The World Affairs Council of Charlotte hosted the South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool on May 30 as part the Council’s Ambassadors Circle Series. Rasool spoke on South Africa as a gateway for trade and investment to the African continent. He also encouraged North Carolina businesses to consider investing in South Africa as there’s tremendous potential for growth in the country.
Program Summary: Portuguese Perspectives on Europe and the World by Ambassador Nuno Brito (May 24th)
The World Affairs Council of Charlotte had the honor of hosting H.E. Nuno Brito, Ambassador of Portugal to the United States on May 24th as part of the Council’s Ambassadors Circle Series lunch program.
Since the economic crisis, Portugal’s presence in the news has remained focused on bailouts, debts and austerity measures. Ambassador Brito gave a more reassuring account, adding insight and hope into the process of getting Portugal back on track.
Ambassador Brito presented Portugal as a proud and fully integrated member of the European Union and member of the Eurozone. He gave a reassuring outlook for the future of the Eurozone while acknowledging the existence of kinks and imbalances in the system that Eurozone members are in the process of ironing out. The Ambassador expressed that the Euro is not at stake but that the Eurozone and Portugal are in the process of figuring out a balance.
Portugal is presently undertaking structural reform initiatives to address their current economic challenges. The country is in the process of reforming their labor laws, updating their judicial system to be more business friendly, installing a more comprehensive regulatory framework for companies to level the playing field, privatizing industries and providing tax incentives to stimulate growth and provide sustainable change to their financial system. Despite Portugal’s current economic hardships, Ambassador Brito expressed confidence in the Euro, his nation’s ability to bring down their budget deficit and their path to economic recovery through sustainable solutions. Portugal’s Minister of Economy and Employment reiterated this sentiment today in a statement saying, “We are suffering but we will persevere and succeed.”
Portugal has a connection to the Americas dating back to the early 1800s when the capital of the country was moved to Brazil. For thirteen years, Rio de Janeiro served as the seat of the realm during the time of Napoleon’s invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal was the second country to recognize the United States’ independence and since then, both nations have maintained a warm diplomatic and cooperative relationship. As founding members of NATO, Portugal and the United States maintain an excellent defense relationship with soldiers having served together in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Portuguese Republic has established STEM focused partnerships with several U.S. higher education institutes such as MIT and Harvard Medical School. In addition to their defense, education and growing trade connections, Portugal and the United States are steadfast allies with a relationship cemented by shared values and principles.
Although the United States and Portugal already have existing trade relations, Ambassador Brito communicated a desire to see the two nations do much more in the way of developing this relationship and set the standard for world trade. Asia may be a region of increasing commercial significance, but the Ambassador noted that 45 out of 50 states have stronger commercial connection to Europe than to Asia. Portugal has 2,148 companies that export to the United States. North Carolina and its potential for Portuguese trade and development caught the Ambassador’s eye in his first visit to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention last fall. Two Portuguese companies now operate in the state of North Carolina. The Ambassador voiced his hopefulness for an increase in bilateral commercial cooperation with North Carolina especially in areas of health and energy.
Ambassador Brito offered additional perspective into the present relationship between Portugal and the United States and his insight into how the two nations might further their relationship through education and trade initiatives. Portugal has made learning English a mandatory educational requirement at the first grade level, preparing their youth for a globalized workforce. The Ambassador made mention that there are eight Portuguese-speaking countries in the world, including Brazil, the up-and-coming player in the world economy. In this globalized world, the Ambassador noted, “There are not small and big countries, only small and big ambitions.”
Summary by Stephanie Phipps (for the World Affair Council of Charlotte)
Throughout their lives and careers, Margaret and Smoky have been visionaries in positioning our region for its significant and growing role in the international community. Whether by building world-class structures of international note or by instilling global perspectives in young minds, the Bissells have accomplished great things for our community and done so in an unassuming and collaborative manner.
Margaret is a legend in educational circles, and in particular the international sector. As Head of School at Charlotte Country Day, Margaret recognized the importance of exposing students to global education. She created exemplary programs for international awareness and study, which have received widespread accolades and continue to set the standard for effectiveness and innovation. During her 40 years of teaching and administration, Margaret has positively impacted and shaped the future of many generations of scholars and prepared them to compete in, enjoy and appreciate what is becoming a very small world.
Charlotte is now a global gateway for international business and economic development as a result of Smoky’s decades-long dedication to forging ahead as a region, despite tough economic times, keeping us globally competitive. His landmark real estate projects, in SouthPark, Ballantyne and other places in the Charlotte area, have drawn the notice of national and international companies. They see, in Smoky’s enthusiasm and optimism about our region, a compelling reason to join us and to become part of something special here.
Without Margaret’s and Smoky’s philanthropic involvement and global awareness, our community would be a much less interesting and prosperous place.
VIDEO – WACC Ambassadors Circle Series: H.E. Gary Doer, Ambassador of Canada to the United States (April 4th)
I am Ambrosia Wilson, Middle School Spanish teacher at the Military & Global Leadership Academy @ Marie G. Davis. As a former Council Scholar last year, I was asked to share how the support of this program has affected me as a result.
To begin, allow me to explain why I applied in the first place. Teachers have a demanding job and finding inspiration through tribulation can be a challenge. So I did come to a crossroads where I felt genuinely “worn out” and needed something fresh to keep me going. I found out through networking about a foreign language teaching method calling “Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling.” This method is valuable as students develop fluency faster and actually acquire the language versus memorizing in a rote fashion. Last summer’s conference was to take place in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which excited me as a Spanish teacher because I knew I would benefit not only from instruction inside my workshops but could also carry back so much culture from outside class as well. I applied and was amazed at the experience.
So that I could truly experience what it is like for my students to learn a new language, I was a student of Russian. Starting with simple vocabulary, we quickly were telling actual stories in Russian and even reading in Russian! I was astounded at how quickly I was able to understand high frequency words phrases like “eta musheena” (this girl) or “idiot” (goes) which made me quite “rahd” or “happy.” Experiencing the method was so interesting that I even forgot I was learning! After Russian lessons, the second part of the seminar focused on practical steps at putting this method in action. Hands-on practice gave me the confidence necessary to start planning lessons for my classroom from that first day.
The highlight of my trip was a tour to Higuey, the capital of the province where we were. I really felt like a Dominican when we visited a grungy open air market and a bag of raw pigs’ feet was dropped on my legs: I loved it! Interviewing middle-school age camp baseball players was a treat because their enthusiasm for all things “Sammy Sosa” and “Manny Ramirez” reminded me that no matter where we go, kids are the same and want to be like the giants of their world. And I was NOT to forget that they are the “BEST baseball players in the world and that “Bachata and Merengue started” there!
So I had a wonderful time. World Affairs Council of Charlotte has changed my life professionally. This entire school year my students and I have engaged in story-telling, reading, song and dance in Spanish and the level of engagement and enthusiasm of my students for foreign language has skyrocketed because the kids are simply having fun. Classroom disruptions are much less because they forget to get bored. Every day I am inspired to keep “changing it up” and personalizing what we do so that my kids have what they need for lifelong language study. Thanks to funding from World Affairs Council of Charlotte my eighth graders have read a coming-of-age novel all in Spanish that incorporates cultural yet age-appropriate elements in which the kids can “see themselves” in the story about the young protagonist. Parents are impressed to see how much language the kids have acquired in such little time and if it wasn’t for the graciousness of World Affairs Council of Charlotte of allowing me to travel, this would not have been. My goal of being inspired in the classroom has been met and I truly enjoy what I do with my kids daily.
We discuss frequently global issues including serious ones affecting young people. Thanks to contact with World Affairs Council of Charlotte, I was able to view a film at UNC Charlotte on the subject of Gendercide and use that in my lessons to make the kids aware of what is happening to young girls their age in some parts of the world. One of my students, Ashton Howard, even received “Honorable Mention” in the World Affairs Council of Charlotte’s sponsored CMS 2013 Young Explorers Global Essay Contest as a result of her taking a personal stand on this issue. In conclusion, World Affairs Council of Charlotte allows teachers like me to expand and broaden our craft with the goal of preparing our nation’s future leaders for the ever diverse world economy we live in. We are given the tools to lead by example and promote responsible citizenship in an increasingly global world.
Congratulations again to this year’s Scholars and may your trips this summer prove to be memorable and lasting experiences that will enrich who you are as an educator for the lasting advantage of the next generation. Thank you.
by Ambrosia Wilson, teacher at Military and Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis
With every action there is a reaction. Rising tensions between the Koreas have proven this to be true. The New York Times article, “Tensions with North Korea Unsettle South’s Economy” confirms a correlation between North Korea’s recent threats and South Korea’s economic stability.
Investors within financial markets are risk averse. North Korean’s initial threats to terminate a joint industrial complex in Kaesong, “the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation” and the denial of entry to South Korean workers across the border has caused disruptions for South Korea’s economy. Termination of the complex has bruised investors’ assurance. A member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, Tom Coyner says, “The North Koreans are now using the propaganda in an extreme form to try to damage foreign direct investments into South Korea. It’s a very interesting, sophisticated economic attack on South Korea.”
Heightened tensions between the Koreas have initiated concern for General Motors Co. (GM). GM has five plants in South Korea. In an interview on CNBC today Chief Executive officer of GM, Dan Akerson, affirms that if tensions continue to rise GM will be evoked to move production elsewhere. Akerson, “If there were something to happen in Korea, it’s going to affect our entire industry, not just General Motors.”
North Koreas intensifying threats have caused South Korea’s won to fall 0.7 percent against the U.S. dollar, currently 1,131.69 per dollar, an all time low in the past 7 months. As tensions escalate with North Koreas, KOSPI, a major stock market index for South Korea which tracks the performance of large companies based in South Korea has fallen 1.7 percent. With the expectation of the continuation of tensions to rise along with concerns of investors, the Bank of Korea aims to improve corporate investment and consumer spending by lowering interest rates.
North Korea does not have to launch a nuclear missile on South Korea to cause destruction for they have already declared a successful “economic warfare”.
Summary by Rebecca Mozafaripour, UNC Charlotte, International PR Major