LARGE ABROAD: JAMAICANS FINDING SUCCESS OVERSEAS Emerald Isle interculturalist
INTERCULTURAL TRAINING is a booming business in Europe. The multi-ethnic nature of the continent makes cultural tolerance one of the key ingredients which continues to shape European integration. It was the recognition of this fact that led Dr Livingstone Thompson to set up his Irelandbased cultural training agency, Living Cultural Solutions (LCS).
LCS specialises in intercultural training, cultural awareness and cultural competence training, diversity awareness and management training. The agency provides support to businesses and organisations, across Ireland and Europe, in how to optimise the benefit of cultural diversity to improve efficiency and productivity.
An intellectual entrepreneur of sorts, Thompson told The Gleaner that he got the idea for the business through the application of postgraduate research he had conducted for his doctorate in religious pluralism, with a thesis that focused on intercultural theology and world religions
As the principal of LCS, he has worked with a variety of companies, delivering training in cultural competence and leading Dr Livingstone Thompson’s published works.
global virtual teams. He has provided training for Ireland’s largest hotel group and German electric utility service provider E.ON International. He also developed the diversity and inclusion training manual and workbook for the Malta Tourism Authority, currently being used by tourism organisations throughout the islandcountry. Thompson also delivers workshops in cultural competence for tourism organisations in Malta, Ireland and the Caribbean.
The former deputy head boy
of Manchester High School, who served as a minister in the Moravian Church while in Jamaica, migrated to Ireland to pursue postgraduate studies.
“I arrived with my family in Ireland in August 1999 to pursue postgraduate studies, first at the Irish School of Ecumenics and later Trinity College, University of Dublin. I first completed the MPhil in ecumenics and later the PhD,” he said in response to questions from The Gleaner. Dr Livingstone Thompson speaks during a training programme in Finland.
Thompson pointed out that Irish aside, there are many the family’s transition to Ireland opportunities for highly educated was made easy by the help of an Jamaicans in Ireland. Irish family, who were gracious “The Jamaicans in Ireland in helping them to settle in the include people who are country and with finding jobs. performing extremely well in
“My first jobs in Ireland, education, business, community which I landed while pursuing development, accounting and studies, was as teacher of mathematics finance, tourism and in health, and computing at a particularly nursing and social vocational school and a salesman working,” he said. for computer products at a He also indicated that there large computer store. After are opportunities to compete for completing my MPhil and while jobs in computing and related pursuing my PhD, I started industries and the pharmaceutical lecturing in theology and church sector. He, however, pointed history at the University of out that the knowledge-based Dublin, Trinity College. After economy of Ireland demands completing my PhD, I was then that jobseekers have a strong taken on as a lecturer in world educational background. religions and theology at “The government puts a lot of University of Dublin and Dublin emphasis on supporting innovation City University, where I also and research in technical supervised postgraduate fields, and there is a strong interest research,” he said while in start-ups, especially in explaining the various jobs he communications technology and held before setting up LCS. renewable energy,” he added.
The native of Wales, near Newport in Manchester, is proud of his Jamaican heritage as it has taught him to be passionate, hard-working, politically aware and assertive, when necessary; this, he said, has ensured his survival in the Irish republic.
“Jamaica gave me a sharp eye for the machinations of power and the virtue of not allowing oneself to be pushed around. Jamaica taught me the value of having a good sense of humour, to relax and enjoy life and even to laugh at myself. In Jamaica, I inculcated strong Christian values and a religious outlook at life and the world. All these have served me well living in Ireland,” he said.
Thompson was ordained in 1983 and has served at every level of leadership within the Moravian Church in Jamaica. His interest in intercultural studies seems to have grown from his active involvement in the ecumenical community through his work with several interfaith organisations in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
In addition to running his cultural training agency, the theologian now serves as the minister of two Moravian churches in Northern Ireland, where he is based. His wife, who accompanied him to Ireland, is a viceprincipal at a primary school in the Emerald Isle. The couple has three daughters, two are currently pursuing careers in tourism and accounting and the youngest is still in secondary school.
SERVED AS PRESIDENT
Thompson, who between 2013 and 2015 served as president of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research, Europe’s largest association of interculturalists, has learnt many lessons from his time in the Emerald Isle.
“I am constantly reminded of how significantly cultural orientation impacts communications. Jamaicans tend to speak directly and their words usually mean what they say. In Ireland, speech is more indirect and coded; words sometimes conceal true intentions and views are not necessary honestly expressed, in order not to offend,” he explained.
The cultural nuances of the