We live in a rapidly shrinking global village. Consider the case of Gloria A. Holland, director of the Office of Business and Employee Training at Anne Arundel Community College.
She recently visited South Africa to gain ideas for a program to train future business leaders in that country of some 50 million people which gained majority rule last year.
After decades of white minority rule, the whole South African economy is now open to all races. The problem is that, as a legacy of apartheid, few blacks or Indians have the appropriate education or skills.
"They are very much like we were in the '60s with the (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) except they've got a worse situation," says Ms. Holland, a Glen Burnie resident.
"In the '60s, we weren't dealing with global competition, corporate downsizing and technology driving us the way it is today. They've got to come up to speed faster."
This fall, Ms. Holland will travel to Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., to help faculty members there develop a six-month credit curriculum out of the information she gathered from her overseas trip. Promising South African managers, sponsored by their companies, will then come to the United States for intensive training and internships.
Why did Ms. Holland get involved in this project? Because she had worked with Bill G. Clutter, Fairleigh Dickinson's dean of continuing education, when he held a similar job at Arundel Community College, which shows how important personal contacts are in today's business and academic worlds.
Because of Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Westinghouse, several large federal installations and U.S. branches of foreign firms, Anne Arundel County is in an enviable position to get to know the global village and take advantage of business, cultural and academic opportunities.
This recognition of global connections is a reason behind the new French immersion class at Crofton Woods Elementary School.
It is also why such events as the current exhibit at St. John's College in Annapolis of Japanese woodblock prints are important. They broaden our horizons and link us to the global village. The colorful images of Kabuki actors, ships, warriors and musicians are fascinating. They make us realize that despite all our differences, other cultures share many of our experiences.