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    Welcome to Authentic Journeys - ഓതെന്റിക് ജെർനീയ്സ് - US-India Cross-Cultural Training

August 5, 2020

2021 - Leave, PTO, Days Off, Holidays, Vacations

2021 - Leave, PTO, Days Off, Holidays, Vacations
India & US Holiday Calendar 2020 (2019 holidays - USA -- India)

Need for this Calendar

This calendar will be useful for Indians and Americans working on distributed, global teams with multiple offices in India or in the US.

As India is a diverse country which celebrates different holidays in different parts of the country, this calendar mainly focuses on:

  • India-wide Government Holidays
  • Kerala Holidays
  • Select South Indian (Tamil, Andhra, Karnataka) Holidays
  • Always ask your India-based team which holidays they support. Holidays are not standard across the board. Some may be floating holidays. Your company’s HR would be the best resource for this.
When you click on the holidays which are linked, you will learn more about that holiday or learn about some small talk topics related to that holiday.

US & India Holidays - 2021 

When is .....  January 2021?
1 - New Year’s Day
14 - Pongal (Tamil Harvest Festival)
14 - Sabarimala Makaravilakku (Kerala)
18 - Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday 
20 - Guru Gobindsingh's Birthday (Sikh) 
26 - Republic Day
27 - Tu B'Shvat, The New Year for Trees Festival  
28 - Thaipusam 

When is .....  February 2021
Groundhog’s Day 
First Sunday (7th) - Superbowl (American Football Championship)
14 – Valentine’s Day  
16 - Vasant Panchami  
15 - President's Day 
19 - Shivaji Jayanti (Maharasthra)  
27 – Attukal Pongala (Kerala) 
27 - Guru Ravidas’s Birthday (Sikh) 

When is ..... March 2021

All Month - March Madness 
8 - Swami Dayanand Saraswati Jayanti
11 – Mahashivarathri
14 Daylight Savings Time Begins
17 St. Patrick’s Day Observation
25 – Purim
28  – Palm Sunday
28 – Holi

When is .....  April 2021?

1 - April Fool’s Day
2 – Good Friday
4 – Easter 
8 – Buddha Purnima
8-9 - Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) 
12 - Ramadan Starts
14 – Baishakhi
14 – Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti
14 – Tamil New Year
15 – Vishu (Kerala)
15 – Tax Day USA

21  – Ramanavami
22 – Earth Day
April End - School Ends India 

When is .....  May 2021?

1 - May Day
1 - Labor Day (India) 
5 - Cinco De Mayo
8 - Laylat al-Baraat/Laylat al-Qadr
9 – Mother’s Day 
11 - Ramadan Ends
14 Akshaya Tritiya 
31 – Memorial Day
May mid to June end- school ends USA

When is .....  June 2021?

Throughout June - Graduation Season USA
June beginning – School Starts India 
14 - Flag Day
19 - Juneteenth 
20 – Father’s Day  (What is dads and grads season?)

When is ..... July 2021?

17-18 - Tisha B'Av 
19 - Eid al-Fitr 
24 - Pioneer Day (Utah) 
July mid- September - "Back to School Season" School starts USA 

When is .....  August 2021

15 – Independence Day (India)
19 - Islamic New Year / Muharram / Ashura
21 – Onam 
22- Rakhi
29 – Krishna Jayanthi

When is .....  September 2021?

Labor Day (USA)  
6-8 - Rosh Hashanah 
10 Ganesh Chathurthi
11 – Patriot Day (USA)
15-16 - Yom Kippur 
20-27 - Sukkot

When is .....  October 2021?

2 - Gandhi Jayanthi
6-14 – Navarathri
11 – Columbus Day / Indigenous People's Day
14 – Vijaya DashamiVidhyarmbam (end of Navarathri)
31 – Halloween

When is .....  November 2021?

– Kerala Statehood Day / Karnataka Day / Tamil Nadu Day
1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday, US Election Day
– Diwali / Deepawali
Daylight Savings Time Ends
11 – Veterans Day
18-19  – Nabhidinam 
19 - Guru Nanak’s Birthday
19 – Kathigai Deepam
20 - Children’s Day
25 – Thanksgiving (USA)
26 - Black Friday
28 - Hanukkah (Chanukah) starts

When is .....  December 2021?

 - Hanukkah (Chanukah) ends
24 – Christmas Eve
25 – Christmas Day
26 – Jan 1 – Kwanzaa
29 – New Year’s Eve
Note: Double check with your onsite or offshore colleagues as to which holidays are actual days off of work. Not all holidays have days off. 

Thank you for spending your time on the Authentic Journeys blog.

Work on a global team between the US and India? Check out our program on presenting on a virtual team.

August 4, 2020

Contacting Authentic Journeys for the First Time

Have you been following us for awhile, and wanted to reach out to us to see how we can help you, but are still wondering how it will go or what will happen? Take a listen to this comprehensive overview that covers the following points:
  1. The three types of clients we work with (individuals and sponsors- including companies and individuals who sponsor spouses or children) 
  2. How potential clients tend to contact us for the first time.
  3. How we schedule the FREE first call – call the discovery call which lasts one hour. 
  4. What is discussed in the discovery call.
  5. What are some of the types of programs (coaching, training – facilitated courses and flipped, virtual sessions/classes). 
  6. What are a few of the basic coaching or training topics/packages professionals prefer. 
  7. How we help you to prioritize your outcomes, set our coaching or training agreements, match them to your KPIs, conduct a gap analysis, and other desired metrics before we even get started. 
  8. A basic overview of how our sessions or programs are structured.  

Start your cross cultural coaching or training journey today!

Listen to all the details, and get to know a little more about the coach Jennifer Kumar, or take the first step to reach out by email with your desired coaching or training outcomes, so we can schedule a free discovery call! 
  • info@authenticjourneys.info
  • US phone: +1 385-218-0947
  • India WhatsApp: +91 95 39347 529

Related posts:

July 31, 2020

Politely Say No or Decline Requests from US Clients

Have you ever been in a situation where you were in a conversation with a US client and needed to say no, but instead did not say anything because you did not know how to politely say no or push back

Well, today I am going to teach you a few formulas and phrases you can use to do just that! These tips will help you build relationships, where as silence and saying yes when you mean no will damage a good business relationship that took years to build. 

Take a listen to the video below and some more of the tips and tricks listed under the video to help you to gain mastery, confidence and skill in this tricky technique. It will become tricky no more! 

Tips for saying no or pushing back in a collaborative way

Notes from the video. Watch the video for more context.

1. Use of the word “honored” to say no 
In the US, I have heard of the use of the word honor mostly for agreeing or thanking to be included. Not as a polite way to say now. For example, the word “honored” could be used when kicking off a project, “[Client name] thank you so much for choosing our team and company to launch your first ever app. We are honored to partner with you and be a part of this journey with you!”

Instead of saying what is mentioned in the video and in the article to say no, use this formula: Acknowledge, add context, end with question.

Acknowledgement in red, context in blue, question in fuschia.

I’m really glad that you thought of me to do this particular project, as you know we have a tight deadline to roll out your product in a couple weeks. So, I am hope hoping if I am able to help you, we can revisit this after the roll out when things calm down a little bit. What do you think about that?

2. Unfortunately, there’s only one of me.
This phrase I have listed here is the opposite of what is mentioned in the article. Listen to the video from minute marker 5 minute 45 seconds to hear how I used this phrase to decline the request. 

Here's another example of how to use the phrase "I wish there were two of me" in a slightly different way: 
"I have been waiting to work on a project like that! As you know with the upcoming rollout, I am drowning in deadlines over here, and gosh, I wish I could clone myself so I could start work on that immediately! Can we connect after the rollout to discuss how I can collaborate on that with you? Shall I put it in my calendar?" 

3. When is a good time?
The third suggestion appears too direct in my opinion, and make the response a little more collaborative/positive. Instead, maybe say, “I’m glad you thought of me to help out with this, unfortunately, as you know with the roll out coming up, I’m spread a little bit thin. Can we revisit this after the roll out to see how I can best help you out?”

In this response, we have used two idioms or phrases “spread a little bit thin” and “to revisit [something]. Listen to the video [at 7:45] to get the meaning.

4. The word “booked” in the context it is shared may not be a common use for scheduling meetings in the US
In this point, I spoke about the client trying to scheduling a meeting with you. So, to deny a request for a particular meeting time, use this formula: Acknowledge their request (mentioning why you are not available), mention a time you may be available, ask them if they are available at that time.

This is a polite way to decline a meeting request in a conversation and also in an email.

Note: Another phrase I have heard instead of booked is “double booked.” However, we wouldn’t replace “booked” with “double booked.” We would not say, “I am double booked into something else.” Instead, we may say, “It looks like if we meet at that time, I would be double booked. Can we look at another time to meet?”

I am not sure how common this is, so instead, some say “schedule conflict.” Or more conversationally, one could say, “Sorry, it actually looks like I have another meeting scheduled atc this time, can we look at scheduling XX time instead?”

Notice how it’s easy to expand your vocabulary with easy words! No need to learn long, complicated, hard to pronounce words! (Phew!)

Learn more about: How US Clients Request Meeting Times & How To Answer/Decline
Tips on learning how to say no to US clients (with video tutorial)

5. Try not to use this one because of one particular word…..
Instead of using the “not so acceptable word,” replace that word with another exclamation like “Oh no!” or “So sorry, it looks like…” Try to avoid the word “but” as to most US Americans whatever comes after the word but would be taken as negative (even as in the opening sentence of this post). See this post for more information on that.

6. This one works!
I did share another adaptation of this response for your interest!

7. The use of the word “lovely” is not so American
I share some alternatives to what is suggested in the article in the video at minute marker 10:40. In this section, I also used the idiom “I’m tied up.” This is a common idiom used in such situations which means “I am very busy, and have a lot of things to do….”

8. May be too direct for the US interactions
Though the suggested answer in the original article may not be that direct, I suggest something even more indirect to soften the blow. (“Soften the blow” is another idiom that means “make it sound more polite, so the other person doesn’t feel bad.”)

9. This suggested answer is close to the first one in the list.

10. The last one may work better for when colleagues ask you to join them on an outing, for an event or some other activity. I suggest a few other ways of using this phrase that are very common in American English.

Do keep in mind above all, it's about building a relationship with your US client. From even before you talk to him or her for the first time, get to know them with these tips, and as you start working with them, learn how to make small talk and gain a comfort level with the person him or herself so that when it comes time to tackle the more challenging conversations, you will be ready! 

I hope you found this post and video tutorial helpful. I help you and teams like yours in India to communicate more effectively with your US colleagues and clients through language consultation and cross cultural coaching. Get in touch with us to start the conversation, or if you still need more inspiration, take a look at some of the projects we have worked on with over 50 companies just like yours! 

Related Posts:
Speaking Confidently about Declining Change Requests 
Scheduling, coordinating and driving US client meetings (when it's new to you)  
Tips to using English more politely 

July 30, 2020

ICF Core Competency Area A: Setting the Foundation

Written by: Jennifer Kumar (Managing Director, head Coach of Authentic Journeys) 

As I prepare for the PCC – mid level ICF credentialing exam (known as the cka- coach knowledge assessment), I’d like to share some of my insights around how the ICF core competencies apply to me as a coach. 

In this post, I’d like to talk more about the first two core competencies listed under Part A entitled "Setting the Foundation." 

[Note: This post is updated from my previous post on Core Competency 1 as I realize now that I have misunderstood that I actually talked about two core competencies in this post and not one!]   

How we Follow the ICF Competency 1: Ethics and Professional Standards

Every profession has a set of guidelines it abides by, and coaching is no exception. Often this competency is not directly discussed in pure coaching sessions in my experience, but instead is discussed in the discovery session (view the video on this post to see how we conduct our discovery call) – or the session a prospective client has with a coach to establish if there is a fit between the coach and the client. 

The Discovery Session 

Typically, in a discovery session with a coach – which is true with how I also operate- in addition to a prospective client speaking with the coach about what they hope to achieve by coaching and what got them interested to hire a coach, the coach also talks about their  coaching approach with the client. 

In my experience, many of my prospective clients, even those who have heard of coaching before (I operate as a cross-cultural coach, a language fluency coach, a career coach, a team building coach, a virtual team building coach, and so on), are not quite sure what a coach actually does or how they do it. To help clarify this, I may offer a short coaching interaction, while also conducting this initial interaction as a coaching session as much as that is possible.

In addition, many prospective clients are not quite clear about how a coach is different from a mentor, a facilitator, a trainer or a consultant. Due to this, some wonder how I can provide specialty coaching in these areas without training, teaching or consulting. While some clients opt for pure coaching, some do want a mix of learning with coaching. That mix can be more of a set of blended facilitative and coaching sessions or a series of learning/training sessions followed up with a series of one to one or team coaching. 

Coaching vs. Other Helping Professions

So, one may wonder what exactly distinguishes coaching from the other approaches. In general, in all of the other approaches the service provider is looked upon as the expert who provides information, guidance, content or fills in the blanks where the client doesn't have the answers. Typically the service provider appears to have more 'knowledge' about the content area than the client. However, in coaching, it's assumed that the client already has the answers, but for some reason is finding it hard to uncover the answers. The coach partners with the client to uncover the answers to their challenges through a series of what are called 'powerful questions.' Coaching focuses more on the present time and future outcomes than what happened in the past (having come from a social work therapy background, I am also aware of this difference, professionally speaking). Coaching will help a client to understand how they show up in their life, how they apply their current understanding to the world, and how they show up in other's lives around them. So, for example, in language or culture coaching, we often have conversations about how the use of a language in a particular situation or the use of a behavior impacts a person's impression of themselves, how others in their lives will see them, and how this aligns with or conflicts with what their ideal is. In cross-cultural terms, many of these situations relate to 'code switching.' A common situation may be with a manager who has a team meeting with team in the US and India, but must use a particular approach with the US counterparts that conflicts with how the team in India expect their manager to act or talk (read a case study here).  This is discussed and uncovered in coaching along with solutions and accountability plans that are created and owned by the client (rather than getting a prescription or advice from the service provider). 

Listen to other's perspectives on Core Competency 1:
The Exponential Coach - Coaching Changes Lives 
Janet Harvey, MCC shares a perspective via Brighton West Video 

How we Follow the ICF Competency 2: Establishing the Coaching Agreement

What is the Coaching Agreement? 
As Chip McFarlane notes in this video, there is both an informal and a formal coaching agreement. To expand on this, or clarify this, Coaching Changing Lives notes both a formative and sessional coaching agreement. As I actually like these terms a little better, I will go ahead an refer to agreements using these terms. 

In terms of Authentic Journeys, the formative (formal) coaching agreement is the written agreement signed by the person being coached and, if required, the sponsor. This agreement outlines the basic roles, responsibilities and commitment that each party will adhere to in order to have a successful coaching program from start to finish (over a period of weeks or months). 

The sessional (or 'informal') coaching agreement takes place only between the coach and the client being coached during each call

Typically, the overarching flow of a session (typically 1 hour) is as follows:

Opening of Call
We start off the session we talk about how things have been going since last call, what the progress has been on the things they wanted to work on, accountability, and successes. 

Planning and Goal Setting for Today's Conversation (the 'meat and potatoes' of the call) 
Then, we move into the topic for today's session where we identify what we want to work on in this session, measures for success are defined and confirmed (either qualitative or quantitative), accountability measures, and why this topic is important, meaningful or relevant at this current moment. 

[According to Coaching Changing Lives on YouTube, it is IN the coaching agreement where we set the KPIs and ROIs of coaching. It is in this section of the coaching conversation that we balance the desires of the sponsor and the professional being coached, especially when the individual being coached is sponsored by their company.] 

In this section of the call, it's the coach's responsibility to facilitate exploration, learning and awareness through the use of powerful questions, direct communication (when needed), bottom lining, and active listening. This is done through the coach maintaining a coaching presence and not using their own agenda to move the conversation along. 

As it is important to help the client manage the time during the call and to help the client feel progress is being made on what they have identified to discuss and work on, the coach also acts as a moderator through out the discussion to check in and ensure the conversation is moving in the direction the client desires. If it veers off, the coach can help the client get back on track. 

Wrapping Up the Call
We close the call by creating an action plan for what was discussed and of course, plan the next call. 

As noted above, coaching agreements can vary slightly depending on if the individual being coached is paying out of pocket (a private client) or is sponsored (typically, in the case of Authentic Journeys a company (90% or a family member 10%) pays for the coaching and may take part in regular updates. As that pertains to this competency, let's look at how these types of agreements pertain to client's working with us at Authentic Journeys. 

Corporate Clients and Sponsors 
When the company contacts us, they will be sponsoring the person or people to be coached. While the sponsor would be a part of the contracting, the sponsor may or may not be a part of the coaching activities (goal setting/kick off meeting, review sessions/retrospectives, and final wrap up). While it is rare that a sponsor wants to be coached with the individual or team being coached, there are cases where the sponsor or management team (if it is a company) opts to meet me at regular intervals to discuss updates, but not be coached. In terms of coaching, a sponsor is the person or entity who is paying for the person or people being coached. In 90% of my coaching engagements, the sponsor is a company, while in the remaining 10% it may be a parent, a spouse, a friend, or a colleague (in all cases of this 10%, they tend to be private clients, not corporate clients).

Authentic Journeys' team coaching model
The Authentic Journeys' Coaching Model for Virtual Software Teams

On the topic of Confidentiality  

When talking about working with a sponsor, the topic of confidentiality is discussed at length. What information can be shared with whom. And, what information will not be shared. And, what information must be shared as per contract obligations or safety reasons. Of course, confidentiality is always discussed, even when it’s a 1 to 1 private coaching client as well. Typically, we fill out an agreement that discusses the relationship, obligations (including scheduling, fees, duration of interaction, confidentiality, and other pertinent information). In some cases, depending on the type of interaction, a different kind of agreement is signed. There is a slightly different one for private clients (see this sample, used mostly for language fluency coaching or this sample used for team coaching) as compared to the agreement I use with corporate clients.

The Coaching Agreement vs. Contracting  

The coaching agreement is NOT the contract which is signed to work with the company. Most of the corporate clients I work with are in India. If it is a larger company, we create very formalized legal contracts on stamp paper with company stamps, along with a Statement of Work (SOW) for each project. In rare cases, where I work with companies or teams with a high level of security and confidentiality (financial, health care, legal), the contract from the client side may require additional paperwork and contracting. Contracts are typically signed by me (on behalf of Authentic Journeys) and the company HR representative. The SOW, on the other hand, is typically signed by the HR representative, the team manager who manages the team(s) I coach, and possibly the company CEO (if a very small startup). However, as most of the companies I work with in India are startups, only the SOW is required. In both cases, the coaching agreements are only signed by the managers and those whom I coach. 

Listen to other's perspectives on Core Competency 2:
The Exponential Coach - ICF Core Competency 2 - Coaching Agreement
Establishing the Coaching Agreement - IECL
Sheri Boone, MCC shares via Brighton West Video

Summing up Core Competency Area: Setting the Foundation 

This competency, unlike all others is best demonstrated by NOT demonstrating it. I think this was said best in the video by Brighton West when he interviewed Janet Harvey from Invite Change on this topic. While I also believe this, I feel that this particular competency helps set the base not only for the profession and how to conduct oneself (which can be an especially helpful guideline for many coaches who operate as solopreneurs), but gives some context to the profession to those who want to work with a coach as well. Be on the lookout for more insights on ICF core competencies in upcoming blogs! 

Related Posts:

ICF Code of Ethics 
Free course on Ethics (CCEs awarded via the ICF)

July 23, 2020

Pioneer Day: A Holiday Unique to Utah

We moved to Utah on July 4, America’s Independence Day. We moved into our new apartment on Pioneer Day, July 24. 

“Pioneer Day?” I wondered, “What’s that? I have never heard of it before!” 

I heard there would be fireworks and a parade. We loved the 4th of July fireworks show we saw from Ensign Peak on Independence Day, so figured the fireworks display on Pioneer Day would be just as awesome (though, truth be told, I am not too much of a fan of fireworks). 

The first year we were in Utah, 2017, we experienced watching fireworks from our 6th story apartment balcony. In addition to the fireworks, we were able to attend the Days of ’47 (another name for Pioneer Day) Rodeo and other local rodeos in the area. 

Attending the Draper Days Rodeo
Jennifer, blog author, attending the Draper Days Rodeo.

In 2018 we were able to watch the Pioneer Day Marathon, experience seeing people camp along the parade route, and I myself got to see the parade and even see the ‘Utah Honda Girl’ providing live commentary to the parade. Again, we attended the Days of ’47 rodeo and got rained out near the end!!

In 2019, we got to attend the Float Preview Party in Sandy. That was loads of fun to see the floats up close and personal- to see how much work really goes into each of these creations. It’s amazing to note the creativity and team spirit of all the groups who put together their own parade tableau entry.

But, in 2020, due to the pandemic, of course everything is canceled. We found out about the cancelation back in April, I think. I thought that’d be a good reason enough to write this blog about it.

What is Pioneer Day?

Back in 1847 on July 24, Brigham Young led the Mormon Pioneers into what is now the Salt Lake Valley stating “This is the Place.” Some believe this day is the birth of Utah. While in some ways it may be (Brigham Young had initially marked out a huge territory spanning across what is today’s Oregon, California, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona as the State of Deseret, which over the years was chiseled down to what is today’s Utah), Utah’s official statehood birthday is January 4, 1896; a full almost 50 years from the year the pioneer trek made it’s way across and down the Wasatch Mountains.

"Deseret Map" Courtesy kutv.com.
"Deseret Map" Courtesy kutv.com.

Where is Pioneer Day Celebrated?

Since today’s Utah is still mostly known for a Mormon population, most towns, cities and villages in Utah have some kind of celebrations. However, I have heard of celebrations in areas of Idaho and Wyoming as well. Some may or may not be affiliated to Mormonism.

When is Pioneer Day? 

July 24, every year since 1849. This is not treated as a floating holiday for those who celebrate it. Regardless if it falls on a Wednesday or Sunday, it's celebrated on the day it falls, and many local offices will have the day off. 

How do People Celebrate Pioneer Day?
Parades, re-enactments of the trek (in period wear – as seen below in the video from the parade in Salt Lake City), rodeos, cook offs (Dutch oven cooking contests), story telling, local native story telling and skits (the name Utah derives from the Ute tribes – Ute, Paiute, Goshute and others, that were the original inhabitants of this area of the world before it was settled by the Mormons and way before this land became part of the USA.).

Native Americans Of Utah - Map

A list of other activities include: old-west re-enactments, square dancing or family dances, mountain men cultural events (these are pretty interesting), car shows, singing contests, outdoor movies, class reunions, pageants, ice cream socials (drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages is typically a no-no in Mormon culture, so many may resort to eating sweets and deserts, hence there are loads of bakeries, shaved ice and other sweets shops found throughout Utah), runs, bike races, trap shooting, horseshoe throwing, sporting events, church events, and flag ceremonies. 

Can I participate in these events if I am not a Mormon? 

Well, I am not a Mormon, and some of the events I had participated in as they are open to the community. Everyone will know it is going on and Pioneer Day is a day off of work for many Utahns (though it’s not an off-day for everyone). The events I attended tended to be secular in nature, but of course, attending the religious events are probably relegated to those who are a member of the church. 

What's closed on Pioneer Day?
What's closed on Pioneer Day - 2019?

It is noted that in the parade and during the Float Preview Party, one can see floats from community groups who are NOT Mormon. Some floats belong to different cultural or ethnic groups or even religious groups in Utah as seen below. And, yes for those curious, there are many other types of religions and religious buildings in Utah- not just Mormons or LDS (terms which are now outdated). (The entry from the Taiwanese Association of Utah was in the video above at minute marker 6 minutes 25 seconds.) 

Note: While the terms "Mormon" and "LDS" (denoting those who follow the faith) were noted by The Church to be replaced by “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints,” in vernacular most people do not seem to have updated to the new terminology though it was changed in 2018.

Parade Entry for Sikhs of Utah, 2019

Parade Entry for Sikhs of Utah, 2019

It is noted that there is a counter to Pioneer Day known as Pie and Beer Day. This day, which has a large following among many non-Mormons and Jack Mormons, is as stated. On this day, those who prefer not to participate in Pioneer Day activities will go to bars and drink beer and eat pies. I don’t know how that works, really, as I have not participated in that. Though I have heard there are ‘tours’ on that day where groups will move from bar to bar drinking local brews and eating different kinds of pies at each establishment.

What are some Utah symbols?

When one attends the parade, many will see Utah and Mormon symbols on the floats including: the Temple at Temple Square, Church symbols (I do not know what all those are, really), bees and beehives (the Utah symbol, which is also on the Utah flag, on state highway signs – as below, and on state buildings), the Sego Lily (state flower), the Delicate Arch, hoodoos, red rocks, the state shape, and others. Some are shown below in the pictures of some of the floats from previous parades I have attended.

Utah State Highway Signs Use the Beehive Symbol- A State Symbol
The Beehive is seen on the State Highway signs. Route 12 is one
of the most scenic byways of Utah in the Escalante area.
The Delicate Arch and Bryce Canyon Hoodoos Symbolize Utah
The Delicate Arch and Bryce Canyon Hoodoos Symbolize Utah as
seen on this parade float.
Blog author, Jennifer, and her husband at the Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah.
Blog author, Jennifer, and her husband at the Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah.

Other Notable Tidbits

There are many hiking trails and treks around Salt Lake City marked at the Pioneer Trail or the Mormon Pioneer Trail, while others will have historical markers to highlight the historical aspects of the trail, which are related to the settling of Utah. We have been to a few of these trails as noted and chronicled below.

Ensign Peak

Ensign Peak is a .8 mile round trip hike (others call stroll) up a hill overlooking Salt Lake Valley. This short thigh burner for those of us not used to walking up rocky hills has a 375 feet elevation gain. Don’t forget to bring water and good shoes, you will need it. This trail is in a residential neighborhood and overlooks not only Salt Lake City, but Capitol Hill. It’s a wonder to be there at sunset to see the city all lit up. One can see the straight, grid street pattern set up by Brigham Young. It is said that Young wanted all the roads in Salt Lake City to be very, very wide (remember this is back in the 1800s) so that when one had to make a U turn with their horse cart, they would not have to swear! And, now a days, it’s very common to see people make U turns in their vehicles at any part of the street- at the intersection, mid street, basically almost anywhere in the city (not highways) is fair game for making a U turn. The 30 second walk signal is typically not enough time to cross these wide streets and avenues even if you are a brisk walker! Note that Ensign Peak is not only a trail used frequently by locals, but is a tourist attraction of sorts and gets super busy during tourist season. This may be because it’s free! No need to pay to use the trail or park – unless you park after hours. Keep your eyes on the parking sign boards as tickets for parking violations here are pretty steep (as we unfortunately found out).

View of the Salt Lake Valley from Ensign Peak.
View of the Salt Lake Valley from Ensign Peak.

Utah Historical Marker at Ensign Peak
Utah Historical Marker at Ensign Peak

Little Mountain Summit Trail

This trail, which is in Emigration Canyon was, in my opinion a 'little boring,' but maybe that’s a good thing as at least when we went in winter, it was not at all crowded. (People in Utah love to hike and all the trails are crowded. The amazing thing you will see is parents carrying babies up the mountain on their backs, shoulders or in their arms!) As this trail was part of the original pioneer trek, there was a historical marker at the trail head which stated that the first Mormon Pioneer party that came into [what is known today as] Salt Lake City came to this summit on July 21, 1847 (a few days before Pioneer Day). From here, it was all downhill. Interestingly, it took them three more days to make it from this point to the "This is the Place" place where Brigham Young apparently said, "This is the Place" - the mouth of Emigration Canyon that looks into the Salt Lake Valley. The road that connects this marker to the This is the Place Historical Park is about 8 miles from this trailhead. But, this road did not exist in 1847, so I wonder what path they actually took. (The elevation of this marker is 6232, the elevation of the This is the Place park is about 4900.) Take a look at the video I made of that trek.

Our trek of the Little Mountain Trail at Emigration Canyon.

Interesting Utah Cultural Facts/Utah or Western US Culture vs. East Coast Culture

Utah certainly has a different culture than New York State. Many from India who want to work with Utahns have reached out to me for ideas on how to strike up relationships with born and bred Utahns. Of course, I am no born and bred Utahn, I am a transplant, so I did ask around and learned a little about the culture by just living here. Though, I have to say, that living in downtown Salt Lake City is pretty unique. Here, there are more transplants (out of towners, out of staters and expats) than even a few miles outside of the city. Most of the people we meet downtown are not from Utah! But, when I have interacted with Utahns, I have learned the following:

  1. In general, Utahns are very friendly. They will help you with directions. People smile and want to make small talk with you. And, just to be clear, I have not been approached by a Utah Mormon to be converted (I only say that as many people have asked me this, so I am addressing it here).
  2. Utahns, unlike those from ‘back East’ (like me) are more relaxed about time. If a meeting is supposed to start at 2, it may start a little after 2. Some professional events I have been at have even started up to 15-20 minutes after the start time, which would be very strange in New York State.
  3. Utahns make small talk in a different way than in New York. And, transplants here also pick up these habits, to some extent. Local Utahns, when they meet each other in professional events ask each other which high school they graduated from. If they meet a woman (typically I have seen this between two women), they may ask her maiden name (that would be a big no-no in New York!). And, yes, some may ask which church they go to (meaning Mormon church). While I have heard of such a question being asked in south eastern states, in Utah, it may be even more direct, such as “Are you LDS?” I have had many (both Utahns and transplants) ask me that.
  4. One may wonder how in the world does a Utahn know I am not a Utahn? Well, I guess it’s my accent that gives it away. Right off the bat, many think I am from Minnesota or I think I even got North Dakota as a guess once! Utah and especially Salt Lake City is known for one of the most neutral accents in the US (hence there were a lot of call centers in this area for the longest time). In fact, when Utahns hear me speak, sometimes to start the conversation, they will ask me about my accent. While asking about a foreigner’s accent can be problematic, I don’t mind these questions at all. It helps me understand the local culture. I have been asked about my accent in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and surrounding areas. It’s very rare that anyone places me in New York, which I find fascinating.
  5. As noted earlier, Utahns may experience life with a different (relaxed) approach to time as compared to East Coasters. So, due to this, some Utahns we have met are so relaxed. I have never met such relaxed people. It’s just such a unique and rare trait that as a born and bred New York Stater, I can’t explain at all, but I really like it and wish I could have that approach to life!
  6. Because of the different approach to time and relaxed attitude people in Utah (Colorado, Wyoming, and the Intermountain West) are typically known to work to live and not live to work like East Coasters. In fact, when Utahns meet me and I stop and talk with them, and they somehow find out I am from New York State (not the City, thank you very much!), they often comment, “How are you so friendly? You actually don’t seem to be in a rush and impatient!” We then share some stereotypes we have of our own cultures within the US. 
  7. Be on alert that if and when you meet your Utah business partner in person, and want to take them for drinks or food, to be on the safe side, if you don't know their religion, take them to a place that has a wide range of drinks (not just caffeine or alcohol, assure there are non-alcoholic or non-caffienated options). I know from experience, and made this mistake. Fortunately, my business partner understood and was able to get herbal tea. I think most people understand, especially those in Salt Lake City as they realize many do drink sodas and coffee. Though, take note there are many old fashioned soda shops in Utah and Idaho that make non-caffeinated sodas. These are really tasty. Some coffee shops also make these kinds of drinks as well - often called Italian sodas. 

A menu in a popular Utah soda shop
Above - A menu in a popular Utah soda shop.
Below - Soda shop building - in Idaho.
Authentic Journeys is not promoting this
shop. This image and any mention of a company is for descriptive purposes only.
Soda shop in Idaho

As a side note, another interesting piece of information I learned after talking with Utah Mormons about their culture is that it is felt that Mormons outside of Utah think Mormons in Utah feel they are superior (hence, there is actually a term ‘Utah Mormons’ to describe this). While Utah Mormons don’t feel this way, it seems that [some] Mormons outside of Utah may feel this way. I grew up in upstate/central New York. Near Rochester, New York is a small town called Palmrya, the birthplace of Joseph Smith a founder of the Mormon religion (I am writing as I talk, so I may need to be corrected here), so I grew up going to school with Mormons. My classmates who were Mormons did not drink soda (unless it was orange or root beer – which is also pretty popular in Utah – root beer floats are the BOMB in Utah), and they often (especially the girls) dressed more conservatively than the rest of us. While I was a little bit aware of the Mormon religion in New York State (we also have attended the pageant in Palmyra- what an event!), one really learns more about it in Utah where many claim the link between church and state has not been severed. So, due to that Utah culture may be heavily influenced by The Church, where as Mormons living in other states in the US may not see [as many of] their values reflected in the local laws or approaches to life.

I enjoy learning about different cultures, trying to understand how different people tick and some of their mannerisms, cultural traits and ways to approach life. Living in Utah has helped me to see a different view of the world than living in New York State or even India has. I wish to live in other states in the US to learn other local cultures. Maybe, someday later, we will get a chance to live in Louisiana to understand and learn more about the Creole culture, where, like Utah, a religion may play more of a prominent role in day to day life and policies, and, also like Utah, Louisianans have a regional holiday (Mardi Gras). 

I hope you enjoyed this article. I am Jennifer Kumar. I currently live in Salt Lake City and provide cross cultural training to virtual teams working across global borders. Hope to be in touch with you! Happy Pioneer Day to those who celebrate! 

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Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.