DR SANGITA SHRESTHOVA

4IR.org SKILLS COACH CROSS CULTURAL COMPETENCY

I’m Dr Sangita Shresthova your 4IR.org Cross Cultural Competency Skills Coach. Rooted in my own lived experiences, my approach to cross cultural competence focuses on skills that move us from tolerance to acceptance in the 21st century

As a Czech-Nepalese child of the final years of the Cold War, I grew up between Prague and Kathmandu. My early childhood was shaped by hostile visa policies and travel restrictions.  In what could be seen as a reaction to this restrictive experience, I have since taken the opportunity to call many cities home (among them Brussels, London, Kandy, Ahmedabad, Berlin). I relish any opportunity to draw on my mixed race/cultural chameleon-like background and routinely keep track of multiple times zones. I am still most comfortable when my carry-on is packed and believe home is simply a place where there is someone waiting for you; right now that is Los Angeles.

I am the Director of Henry Jenkins’s Civic Paths Group based at the University of Southern California, a group that focuses on civic participation in the digital age and includes research, educator outreach, and partnerships with community groups and media organizations, and companies. My own research focuses on the intersections among popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. I hold a Ph.D. from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures and MSc. degrees from MIT and LSE. I received my BA from Princeton University. My first book on Bollywood dance and globalization (Is It All About Hips?) was published by SAGE Publications in 2011. My more recent research has focused on issues of storytelling and surveillance among American Muslim youth, the achievements and challenges faced by Invisible Children pre-and-post Kony2012, and the powerful role that the ability to imagine alternative, aspirational futures plays in civic societies. I am also one of the authors on By Any Media Necessary: The New Activism of Youth, a work that offers a profoundly different picture of contemporary American youth. Drawing on my background in dance and new media, I am also the founder of Bollynatyam (bollynatyam.com), a global Bollywood dance Project, and continue to explore Bollywood dance through this platform. My creative work has been presented in academic and creative venues around the world including the Schaubuehne (Berlin), AIGA Boston/ATE Massaging Media Conference (Boston), the Other Festival (Chennai), the EBS International Documentary Festival (Seoul), the American Dance Festival (Durham, NC), and Akademi’s Frame by Frame (London, UK). Dancing Kathmandu, my documentary on the cultural marginalization of dancers in Nepal, was a curtain raiser at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival in 2007.

Throughout my life, I have tapped dance as an entry into cross cultural dialogue and exchange and incorporate what I have learned into all my work. Over the years, I studied Bharata Natyam (classical Indian dance), Charya Nritya (Nepalese Dance), Kalaripayat (South Indian martial art) and contemporary dance techniques. I was part of several dance companies and even started my own in Prague. I have taught dance in schools, conservatories, night clubs, and public squares. I bring the joy of movement to everything I do, and see this as a signature of my approach cross cultural communication.

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