Astronaut Donald Williams, who flew Discovery and Atlantis space shuttle missions, said that seeing Earth from space changes your perspective. “The things we share in our world,” he said, “are far more valuable than those which divide us.”
At UALR we are committed to providing our students with a global perspective that is both over-arching and nuanced. There are many challenges when dealing with other cultures. Things commonplace to Americans can be offensive to others. We work to prepare our students to understand not only the context of other countries, but also the all-important details that can trip up a relationship or business transaction.
Whether it is a rice farmer in Stuttgart who ships his crop to China, one of our many multinational corporations sending employees around the globe, or communications on the Internet, our world is interconnected in ways not imagined 20 years ago.
Here at UALR we have over 300 students from more than 60 countries on campus. Our faculty come from a wide range of countries, including Romania, China, Canada, and Zimbabwe.
We are also excited that this fall we will host 10 students from Rwanda. After the massacre took the lives of many of that country’s educated citizens, their government is now sending their best and brightest students overseas to help re-educate and rebuild their population. We will help them do just that as part of our desire to be good global citizens.
As our state’s economy changes from agriculture and manufacturing to more emphasis on technology and science, our citizens need to be able to collaborate and compete with colleagues from the other side of the world. When we all contribute to the global knowledge base, we will make advances more quickly.
The advantages are not only economic. It has been said that doing business internationally is a peace-keeping force. A beneficial partnership keeps everyone at the table and interested in working out their differences.
Having a better understanding of the people with whom we share the planet will help us all in the long run.