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Newsletter: 2019 September

"By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer's best of weather, and autumn's best of cheer."

- Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) -

The transition of summer to autumn, signals we are getting towards the end of another year! If you are of my generation, you may have heard of Earth, Wind and Fire, the American band's song "September" - Ba de ya, say do you remember Ba de ya, dancing in September Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day... How each generation has its favourite music, fashions, blockbusters movies, yet every year around this time, it is the beginning of a new academic year in many countries for another generation!

Like every month, there are many special days in September, some celebrate national or Independence days (2nd for Vietnam, 3rd for Qatar, 22nd for Bulgaria and Mali, 30th for Botswana). For those with Chinese cultural ties, 13th of Sept will be the mooncake festival (the 15th day of the 8th month according to the lunar calendar).

Amidst all the excitement, there is one day in September, which etched deeply on our minds and hearts - 911. It has now been 18 years that we witnessed the extremities of human on the same day - of deep hatred as well as of deep love. The incident divided and destroyed our faith in humanity, but it also brought out kindness and love in many. It is indeed a day for us to remember, pause and reflect, what role do we want to play in our lives? What action can we take to make this world a better place for the next generation? Let's do it as we remember and honour those who perished on that day, September 11...

The answer for August's Photo Contest is:

The picture was taken in St. Petersburg, a city founded by Peter the Great. For those who love Baroque and Neo-Classical architecture, you will find the Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (also known as the Church of Saviour on the Spilled Blood) a marvellous piece of architecture. Its interior is covered by breath-taking mosaics, a popular art form in several cultures around the world. Mosaics are also a staple of early Islamic architecture, popular in the 7th and 8th centuries.

Click the link below to learn more about St. Petersburg  (clip by Expedia):

A Journey A Month...

Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.

By Paul and Keng Keng.

If you do not know about Nokia phones, you must have heard of the "Angry Birds," or at least the word "sauna," right?

In fact, how many of you know all three of them share a common denominator? Yes - they are all from Finland (the land of thousand lakes, literally 187,888 of them)!

This month, Paul would like to share with us something very Finnish:


I am sure that we all have at some point in our lives faced adversity, be it in our personal and family lives, at workplaces or in businesses. Some of us may have learnt to be resilient from these difficulties and can apply the lessons to guide us as we march on in our quests, while some may have left feeling defeated.

When I first heard of sisu, I was instantly inspired. Sisu is a Finnish concept described as extraordinary determination, courage, and resoluteness in the face of adversity. It originates from the word ‘sisus’ which means ‘guts’ or ‘the intestines’ in Finnish. The concept now not only resonates with those from Finnish culture but is beginning to take the business world by storm.

Here is a bit of its background: In 1745, Daniel Juslenius, a Finnish bishop defined ‘sisucunda’ as the part in the human body where strong emotions come from. Eventually, the concept of sisu was accepted by Finnish intellectuals as a unique Finnish quality during the initial years of nation-building. It embodies extreme perseverance and dignity in the face of adversity. As Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917, in spite of its smaller but weather-resistant army, the concept of sisu was seen as a social glue that helped build the nation.

The Finnish eventually began to draw parallels between sisu and its rich cultural heritage as well as its sporting achievements. Now, you can even find popular Finnish sweet and mountain named after it. Emilia Lahti, a researcher of sisu from the Aalto University in Helsinki, mentions that sometimes in a culture that holds concept like sisu in high reverence, it’s hard to ask for help because one risks losing face as it may be perceived as an act to admit one's weakness. Nevertheless, sisu does have an immense power to pull us out of our most bottomless abyss, and help us succeed no matter what our obstacles are.

Even though the cultural construct of sisu has its roots in Finland, there are other cultures around the world with similar concepts of sisu such as, 'ganbaru' for the Japanese which means to slog on tenaciously during tough times, and the stiff British upper lip which refers to remaining resolute and unemotional during times of adversity.

In fact, for every culture, there are wisdom and guideposts that our ancestors meant to pass on to us. The lessons from each generation will help the next as we take over the baton to create our Human story.

Thanks to Paul and our Finnish friends, who have shared with us sisu - the Finnish art of inner strength!

What are those from your culture? Do you share them with people around you? One never knows, it may be the next phenomenon that goes around the globe!

This September, may you find the sisu within you in the pursuit of your goals!

Good luck and good sailing!

We, at TransCultural Group (TCG), are determined to play our parts in making the world a better place, and we have teamed up with the Cultural Intelligence Centre, U.S.A to bring their well-researched and designed CQ assessment tools to our clients in the Asia Pacific.

We are passionate about building bridges and breaking down walls. Please join us in our journey,

Beyond Boundaries - Crossing Cultures

We have so much in common, we just don't always notice it...

Spread the words, share the vision, do our parts:

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Keng Keng Tan
Founder & CEO
TransCultural Group