Developing Sanity in Human Affairs

By Susan Presby Kodish; Robert P. Holston | Go to book overview

12
A North-South Bridge of General Semantics: The Cross-Cultural Approach in an International and a National Environment

Laura Bertone


THE NORTH--AN INTERNATIONAL SETTING

Fifty years ago, on the West Coast of the United States, a group of men helped make an old dream come true: the acknowledgement of human differences, the quest for unity, the search for peace. The United Nations was born.

A decade later in Argentina, my childhood was permeated by those ideals. It often happens in the South that people feel dis-connected: Confusion and lack of hope come hand in hand with nondevelopment. It is often difficult to look inside; normally we look around and get stimulus from our close environment; in some cases, we tend to look back, or away. In my case, I looked North. And it was important for me to know, while growing up, that there were in the world men thinking of other men, men looking ahead, making efforts today to foresee and avoid conflict tomorrow. It did me good to feel that there were people far away thinking of us and of others far away in time.

Up North some men believed that getting together and talking things over was a means to evolve. That inspired me with admiration and respect. That filled me with enthusiasm. I wanted to see those men in action and learn from them. I believed in their work and I wanted, if possible, to contribute with my very modest talents, to their aims. I became an interpreter and eventually left for France.

As a Paris-based conference interpreter, I had the privilege of being an active witness to hundreds of seminars, conferences and congresses that brought together some of the most brilliant men and women of our time. I learned a lot.

I kept my eyes and my ears wide open. I wanted to improve myself, to understand how people functioned and how language was, sometimes, at work. I was often fascinated by the wonderful meticulous descriptions of certain processes, by the flexibility and the negotiating ability of certain speakers, the originality of certain outlooks and the magic blend of ideas, emotions and

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