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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yes College Students Should Study Abroad

I just finished reading a great article titled, The New Global Skill Set by Don Asher. He outlines , how colleges are now requiring overseas study as part of their graduation requirement. I think this is great.

I have had the opportunity to work abroad fro the last four years and have enjoyed every part of the experience.

Don spoke with several global managers and one quote stood out to me and I paraphrase, Bradley A. Feuling , "strong project management skills and and diverse cultural knowledge" are essential traits of managers overseeing functions in multiple parts of the world.

The world is rapidly catching up to the United States, in technical know how, however, they are not giving up their cultural heritage. Thus the ability to have empathy toward our differences becomes a valuable asset in any global work we do.

I have met many individuals in Asia that speak a minimum of three languages, the language of their native country, English, and one other (French, Japanese, or Chinese). We as Americans should learn to speak multiple languages as well.

Having just returned from a trip to Cambodia I was surprised to learn the Cambodian people have a fascination with learning other languages; I met nine year old children that could hold a full conversation in English and a basic conversation in Japanese (with my teenagers). After inquiring further I learned the Cambodians see this as the path to future opportunity.

Don's article goes on to recommend studying abroad for at least a semester. Again I strongly agree. When I have spent a month or more in a country I begin to appreciate the subtly of the cultures and truly appreciate the beauty of the rest of the world.

I sincerely hope this becomes standard curriculum for undergraduate and graduate programs throughout the US.

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