Thursday, December 08, 2005

A New Blog at Salon

And I like it. All three of his posts yesterday were good, but this one helps to illustrate why I am irritated by having our ballots printed in 27 different languages for people who have supposedly become citizens of this country. Voluntarily becoming the citizen of a country you weren't born in is a big step. You go through a lot of work, time and trouble to prove that you love your new country but you don't feel it it is necessary to learn the language? What's up with that? Meanwhile in the rest of the world that exists outside of our little bubble: Technology | How the World Works: "My moment of enlightenment was the realization that while I was playing my small role in helping an entire nation leverage itself up the ladder of global commerce, I wasn't really doing much at all to improve my own prospects for thriving into the 21st century. (I was spending a lot more time teaching English than studying Chinese, for example.) Hell, if anything, I was helping to make the world a more competitive place for me, and for people like me. Like the Silicon Valley venture capitalists currently racing to China to fund start-ups that will one day wrestle for supremacy with the American companies that those same V.C.s funded a generation ago, I was seeding the future with my own nemesis.

What, I wondered, was my equivalent of learning English. How could I figure out my niche in the global economy? Teaching English to Taiwanese preschoolers suddenly didn't seem to be the best preparation for the future. Inspired by the example of the Taiwanese, who in every aspect of their lives seemed to be constantly striving to do better, I decided I needed to go back to school myself, and start studying how the world works a little harder.

Twenty years later, 'globalization' is a buzzword on everyone's lips, and the 'threat' of Chinese competition is front and center for parties as diverse as organized labor, the U.S. Congress, Silicon Valley and Hollywood. I keep waiting for that moment when I'm interviewing an engineer for a Taiwanese semiconductor company or a lawyer for a Chinese intellectual property firm and he or she turns out to have been one of my students two decades back. And every time I hear the statistic about how there are more people studying English in China than there are citizens of the United States, I feel a visceral sense of connection. I was part of that link between nations."
Hmm, more people studying English in China than there are citizens of the US. Interesting stat, frightening on several levels.

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