We were very pleased a couple of weeks ago to celebrate the 75th birthday of one of our beloved team members, George Simons, the prolific co-author of seven packages in our CD series, lifelong diversity and cross-cultural professional, and devoted mentor to so many.
It struck me that you might enjoy seeing a couple of the ways in which he was celebrated. The first was in an entry in “Seven Billion Actions: a global movement for all humanity.” This is the site designed to showcase individuals who are actively working to make the UN Millennium Development Goals a reality. Cultural Detective is also honored to have a place on that site.
Another tribute to George that you might find interesting appeared in the Istanbul Post; a pdf version of that issue is available, with George’s profile on page 31. An English translation of the article is below:
Istanbul Post, Nr. 47, January/February 2013, istanbulpost.net.
On 12 January 2013 George Simons celebrated his 75th birthday. His life still bounces back and forth between the U.S.A. and France, and involves frequent trips elsewhere as a consultant and trainer. He also keeps himself busy developing networks.
Among those working to improve intercultural communication, George Simons is already a legend. He has participated in dozens of projects, written and contributed to many books and publications. One of these projects has been the Cultural Detective Turkey, a result of his collaboration with Dr. Perihan Ügeöz.
George Simons has been involved with culture and intercultural communication for decades. As a consultant to international companies and organizations, he has garnered experience by working in more than 40 countries. One reservoir into which his experience has been pooled is the Society for intercultural Education Training and Research (SIETAR). Another is the aforementioned Cultural Detective series of training materials where questions about many different countries appear.
Somewhat like the famous TV series detective Colombo, with his eye for detail and, at first glance, seemingly simple questions, he has he steadily contributed to the sensitive treatment of people from different cultures.
“Excuse me, sir, sir, just one more question…” Colombo, the detective, with his unique brand of disarming charm, always manages, thanks to his keen eye for what’s going on and his meticulous style, to stumble on a solution to the case. Colombo’s proven method, before passing judgment is always to ask lots of questions, playing along with the game to set the stage…. The Cultural Detective method gives participants a hands-on experience of how to become “cultural detectives.”
Cultural Detective works with case studies. These cases are not about murder and manslaughter. They are the true stories of people from the business world, who coming from different cultures, must bring off the difficult task of working together. Cultural Detective’s method puts a magnifying glass in your hand, with which you can discover the key cultural values of another society. The detective is called upon to empathize with the story and, loupe in hand, track down the core values that shape the behaviors and motives of the actors in the case histories. Not infrequently it is this lens that leads one to cry out, “Aha, now I understand! ”
Reflecting on oneself
One of the basic principles here is that understanding others begins, first of all with better understanding one’s own self. This is evident not only in the contributions of George Simons to the intercultural profession and in his trainings sessions, but is apparent in his opinion pieces and essays, mainly published in English in US American journals. Here, sometimes ironically and sometimes in the tradition of Lieutenant Colombo, he calls into question developments in U.S. society and invites readers to see things with a fresh perspective.