John Bing

Recently John reflected on his many years of experience:


Looking back, as I complete the decade of my 70s, it seems that we really did not do much good for the world.  We attempted to reduce inequality, but it has since increased, both between and within many countries, most especially the United States.  We tried to improve foreign assistance programs, but on the whole, that hasn't seemed to work much either, especially U.S. foreign assistance programs.  Some of us became involved in politics; I think that worked out better for those of who returned to so-called developing countries than for those who worked on U.S. politics. 


I think we must have missed something.  It is likely that the political/economic/social structures always tend to promote the interests of the powerful and the wealthy, as Marx said; perhaps change only comes after a cataclysm.  Well, in the U.S. it appears we are approaching one.


So I suppose my 77-year-old advice to new CIE students would be to temper expectations (but not enthusiasms), not to assume that change will come easily, if at all, and perhaps to focus on bettering individual lives of those you work with and for, rather than to believe that you will promote general change. However, if you see an opening to influence change on the macro level, take it.  Except for those of you who enter and succeed at politics (or revolutions), the rest of us should be content with cultivating the gardens near where we are.  Make the garden a better place, with more beauty, and more food.  That is not revolutionary, but it is not unimportant. [4-17]


Earlier comments on his journey after graduation:


I had no idea when I was a grad student at CIE that, after stints in the Peace Corps, the nonprofit world, and academia, I would end up in business. It just happened. And, when my time at my company ITAP International is done, I’ll be happy to return to some of those things that I wanted to do before I ended up in business.


ITAP provides training and consulting mostly to larger businesses, and mostly in the cross-cultural and competencies fields. The last few years have seen a geographic expansion of ITAP, from an exclusively domestic organization to one that has merged with a European partner, now with affiliates in Europe, Africa, and Asia. All this has been done on a shoestring (which came from my left shoe). My wife and partner Cass has been a leading force in marketing and professionalizing the organization.


But the work I most value is the development of assessment instruments, one of which measures individuals’ cultural profiles, which can then be compared to country profiles. These are quantitative measures based on the work of an extraordinary man, Geert Hofstede, a Dutchman and pioneer in the field of intercultural research whom I now call an old friend.


I am so pleased that the Center has continued its marvelous work over these many years and served so many students and communities from around the world. It is a very large and special legacy, unlike any other in the world.  [1/07]





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