will be out of grasp. Forget speaking a foreign language. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of countries with education systems that others can learn from. According to the latest OECD PISA survey, which tests the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old's, Korea has the best performing education system, closely followed by Finland. And these best-performing systems, which also include Canada and Japan, reflect students from various backgrounds, regardless of how well-off their parents are or whether they attend a private or state school.

With over 4,000 European universities and colleges to choose from, in over 30 different countries, there will be a European course and degree to suit your needs. You can learn in English, or immerse yourself fully in a new culture and language. From the Arctic Circle to the coast of Africa, you can explore a truly diverse and multicultural region, with a rich academic history spanning thousands of years.

If you study in Europe, you’ll gain all the skills you need for the global economy. Study and learn with students from all corners of the world, discover a new language, and develop your independence at a university in Europe.

Quality and cost are but just the beginning of the advantages to studying abroad compared to the United States. One of the hidden benefits is studying stress free. According to the New York Times, money troubles interfere with the academic performance of about one-third of all college students, and a similar number of students regularly skip buying required academic materials because of the costs, according to a survey released recently.

The choice is endless – from highly ranked research universities to smaller, specialized European colleges. European courses will open your eyes to new opportunities – and give you an education that employers around the world will really value and respect. Hundreds of European universities have long traditions of quality teaching and research. For example, University of Cambridge which according to the QS World University Rankings is the highest ranked university in the world and was formed in 1209. 

There are thousands of universities and colleges in Europe, offering a huge variety of courses to choose from. Whether you prefer a large leading research university or a smaller specialized college, you can be certain to find what you are looking for. With 50 countries and 600 million people speaking 48 languages, Europe is the perfect place for those who seek for a fantastic cultural experience.

Although many universities offer courses in English, you will have the chance to learn in Spanish, German, French or any other local language. If you have always wanted to learn a new language then studying in Europe offer plenty of chances to master either a widespread or more exotic language.
The Bologna Process makes it easier for students to study abroad and have their qualifications recognized in all countries joined the Bologna Process. Since the graduate qualifications are unified, the graduate degree is worth the same regardless of the country you study in.
Intake dates, application deadlines, student visas and English language requirements before applying to a European University or College. Intake dates vary from country to country but most countries have a main intake in September or October and there is rolling intake for some programs and institutions.


Frost, Maya. The New Global Student. New York: Three Rivers, 2009. Print.

OECD. (2009). PISA Key Findings assessing 15-year-olds' competencies in the key subjects: reading, mathematics and science.Perez, Pena. (2012, November 14). Financial Worries Pile on Long Before Graduation. New York Times. New York, NY, USA. jobs and skills - article. (2009). Retrieved December 1, 2012, from OECD:
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Genetic anthropology demonstrates that human populations have been on the move for the past 200,000 years. We have been migrating from continents and immigrating to countries ever since African Eve -- the first "fearless woman"  walked out of Africa. As the first known female genetic ancestor of every person alive today, she proved we all share a common ancestor and therefore, all of us are related. I like to think she had a vision for herself, and for humanity and that in her quest for life, liberty and happiness, she saw the big picture.



Awni Abu Hadba came to the United States to improve his English-language skills. He stayed, he says, "to take his chance at the American dream." Following in the footsteps of an older brother, Abu Hadba, now 59, arrived in America in 1971 from his native Palestine after graduating from Birzeit University in Ramallah.