Friday, September 24, 2010

“We must promote multilingualism in our schools” (Rep. Judy Chu) – The Hill’s Congress Blog :The Cross-cultural Connector

Yesterday, President Obama gave his second annual back-to-school address.  In a speech to students at Julia R. Masterman School in Philadelphia, he urged them to take responsibility, work hard and dream big.

The words that really stood out to me, however, came at the end of his remarks when he said, “I want you to take away the notion that life is precious, and part of what makes it so wonderful is its diversity, that all of us are different.” I couldn’t agree more.

Unfortunately, the current system too often limits our students’ exposure to other cultures and languages. If we’re to fully embrace life’s wonderful diversity, this must change.

About a year ago, the President set a goal for our country to reclaim the highest college graduation rate in the world. It’s a worthy goal and one I strongly support, but it’s not enough. We don’t just need college graduates. We need college graduates ready to compete on the world’s stage.

Years ago, my mother immigrated to America at the age of 19, right before our country prohibited travel to China. For the next 25 years, she had virtually no contact with her family. But what isolated her even more was her inability to use English. Until she went to an adult education program to learn her second language, she never fully integrated into American society.

Today, the lack of a second language doesn’t just isolate people. It makes them less competitive. There’s a Spanish proverb that says, “The person who speaks two languages is worth two.” And that’s why neglecting foreign language instruction prevents students from realizing their full worth.

Lacking international knowledge and experience, many of today’s young Americans aren’t prepared for the increasingly global economy of tomorrow. This shortcoming limits our ability to address future international challenges. It restrains our relationships with other nations and could someday threaten our national security.

Moreover, studies show that learning a second language improves cognitive flexibility. Because dual language learners naturally consider multiple meanings for words, they’re better able to manage complex situations. And that’s a skill our next generation of supervisors and executives can all use.

That’s why legislation that creates a multilingual society is so important. These programs don’t just promote a second language; they advance the American workforce. Unfortunately, current instruction in our country lags behind our global competitors’. In Asia and Europe, the question is not whether you speak another language – it’s how many. (Read the Whole Story)

Fascinating story, and so true. Regarding international business, it is a well-known fact that (in foreign countries) “even those who can speak English always prefer to be sold in their own languages”. Your experience and opinion?

A.M. Sall

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Friday, September 10, 2010

The Global Office: How to run your business anywhere around the world – Part I (GlobalVision International) :The Cross-cultural Connector

I just got back from a 2.5 months overseas trip where I visited 5 countries in 2 continents. Since office chores never stop or can be put on hold for too long, I had to turn my office into a global office to keep the wheels churning while on the road!

Here are the first 5 out of 10 useful tips that you can use to help you deal with extended sojourns outside of the comfort of your home office.

1. Your constant companion and friend in you global office is your portable computer. Since you will be on the move, you need it to be light but powerful. If you are not already using a portable for your daily computer use, purchase one early, set it up immediately, and then get rid of your desktop. Make the portable your primary computer and use it for at least one full month before your scheduled departure. This will ensure that you have all the apps you need, with you when you travel. Your home office can be setup with the external drives, large screen, external full keyboard and mouse and all other handy appliances if you are used to having them. But when you travel, you want the maximum power with the minimum weight to get by with.

2. Once you’ve taken care of the portable, get a global phone. Technology today enables us to make and receive calls pretty much in any commercial country around the globe. Check your carrier and make sure that the same number and phone will work internationally, if not, get a global phone. While traveling, keep in mind that mobile phones are not as secure as land lines and can be very costly while roaming. You can pay upward of $2/min even on calls that you do not take. Inform your key clients and workers of your travel plans and ask them only to call in emergencies. Also, remind them of the difference in time zones.

P.S. Don’t be afraid to use the off switch on your phone when rest is warranted!

3. For free international calls to the USA, bring a Vonage, Ooma or Magic Jack with you. I have used both Vonage and Ooma and the Ooma Telo stopped working after a few days. Ooma’s support was very slow! Vonage worked non-stop my entire stay. You can even forward your home office calls to it.

4. Email is of paramount importance and the centerpiece of the global office. The issue is not to have an email account, but to have A. a reliable internet connection everywhere you go, and B. to train everyone that you deal with to communicate with you by email and not by phone. Email is very cost-friendly and convenient and will allow you to be in control of your own time.

5. Most of us nowadays use online banking. When you travel internationally, you may need more than the basic features. You will need to be able to perform account reviews and transfers, pay checks online, and monitor your credit card transactions. But you may also need to make payments to overseas vendors, so look into online wire transfers options– they can now be handled online in all commercial currencies.

Depositing checks still requires someone checking your snail mail and looking out for them. Checks can however be scanned to the bank for electronic deposit. (Read the Whole Story)

Very interesting: You can run your business from anywhere in the world (Also remember Part II!), and please come back here to give us your opinions and experiences :-)

Amadou M. Sall

Posted via email from amsall's posterous