As the child of a German immigrant, Helen Park Jameson learned to appreciate cultural differences from an early age.
Jameson’s mother came to the United States on a nursing exchange program after World War II. She met and married Jameson’s father, a professor at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, and spent decades contributing to the college’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
Jameson said in many ways her new Coralville business, Culture Friendly Consulting, is an extension of her mother’s legacy.
“After witnessing horrific acts during the war, my mother was passionate about inclusion as an adult,” Jameson said. “She was, and always will be, a major influence in my work and in my life.”
The mission of Culture Friendly Consulting is to help people connect across their cultural differences. The business offers customized consulting services, training, and coaching to organizations and individuals to develop and improve their cultural competencies.
Services range from workforce diversity and inclusion training to cross-cultural conflict resolution to instruction in cultural etiquette.
Jameson’s new business is a natural, considering her upbringing and experience.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” she said. “It’s my life mission as well as my professional mission.”
Jameson made her first trip abroad, to visit relatives in Germany, at age three. She went on to obtain master’s degrees in intercultural administration and education and spent 25 years working with international students studying in American universities and colleges.
In 2011, Jameson received a Fulbright Award for her studies on post-secondary education in Japan.
Jameson said the timing is right for Culture Friendly Consulting, which is the only business of its kind in the area to her knowledge.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the foreign-born population in Iowa has more than tripled since 1990, to an estimated 4.3 percent of the population. That number is projected to go even higher.
“Diversity is more and more on the top of the agenda in Iowa,” Jameson said. “The Creative Corridor needs to attract and grow businesses and workforce. My clients recognize we’re now living in a state and community where we’ll need cultural competency skills in order to succeed.”
Jameson’s recent projects include training bank employees on working with international customers and developing teaching modules on instruction in a diverse classroom for a community college.
Beginning this spring, Culture Friendly Consulting will hold a series cultural etiquette dinners at local Chinese, Indian and other ethnic restaurants. Native facilitators will instruct dinner guests on the customs, etiquette and food of the culture for those planning a trip abroad or simply wanting to learn about another culture.
Registration will be available through the company’s website -- www.culturefriendly.com.
Jameson said she is excited to share the things she has learned over the years.
“I love seeing the light bulbs go off in people’s heads as they think about diversity and ways to implement inclusion in their organizations.”
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