Video: Highlights from the 2014 World Citizen Award Dinner

On Jun3 6th, 2014, the World Affairs Council of Charlotte recognized Michael Tarwater, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System as the 2014 World Citizen for his contributions and leadership to Charlotte, this region and the international community. The Council also honored, Wayne Cooper, Honorary Consul of Mexico to North Carolina for his commitment to and support of the international community in the Queen City and beyond.

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First Person Perspective – Jamie Smith: A First-Time Traveler in Jerusalem

Jamie Smith in front of the Western Wall

Photo: Jamie Smith standing in front of the Western Wall

As I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, my mind was flooded with expectations. For my first trip abroad, I was traveling to Jerusalem with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to work at an archaeological dig site. Our professor, Dr. James Tabor, led our group through customs and outside to our bus. I stepped outside and took in the scenery that was surprisingly green, unlike the sea of sand I was expecting. By the time I returned two weeks later, I had been exposed to everything from archaeology to culture.

We clambered on the bus after shoving our suitcases underneath. Our ears popped as we gained altitude on our way to Jerusalem. I looked out the window to see crops and cattle among small trees and shrubs. I tried not to look outside because it seemed that all of the traffic laws that are so important in the States were meaningless here. The painted lines on the highway were just for show. Drivers weaved in and out of traffic constantly. And signaling before changing lanes? Only if you got lucky. We hurtled down the highway at 80 mph. Although our bus driver was experienced, I still heaved a sigh of relief when we reached the hotel alive.

The next morning was our first at the dig. We weeded and cleaned the site to make it look like a proper excavation, and hauled buckets of dirt for most of the day. Archaeology is not just finding pottery shards or mosaic pieces. I was surprised to find that dirt removal is probably at least fifty percent of the excavation work. From 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. for five days a week, we worked at the dig. Afterward, we were free to sightsee and experience Jerusalem.

I walked through the streets and was shocked to see trash everywhere. I watched people finish a soda and drop the can right on the sidewalk. There were boxes and couches lying by the pavement. Jerusalem was always to described to me as the “holy city.” Christians revere Jerusalem because of Jesus’ ministry there. Jews venerate the city because it is the site of their Temple and the center of their religion. Muslims honor it because it is where Muhammad ascended into heaven. It didn’t cross my mind that this central destination wouldn’t have a garbage collection system. The only places to put waste were a few dumpsters along the street. It was a drastic change from seeing a public trash can on every street corner in the U.S.

It was also strange to find the modern mixed in with the sacred. By law, all of the buildings in Jerusalem are required to have a façade made of Jerusalem stone, which is sand-colored and ancient-looking. Walking a few minutes from King David’s Tower put us in a small mall where the stores were new but their outsides looked like the rest of ancient Jerusalem.

The sacred sites within the Old City were mixed in with everyday places as well. One afternoon, I went to the Western Wall. Many people believe that this is the Western wall of the ancient Jewish Temple. We searched for the entrance and almost thought that we were lost among the shops. We walked to the end of the street and, all of a sudden, the entrance was right there in front of us. It was about ten feet from a shop selling candy. This site, the holiest for Jews, was camouflaged. The entrance could have been easily missed had we not been looking for it. The Western wall was just another part of the city.

Our group also went through Hezekiah’s tunnel, a passageway carved out by a natural spring in the city. The path let out next to a giant mikvah, or ritual bathing pool, that was used in the time of Jesus. There were tour groups walking all around and over it, thinking that it was just a set of steps. It was the site where Jesus traditionally healed the blind man, and they were not aware of where they were standing. So many sites have been researched by academics, such as this one, but there are too many would-be sacred sites in the city for them all to be labeled. They become almost commonplace. The ones that are noticed by everyone are the larger sites and monuments, such as the Western Wall.

As we spent time at the Wall, it was impossible not to notice the Israeli Defense Forces stationed there. In fact, they were all throughout the city. Eighteen-year-olds in groups of three walked around with automatic weapons, joking and laughing. Every Israeli teen, with a few exceptions, is required to serve in the military after they have barely reached adulthood. It appeared to me that many of the kids in Jerusalem had to grow up fast.

We went shopping, and there were 12-year-olds helping run their parents’ market, if they weren’t operating it themselves. Shopping there entailed bartering, and the shopkeepers and their children were definitely good at their life’s trade. They worked flattery into their bargaining as they said, “You are so beautiful! I’ll give you fifty percent off!” Of course, I could never really know if I was getting a good deal or not. And haggling required almost as much energy as digging did every morning.

As we were out and about, I saw Muslim girls in sparkling and bright hijabs. They usually even had shoes to match their head-scarves. There were people in the shops that were in traditional dress with just their hair covered or even their entire body except for their eyes among tourists with matching hats and numbered stickers. Coming home from the dig required us to push through the throngs of people as many sauntered along with a laid-back demeanor.

The people of Jerusalem have a casual manner, exuding that they have all of the time in the world. It helped me calm down from the hustle and bustle of cities back in the States. Unfortunately, when my two weeks were up, I had to leave that relaxed atmosphere. Mornings spent hauling dirt and afternoons spent exploring the city were over, and so was my first experience abroad. Charlotte’s muggy weather welcomed me home but even as I stepped off the plane, I began to long for the dry heat of Jerusalem. Hopefully I won’t have to miss it for too long.

Jamie Smith is a Levine Scholar as UNC Charlotte and is currently interning with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte.

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Charlotte: Gaining Entry to Global Markets (“Global Charlotte 2014″)

quote_globalization_kerryGlobalization is shrinking the world. The birth of the Internet, quicker travel, and high tech communication methods leave the global population experiencing a “wrinkle in time” scenario. Instant access to infinite amounts of information or a person thousands of miles away, at any moment in time is now possible. As the development of these technological advances progresses, businesses have the increasing ability to outsource abroad.

Over the past decade, the Queen City has managed to give itself a growing relevance in the world of international business. Charlotte is pushing past American borders by supplying, employing, and utilizing resources–and it’s paying off. The “Global Charlotte”

At the moment, Charlotteans want to know how their city is benefiting from its global relationships and what can we do to capitalize on those ties.

It is important to analyze the current state of the global and domestic economies in order to better understand Charlotte’s growing market in both trade and local investments. Jim Glassman, Managing Director and Senior Economist at Chase, explains that business owners must evaluate the state of the economy and its future similarly to the way one would determine patterns of the ocean’s tide. It is impossible to look at the current state of the economy and determine when it will rise and fall. This approach is as effective as looking at wave length to determine the future of the tide. Instead, one should look at the sun and the moon: the bigger picture and the most significant catalysts throughout the tide’s history. In the economies case, the past at significant times of growth and contraction should be key indicators in regards to the future.

What can local business do to help themselves become fierce competitors in the global market?

First, it is important to identify key points of foreign incentive in American investment. The desire to gain membership to the biggest thriving market in the world is dominant. Foreign companies also want infrastructure and employment supplied by American companies. Some of the most appealing incentives and detractors include the cost of business, the cost of living, and the quality of life in America itself.

Starting with an “easier” market, where international trade rules and regulations are already in place will be of great advantage to any business venturing abroad. This will avoid instability and uncertainty down the road. Adapting to a country’s changing laws or even regimes should not be a continuous concern. Corruption and inflation also tend to be unnecessary complications in states where international trade precedents have not yet been set.

The future looks promising as Charlotte continues to evolve into a global force. The hope is that our city will thrive as a global hub of commerce. To achieve our goal, the city must develop and implement an intentional plan which should include highlighting the city’s entrepreneurial and creative spirit. Next, we must move things. In other words, renovate our airport and our logistics infrastructure. The effectiveness of an international terminal could be conducive to productive business. We need more infrastructure to cater to our growing international reputation. Consulates, or even an inland port authority could be of benefit the city of Charlotte.

Charlotte has a vision, but it is up to us as citizens to allow our city to reach it’s full potential as a force on an international platform.

Global Charlotte 2014 was hosted by the Charlotte Business Journal. Details regarding the event were highlighted in the following online article.

Summary by Roxy Quinn, Northeastern University (WACC intern – summer 2014)

 

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Summary: Global Oil Prices Under Fire (Why Are Oil Prices Rising?)

The threat of rising oil prices accompanies the turmoil catalyzed by the advances of Sunni militants in northern Iraq. Responsible for occupying Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, earlier this week, and steadily advancing towards Baghdad, this Al-Qaeda splinter group also known as ISIS, poses a serious risk to Iraq’s southern oil fields–the heart of Iraqi oil production– as it gains momentum. After a 4% price hike in oil starting June 6th of this year, as well as insurgents restricting oil flow in early March, the rising price of oil appears unwavering, leaving traders uneasy. Oil experts anxiously await the looming prospects of Iraq’s primary oil source being compromised, just as the global demand peaks.

In a statement made by Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, this peak in global demand is seasonal and rapidly approaching. With the Western vacationers using their gas-guzzlers to flee the responsibilities of the work week throughout the summer, and as refineries ramp up heating oil output before winter, a crucial pivot point in oil production and exporting is drawing near.

But it is not just the annual increase in demand and havoc wreaked by ISIS that threatens the global oil market. The year 2014 is presumed to be a threat in itself as the international market’s thirst for oil is expected to remain unquenched. “Expect global demand in the second half of 2014 to average 2 million barrels per day more than in the first half. Demand would peak at about 94 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter.” (CNN money)

Apart from seasonal demand increase and the unsettling forecast for 2014, oil analysts are concerned with the historical correlation between a nation’s political instability and  forthcoming effects on its domestic oil industry. “Libyan supplies have collapsed to about 100,000 barrels per day, from 1.4 million a year ago, as rebels occupied oil fields and major export terminals.” (CNN money)

As political strife and the approaching peak in global demand seemingly bludgeons any prospects of lower oil prices, a swell in oil production by non-OPEC nations–including the US–as well as the increasing output by Saudi Arabia, is acting as a safety net. Protecting global consumers from the deficiencies of Libya and Northern Iraq, is a priority of traders and international policy makers alike. The rising demand requires it. However, in a prediction made by the International Energy Agency, dependence on OPEC members, like Iraq, will be restored later this year.

Summary:

“Why Are Oil Prices Rising?” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 13 June 2014. Web. 17 June 2014 – http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/13/investing/oil-iraq-supply/index.html?iid=EL

Prepared by Roxanne Quinn (WACC Intern – Summer 2014)

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The Last POW and the Power of International Precedent

The release of the last American POW reaffirms Obama’s promise that the war in Afghanistan will come to a close this year. However, the negotiation between the Taliban and the US, resulting in the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, 28, has been subject to harsh debate and criticism.

Due to the nature of the negotiation involving the exchange of  five detainees from Guantanamo for Bergdahl, many remain wondering if “the deal to free him was a dangerous concession to terrorists, or a necessary move that will aid the violence-wracked country’s long-term stability.” (Bloomberg)

The trade of one American POW, suffering the brutalities of war and capture for 5 years, in exchange for five senior Taliban operatives, will result in differing opinions from the American public on the precedents set by this negotiation–feared by some and disregarded by others.

Precedent 1: Are Americans in danger in the Middle East? If yes, will the government of Qatar support U.S. efforts to secure the safety of its (American) citizens? 

Those released from Guantanamo include Afghanistan’s deputy defense minister at a time of Taliban rule and other key players in the regime that helped shield the conspirators involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Qatari diplomats took custody of the five detainees. This arrangement raised eyebrows, calling into question the possibility of an increase in American kidnappings abroad. In response, Obama stated last night that the Qatari government has given assurances that it will take the appropriate measures to protect the national security of the United States in this time of vulnerability.

Regardless of the measures taken on behalf of the Qatari government, Republican lawmakers adamantly view the swap as a negotiation with terrorists, resulting in the release of five senior Taliban leaders who are responsible for the death of many Americans. The Obama administration denies any negotiation with the Taliban due to the role of Qatar in brokering the deal

Precedent 2: What are our values as Americans? Is the freedom of the individual more important than the well-being of the masses?

One of the detainees released from Guantanamo, Fazl Mohammed, the deputy defense minister for the Taliban, was assessed as “likely to rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with anti-Coalition militias participating in hostilities against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan” and was rated as “high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies.” Regardless of this assessment, most Americans would infer that consequences would result as an effect of this prisoner swap. Where Americans differ is determining if the cost is worth the result.

To what extent is Fazl’s return an increased risk to the Western World? Does this matter if the US has the opportunity to bring the last POW home? It all comes down to the side of the aisle you fall on. Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon of California said in a joint statement yesterday, that the prisoner swap “may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.” The public cannot consider a prophecy such as this as totally valid until after it has already occurred.

Is it un-American to let a soldier abroad suffer while US policy makers are analyzing risk and consequence? Obama and his supporters would argue that it is.

Precedent 3: Standard Practice – Exchange of Prisoners and Negotiated Release

Throughout history, the exchange of prisoner’s has been a norm. In WWII, the US exchanged captured soldiers with Nazi Germany, and later with Communist North Korea, so one could argue that no precedent is actually being set here, it is just a continuation of what has always been done.

However, has the US now legitimized the Taliban (by negotiating with them) and raised it to the level of a sovereign nation? Again, is this significant in the matter of returning the last captured soldier?

The handover of Bergdahl along the Afghan-Pakistani border was particularly peaceful and quick. However from an American perspective, US policy may change from within as Obama chose to forgo the US law that requires 30 days notice must be provided to Congress for the release of prisoners from Guantanamo. The Obama administration states that this was in the interest of Bergdahls safety and swift return.

Summary by Roxanne Quinn (Summer 2014 intern – World Affairs Council of Charlotte)

Link to Original Article: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-31/bowe-bergdahl-last-u-s-prisoner-of-afghanistan-war-released.html

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Foreign Policy in India Under Narendra Modi

India began its period of political transition when Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister on May 25, 2014. With him at the helm and his political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, now in power, they have created the first non-coalition government in India’s history. They have also replaced a government that has been leading India since 1977.Tanvi Madan, fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings Institution, and director of the new India Project  discusses Prime Minister Modi’s possible developments in India’s future diplomatic engagements.

As Modi’s track record is focused on economic progress, people expect that India’s foreign relationships will take on more economic significance in the future. Though he has been forward with these intended economic and trade reforms, Modi has not discussed how these changes will affect diplomatic ties. Madan presents China, the United States, and Pakistan as countries to watch regarding their relationships with India.

China will definitely be a key player in foreign policy with India. Optimism is flowing about business prospects, and investment opportunities there may be crucial to India’s relationship with them. Though China has seemed open to Modi as Prime Minister, India’s relations with Southeast Asian countries and Indian nationalism might prove more difficult for China to reconcile with. In addition, Modi may have to balance the desire for business trade with a firm stance on territorial disputes with them.

The author discusses two possibilities of Modi’s engagement with the United States. The lack of legitimate meetings between the US and the Indian government in recent years may encourage Modi to create distance between the two countries. On the other hand, lasting economic ties between them may perpetuate their relationship as it is.

Another country to watch is India’s neighbor, Pakistan. The author describes their relationship as a “wild card.” Prime Minister Modi may have talks with the Pakistani government to discuss economic interactions, but this is unlikely if Pakistan fails to curb terrorist attacks on India’s soil. If there are attacks soon after Modi’s election, it could lead to a lack of cooperation between the two countries altogether.

Throughout his promises to improve India’s economic state and to crack down on corruption, Modi has created an image of a brighter future for India. This new outlook affects India’s position in foreign policy and extends to its business relations overseas.

Article Summarized by Jamie Smith, UNC Charlotte (Levine Scholar)

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International Career Panel: How to be Globally Competitive in the Job Market

 International Career Panel

On April 2, 2014,The Magellan Society hosted an international career panel and networking event at UNC Charlotte’s Center City Campus. The panel consisted of four young professionals employed in international fields. Angie Wright, Lead Advisor with the Office of Education Abroad at UNC Charlotte, moderated the discussion and panel. The four panelists were Cheli Bleda, Arthur Freudiger, Alexis Gordon and David Lynn.

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Pictured from left: David Lynn, Alexis Gordon, Arthur Freudiger and Cheli Bleda

 Cheli Bleda

Cheli Bleda is a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law. She practices Corporate Finance law and Mergers and Acquisitions at K&L Gates’ Charlotte office. K&L Gates has more than 48 offices around the world. This enables Bleda to use her fluency in Mandarin. Proficiency in another language is a sought after skill. Employers find it to be a valuable resource when doing business overseas.

Bleda was an asset to K&L Gates early on due to her ability to communicate across cultures. Her proficiency in Mandarin contributes to the international success of her firm. Foreign language enables her to make primary connections with Chinese clients of K&L Gates. The use of a customer’s language conveys respect of their culture. Even learning basic words and phrases will impress foreign business representatives.

Arthur Freudiger

Arthur Freudiger is a Category Manager at Procure4 in Charlotte. Procure4 is an international team of procurement, sourcing and supply chain management specialists. He is a French native with international work experience ranging from the UK to the US. He will be travelling to Brisbane, Australia in the summer for a new job.

Many undergraduate students weigh the advantages and disadvantages of attaining their master’s degrees immediately following graduation. Freudiger spoke to the value of gaining practical experience before attending graduate school.

In frequently changing markets, employers look for candidates who are able to bring immediate solutions through up-to-date knowledge and experience. Holding off on graduate school can provide different opportunities or open new doors for young professionals. Field experience will also aid in the reassessment of career goals.

 Alexis Gordon

Alexis Gordon is the International Relations Manager for the City of Charlotte. She advises the city’s elected officials on culturally sensitive issues in the community.

Networking is one the most effective ways of connecting with career professionals to explore new opportunities. Gordon believes networking extends beyond collecting cards or setting up a Linkedin account. Effective networking is actively meeting people to build upon the connections she makes. She uses those connections to grow her own network by connecting others to those they may be useful to. Employers look for employees who possess effective networking skills to contribute to the expansion of a company.

 David Lynn

David Lynn is the Director of International Studies at Charlotte Country Day School. He has orchestrated study abroad experiences for students to more than 20 countries. Lynn holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Young professionals and college graduates are faced with a competitive job market. There are many skills, qualities and experiences that will set a candidate apart. Lynn believes international travel experiences are among those.

Global experiences provide someone with a fresh global perspective. They are more likely to be more accepting of different viewpoints. A strong candidate is someone who can use their travel experience to assist a company reach international goals. It also demonstrates a candidate’s openness to new experiences and opportunities for professional and personal growth.

International Career Panel Summarized by: LauraLane Osborne, UNC Charlotte, WACC Intern, Spring 2014

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