University's Study Abroad Mission Statement (see the Handbook) provides the
essential reasoning for participating in educational experiences beyond the
Reinhardt campus. We live in a global community, and Reinhardt students must be
prepared to function effectively in that interconnected global community no
matter what their future career. For those of you planning a career in the
business world, the following essay may provide you with further motivation for
gaining an international education.
Business and Society Has Gone Global, But the American People Have Not By John Jarvis, Ph.D., Bay Path University
the end of the twentieth century, globalization has transformed the ways we
live, work, and play. American business people
and tourists make 50 million trips outside of the U. S. each year. An
additional 50 million foreign visitors come to our shores annually. Foreign tourists alone pump $100 billion into
our economy each year, supporting over 1 million jobs. The globalization of U.
S. investment and industry is even more impressive. Overseas investment by Americans is nearing
the trillion-dollar mark. Foreign investment in the U. S. is close behind and
growing. Increasingly, the annual revenues of American businesses come from
outside the U. S. Colgate-Palmolive
Company pulls in 70% of its yearly income from overseas. Intel earns almost 50% of annual revenues
from foreign sales. Over 40% of Reebok's yearly sales take place in 139
countries around the globe. Worldwide,
these sales add up. In fact, overseas branches of multinational corporations
currently bring in annual sales of a sobering six trillion dollars to those
companies that have pushed beyond their own borders.
in the past few years has also expressed itself through the acquisition of
American firms by foreign owners at a much-increased rate. Such icons of
American life as Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King, and Holiday Inn are no longer
American. Foreigners now own thousands of U.S. companies. Five million people
in the U. S. work for employers who live overseas, and the numbers are growing
every day. What is happening here at home is happening everywhere. Worldwide,
global corporate mergers are skyrocketing. They totaled 6000 in 1997. In the
first half of 1998 alone, the value of cross-border business mergers boomed to
a cool trillion dollars.
the past three decades, every aspect of U. S. business and society has gone
global except one -- the American people.
At the very time that vast networks of communication, transportation,
trade, finance, technology transfer, and politics have made the world a single
community, the American people have remained largely monolingual, monocultural,
and unaware of what is going on in the rest of the world. This is creating one of the most serious and
most costly problems which leaders in business, industry, and government
face. Consider the facts:
Only about 7% of American college
graduates take at least one course in a foreign language. This is less than half of the number of
college students who studied foreign languages thirty years ago.
Americans often assume that the rest of
the world is learning English. Therefore
many feel that they do not need to learn a foreign language. In reality, although English is the second
most spoken language on Earth, only 8.5% of the world's people speak it. This includes native speakers and those who
have learned English as a second language.
Americans are three to four times more
likely to fail in overseas assignments than Asian or European workers. Experts in international employee training
have found that this high failure rate (25% of all U. S. workers sent abroad)
is due to the inability of Americans to adapt to new cultures.
It can cost a company up to $1 million
in wasted resources and other expenses when an employee comes home prematurely
from an overseas assignment. It can be
even more costly if the employee does not come home prematurely but rather
stays on the job abroad and regularly offends overseas clients and partners
through ignorance, personal frustrations and negative attitudes towards the
host culture that accompany the lack of cultural adaptation.
Studying Abroad Can Make a Difference
who choose to study overseas can start now to develop the essential language
and intercultural communication skills that will make them leaders in their
fields in the years ahead. As students,
they have both the time and the institutional support to help them focus on
learning how to cross cultures successfully.
Furthermore, they are still young and much more flexible in their
personal habits and cultural attitudes than they will be later when established
in their careers and families.
student who takes seriously the opportunity to study in a foreign land can
expect to develop the following kinds of understandings and skills:
The ability to communicate in at least one
A better understanding of how different one
culture can be from another and how deeply we are limited if we only know one way of living, thinking, feeling,
The ability to set aside one's
"home" culture and to bridge to new cultures in your attitudes,
behaviors, and ways of productively seeing and solving problems.
The ability to lead America with greater
understanding and confidence into the 21st century through successful
day-to-day interactions in the global workplace that has become a reality in
every field and every discipline.
A deeper understanding of the human
experience in all its varieties and global diversity.
The five qualities above are marketable skills in the
corporate world, and are at the heart of what employers in the U. S. and around
the world are most looking for in new hires as we enter what many are calling
the "global" century. Students
who study abroad can turn lack of international awareness, currently one of the
greatest weaknesses in America, into one of their greatest personal strengths
as they launch careers in their chosen fields.
On a personal level, these students will have the human understanding and
global awareness that will help them to live meaningful lives as informed
citizens of the global community.