Thursday, 19 December 2013


We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Every person that passes through our lives makes a contribution to our life stories, some of them play large roles and make deep impressions, others make a brief appearance and then take another direction but all of them create a meaningful connection with us.    

It is always at Christmas time that we tend to start reconnecting with our past and ourselves, remembering Christmas from long ago and people who we have not seen for quite a while. We start counting our blessings as the year ends.

This Christmas I would like to thank all my friends (old and new), colleagues and mentors for the impression they made in my life. Allow me, as well, to express my warmest wishes for a bright new year  fulfilling all your hopes and professional aspirations.



Monday, 25 November 2013


I strongly believe that each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others, this is much more so if we are educators.

As the effect of a seemingly insignificant word passes from person to person, its impact grows and can become a source of great joy, inspiration, anxiety, or pain.  

The impact we have on the world is greater than we could ever imagine, and the choices we make can have far-reaching consequences. As educators we need to be very much aware of this since more often than not we become role models for our students.

Every time  the opportunity arises, I think we should try to be kind to others since the recipient of a good deed will likely feel compelled to do a good deed for someone else. 
A smile directed at a stranger, a compliment given to a friend, an attitude of laughter, or a thoughtful gesture can  snowball until it becomes a group movement among your loved ones and associates, your community, and finally throughout the world.

I am convinced we have the power to touch the lives of everyone  we come into contact with and everyone those people come into contact with.  
For worksheets and teaching material visit

Thursday, 31 October 2013

 The Gift of You


There are many ways to be of service to our community. There are the obvious and much needed volunteer opportunities, such as serving Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, mentoring our youth, or cleaning up a beach. Then, there is the kind of service that we may not even think of as being acts of service. Learning a new language (perhaps sign language…or English, Chinese, etc.) so that you can talk to more people is a way to reach out to others. Inviting someone who isn’t motivated enough to exercise on their own to join you on your daily walk is a way to give of yourself.   

There are many ways that you can serve the world. Imagine the impact we would have on the environment if we picked up one piece of trash off the street everyday. Everyday, you can do something to make this world a better place. Giving of yourself is the best gift that you can give
(Adapted from The Daily OM)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Lost in (Greetings) Translation

Last week I was in Singapore giving a talk organised by a German bank to an audience of mainly Asian women. Though I was 7,000 miles from home, and seven hours ahead of myself, I felt weirdly comfortable. Big banks are reassuringly like McDonald’s: they are the same the world over. Everyone speaks English, all the women wear the same Diane von Furstenberg dresses and carry the same fancy handbags.
Yet in the middle of the sameness, there is one thing that refuses to go global: how people greet each other. Over and over again last week I found myself at a loss. Ought I to kiss the American woman at whose house I had just eaten dinner? I made a lunge for her cheek, just as she was stepping backwards with a smile and a friendly goodnight.

I read the above  in the Financial Times today "Do we hug? Kiss? Shake hands? Bow? We need to be told" and was surprised at the thought that greeting someone in a social/working environment was an issue. Will it be because as Latin Americans we may be very inclined to throwing ourselves to the arms and the cheeks of anybody who stands in front of us with a smile and a Hello? We Peruvians have gone through all sorts of problems with terrorism and delinquency but, in spite of the understandable luck of trust, we still kiss people in the cheek when we meet no matter what the occasion –job or gathering- is. I am very interested in cultural issues and Lucy Kellaway is one of my favourite columnists so I went on reading:

Still trickier was deciding how to greet a group consisting of an Indian woman, a Chinese man and an Australian woman. All four of us hopped from one foot to another uncertainly, opting eventually for no greeting at all.
This sort of thing has always been a problem but it is getting worse. In the old days, the principle was when-in-Rome. So when actually in Rome you kissed on both cheeks anyone you knew reasonably well. In Holland, it was three cheeks. In Russia you might expect a crushing bear hug, in Japan a nod and in India hands clasped and a namaste. In the US and Germany you could look forward to a bonecrusher of a handshake, in the Middle East something more like a limp fish.
Global business has made matters more complicated. We no longer know whose culture trumps whose. Is it the host country’s? Is it the majority in the room? As no one seems to know, what tends to happen is a general confusing, embarrassing free-for-all. We live in a permanent state of hello hell.
I couldn´t believe my eyes! Saying hello has become  “a permanent state of hello hell” at this global business level!
Some time ago I tutored a video conference course: Global Understanding Seminar where different topics were discussed by university students of different countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, etc. However, none of the topics and - from what I recall- none of the tutors or course directors ever thought of having a session on Greetings. How interesting!

The article goes on:
Now an even more unwelcome form of greeting has arrived: the hug. This is how young Anglo-Saxons routinely greet each other outside work, but now they have started doing it in the office too. The hug represents far too much touching for my liking, but is also devilishly hard to get right: there is the full hug, the side hug, and the hug accompanied by a slap on the back.

How unfortunate! We like hugs and as  Peruvians I suppose there is nothing wrong with bear hugs, apparently, at business levels hugging is unconceivable.
Near the end of the article, Lucy suggests…

As the market has failed to find a solution, the only answer is some kind of regulation. There is a desperate need for a Global Greetings Protocol, an agreement that all companies and nations would be encouraged to sign up to that would establish firm rules for everyone to follow.
The GGP would be beautifully simple and go something like this: “In a business context the only permissible greeting is a handshake. The shake must be medium-firm and medium-brief. It does not apply to a) colleagues who see each other frequently and b) groups of more than six people, as shaking would take too long.”

 I suppose businessmen  or top executives, especially male, are ok with this but something inside me tells me that if a Global Greetings Protocol is needed, we still need to go a long way in our pursue of understanding other cultures.
The end of the article reads

Not only would embarrassment be brought to an end, the brain would then be free to do what it is good at: concentrate on those first impressions that matter so much in business, without having to worry about hands, arms, heads, lips and cheeks.
If greeting a business colleague has turned into such an issue that one of my favourite  columnists of the Financial Times devotes a whole page to describe her despair, something must be done about it. We, educators, may have to rethink the topics of cross-cultural syllabi in our institutions and start familiarizing students with the different kinds of greetings and how important it would be to limit themselves to a handshake whenever they need to greet business partners . Invited to dinner? Do your homework and find out how the average people greet in the place you are visiting so as not to  embarrass yourself or hurt any deep feelings.
You can read the original article  here


Wednesday, 18 September 2013


Are the competences that institutions of higher education provide what professionals need?

According to a research conducted in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Spain, Mexico and Peru by Universia, Peruvian graduates are not so satisfied with the level obtained when culminating their university majors. Satisfaction percentage of Peruvian graduates is 59% compared to over 70% obtained by Colombia and Argentina.The main reason for this dissatisfaction is the difficulty graduates face to get a job immediately after graduating. Only 33% could get a job that relates to what they majored in while the rest had to take whatever job available.

So what kind of knowledge, skills and attitudes should a remarkable professional display? Human Resources experts say that the core skills are not enough, professionals need to develop competences that provide them with adaptability, ability to learn and willingness to improve (soft skills).

 I strongly believe that as teachers we must promote the development of soft skills in the classroom as a way of helping our students meet the demand for future professionals. See summary of the articles and professional competences in the link.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A month ago (July 2013), I had the pleasure to gather with this incredible bunch of people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were all there because they want to do great things with their lives, at personal and professional level. Except for Dr. Saaty, in the middle of the picture, who already enjoys the peace that comes from a well-lived life, they are all still in the pursue of knowledge and success. However, they do not forget that they are human beings that have understood that the key to life is service to others.


Every day I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing and while, shirking pain, misses happiness as well.
Mary Cholmondeley

Friday, 19 July 2013


I am away from home teaching a course in a management training course in the US and having been here for over fifteen days I have started missing my house until I read

what I am going to quote below:

The word “home” has a wide variety of connotations. To some, home is merely a place where basic needs are addressed. To others, home is the foundation from which they draw their strength and tranquility. Still, others view home as a place inexorably linked to family. Yet all these definitions of home imply somewhere we can be ourselves and are totally accepted. There, we feel safe enough to let down our guard, peaceful enough to really relax, and loved enough to want to return day after day.
However, these qualities need not be linked to a single space or any space at all. Home is where the heart is and can be the locale you live in, a community you once lived in, or the country where you plan to live someday. Or home can be a feeling you carry inside yourself, wherever you are.
Your home can be any space or state of being that fulfills you, provided you are at peace with yourself and your surroundings. A person can feel like home to you, as can seasons and activities. If you feel disconnected from what you once thought of as home, your detachment may be a signal that you are ready to move one. Simply put, you will know you have found your home when both your physical environment and energetic surroundings are in harmony with the individual you are within.

Monday, 17 June 2013

A new level of Mastery

Life is a circular journey through our issues and processes, and this is why things that are technically new often seem very familiar. It is also why, whenever we work to release a habit, change a pattern, or overcome a fear, we often encounter that issue one last time, even after we thought we had conquered it. Often, when this happens, we feel defeated or frustrated that after all our hard work we are still dealing with the same problem. However, the reappearance of a pattern, habit, or fear, is often a sign that we have come full circle, and that if we can maintain our resolve through one last test, we will achieve a new level of mastery in our lives.


When we come full circle, there is often the feeling that we have arrived in a familiar place, but that we ourselves are somehow different. We know that we can handle challenges that seemed insurmountable when we began our journey, and there is the feeling that we might be ready to take on a new problem, or some new aspect of the old problem. We feel empowered and courageous to have taken on the challenge of stopping a pattern, releasing a habit, or overcoming a fear, and to have succeeded.

From Daily Om:

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Going with the flow means we are open to multiple ways of getting where we want to be.

Going with the flow doesn’t mean that we don’t know where we’re going; it means that we are open to multiple ways of getting there, that we are open to changing our destination, clinging more to the essence of our goal than to the particulars. We acknowledge that letting go and modifying our plans is part of the process. 
Many of us are afraid of going with the flow because we don’t trust that we will get where we want to go if we do. This causes us to cling to plans that aren’t working, stick to routes that are obstructed, and obsess over relationships that aren’t fulfilling.
When you find yourself stuck in these kinds of patterns, trust that the big river of your life has a plan for you and let it carry you onward. Throw overboard those things that are weighing you down. Be open to revising your maps. Take a deep breath and move into the current.
(Adapted from

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Shifting with the tide

Since our lives are constantly in motion energetically, change is a constant element of our existence.  We think positive thoughts and the world becomes a brighter place. Or we decide who we want to be and become that person. With each passing moment, we are given innumerable opportunities to create change using nothing more than our awareness.

Many, if not most, of the choices we make each day are a product of instantaneous reactions, and these still have a significant impact on the energy of our existence. It is for this reason that we should learn to wield what control we can over these shifts. If we bear in mind that all we think and all we do will shape the existence we know, we can deliberately direct the energetic motion of our lives.

Each day, you make an infinite array of decisions that cause energy shifts in the world around you. In many cases, these transitions are almost imperceptible, while in others the change that takes place is palpable not only to you but also to those in your sphere of influence. Your awareness of the immediate energetic consequences of your thoughts and actions can guide you as you endeavor to make the most of the autonomy that defines you as an individual. The myriad choices you make from moment to moment, however inconsequential they may seem, represent your personal power, which sanctions you to transform the energetic tide of your existence with nothing more than your will.
(Extracted from "The Daily Om" )

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Happy Mother´s Day !!!

On Mother's Day I have written a poem for you. In the interest of poetic economy and truth, I have succeeded in concentrating my deepest feelings and beliefs into two perfectly crafted lines:

You're my mother,

I would have no other!

~Forest Houtenschil

Friday, 15 February 2013

Please click on the voice recording below to hear a meditation from Anne Wilson Schaef on "Gifts" taken from one of my favourite books: "Meditations for WOMEN who do Too much"

Audio and voice recording >>

Friday, 11 January 2013


We women who do too much find the ending of an old year and the beginning of a new year to be a difficult time. There is always the temptation to try to “tidy up” all our loose ends as the old year closes. We fall into the trap of believing that it is possible to get our entire life “caught up” before starting a new year, and we are determined to do it.

Also, there is the temptation to set up an elaborate set of resolutions for the coming year so that we can, at last, get it right. As workaholics, we tend to be very hard on ourselves: nothing less than perfection is enough. Hopefully, on these first days of the year, we will be able to remember that we are perfect just as we are.
(Taken from Meditations for Women who do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef)