With refugees crossing cultures lacking preparation, the dangers of intercultural miscommunication are intensifying. Why do many refugees traumatized by violence find Western “talk therapy” alienating? As a Syrian refugee confided, “I can’t share my painful, humiliating stories with a stranger.” A Sudanese refugee was diagnosed “psychotic” because she seemed to be talking to herself; her Boston psychiatrist was unaware that in her world, conversing with ancestors is normal.

With YouTube, Tweets and fake news instantly crossing cultures without context, it’s essential to understand the actual meanings and intentions behind words and actions…

By Joe Lurie

“The truth is helpless when up against perception.” Zack W. Van

During these threatening and uncertain times, many of us are anxious and fearful. Hungry for a sense of certainty, we often grasp for instant answers — frequently leading to preconceived and polarizing conclusions.

A stunning example of this was aptly illustrated when the coronavirus began to emerge as a threat in the United States. That’s when an educator at a center for lifelong learning shared the following experience with students and colleagues alike:

“I was in a drug store and saw a young man whose cart…

Joe Lurie

Author of Perception and Deception and Executive Director Emeritus of UC Berkeley’s International House, his work has been featured on PBS, NPR and Book TV.

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