Feb 03 2005

Globalization Should Be a Two-Way Street

Published by at February 3, 2005 6:25 am under Global Culture,Globalization

This past weekend’s Iraqi election — held in Nashville as well as Baghdad — was an inspirational reminder of our city’s growing diversity and role in the wider world. Nashville was one of only five U.S. cities hosting the overseas voting for Iraq’s first free election in 50 years, chosen due to its Kurdish population — which at an estimated 8,000 is the largest in the country.

The Athens of the South is also home to large groups of Mexicans, Vietnamese and Somalis, among others. In fact, from 1990 to 2000, Nashville’s foreign-born population more than tripled from 12,662 to 39,596. In the five years since the last U.S. Census, it’s safe to say that it has continued to grow at a good clip — witness our ever-expanding dining choices on Nolensville Road.

About this time last year, Metro completed a yearlong study “looking at how immigrants are adjusting and contributing to life in Nashville and Davidson County,” and recommending ways to help them adapt to the local culture and economy.

It’s a commendable start, but only half of our responsibility. Globalization is a two-way street; as we welcome immigrants and their contributions to our city, we should also share our experience and expertise with the world.

Tennessee State University is one institution that’s made global exchange a priority by partnering over the past few years with universities in Malawi, Thailand, Ukraine, and now Tunisia. In September, the school’s Office of International Business Programs received a $194,000 grant from the State Department to share faculty, students and expertise with the University of Tunis el Manar — with the overarching goal of increasing U.S. understanding of Islamic societies.

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