Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Philosopher’s Approach to Globalism

Written by: Garrison Cox
Program Intern, World Affairs Council of Atlanta
Recent Graduate, Georgia State University
Published: 10/30/2018

The Philosopher’s Approach to Globalism

Today, the world thrives and prospers, and civilizations enjoy unprecedented peace and opportunities for success. Of course, the world is far from a utopia by any definition, but compared to the rest of humanities’ brief history our era of the 21st century is thought of as the culmination of all our efforts for the betterment and progression of our species. So, is the uninterrupted flow of time responsible for our progress? Are we naturally predisposed to will ourselves onward and upwards regardless of the major setbacks on our timeline? Perhaps.

Maybe time is rather the stage on which the forces of our universe act, and the laws of science that dictate the order and results of those forces interacting are the lines that they present for us, the observant audience. We would quickly notice that a character like Puck, the mischievous fairy from a Midsummer Night’s Dream, is performed by the meddlesome force of gravity. Just like Puck moves in a confusing manner to grab seemingly distant and detached characters and mix them all together, so too does gravity act on foreign peoples and eventually draw them close. In the 21st century there is immense gravity linked with the internet, and before the internet radio, and previously telegraphs, and continually international trade. Clearly, the world has historically become closer and increasingly connected due to the gravitational effects of our technology. Each advancement we call progress, and each major improvement, a technological wonder. So why do some people so vehemently oppose the connection and understanding between different peoples when those are the byproducts and results of our shared progress?

The devil is in the details, a phrase normally meant as a caution to avoid failure due to the specifics of a project, but what if the details are the devil. What if focusing on the minute differences are what keep us from seeing the bigger picture, and realizing that there’s not that much that separates us after all. Consider the children’s puzzles that ask you to spot the differences between two pictures, do you ever notice that the differences are always inconsequential, like the skin color of a person, the language they speak, or the invisible borders that separate them. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a puzzle if it asked to find the commonalities, but what would the world look like if we focused on our similarities instead of our differences?

 What if we thought about what unites us rather than what divides us? Maybe we would approach problems differently, and try to find solutions based on what we both would like as an alternative to pursuing whichever scenario makes the other person most upset. A world that brought empathy to the fore front of interactions and relationships with the people in our lives would be drastically different. In many ways, most likely for the best. If everyone considered other people’s perspectives as important as their own, then grace and understanding would be far more prevalent. We all enjoy forgiveness when we mess up, so surely a society which accepts failure with an optimistic mindset would advance at a dramatic pace. Without the pressure of failure being permanent people would be willing to work worry free, or without any pressure would there even be any meaningful work at all.

The universe has never been fair, and the world has never been a collection of fairly operated societies that wanted the best for each other as much as for themselves.  In this world, life repeats conflicts so that progress may be made through the work dedicated to solving those problems. A relationship with very little effort given from either or both sides will not be a strong relationship. Working to master a skill that took years to perfect, compared to something which is easily done, will provide varying levels of satisfaction for their completion. A cycle of conflict, resolution, and progression requires conflict, and based on the effort put into solving the conflict the greater the reward of alleviating the situation. Conflict is rewarding when we learn from it and it is essential for us to learn from our conflicts, otherwise we are only destined to repeat them.

To refrain from the vicious cycle of repeated conflicts between peoples it is important to learn from those conflicts by having a more open perspective about why other people believe what they believe. But without that conflict it is unlikely for people to properly learn about each other. Difference of opinion is not a bad thing, our varied perspectives are what make us so wonderful, but difference of respect for those who disagree with you will lead nowhere and without resolution there can be no learning from the conflict, only anger and repeated conflicts. Humans are attracted to each other by forces of social gravity, and there is no way to avoid the tension created from some of our social interactions. This is why it is so important to remember that at the end of the day the majority of all people have way more in common than the differences between themselves, and mutual respect about those differences is more likely to ensure resolution and progress through conflict than preconceived biases about our differences.

The More You Know

 Written by: Jazzmen Fobbs
Program Intern, World Affairs Council of Atlanta
Student, Georgia State University
Published: 10/30/2018

The More You Know

When I began taking classes at Georgia State University, meeting new people and getting involved in my chapter, I couldn’t help but feel like the odd one out. Nearly every person I met had at least one story to tell about a country or countries they’d traveled to; it was unbelievable. Everyone had so much experience, and it felt like there was so much that I didn’t know about the world. I grew up in one of the smallest towns in Southern Georgia, and no one casually left the country unless it were for military reasons. The diversity of the campus became one of my favorite things about GSU.
Towards the end of first semester, junior year, I moved in with my three roommates, one of whom I’ve grown extremely close to. She’s been to over 7 countries and visits Japan once a year. Fortunately, we share the same major and we’re always up talking about our future plans and the places we want to travel. She is the first person who pushed me to leave the US, and I am so grateful that she did. One day she came home with brochures from a class presentation, saying “let’s go to Argentina.” Although I was reluctant at first, she convinced me to apply regardless of my fear of the unknown. Everyone who’s traveled abroad always emphasizes the importance of going abroad before graduating college and how life changing these experiences can be. But although I began to entertain the idea of taking such a leap, I had no idea how I would possibly afford such a trip. Initially, I thought there was no way everything would fall into place. We wouldn’t get in the program on time, the flights would be too expensive or there’d only be room for one of us. All of these excuses to the reality that I was fearful of leaving my comfort zone. Luckily, we were both accepted and awarded scholarships to go towards the cost of the trip and stay. I worked endless hours to save up to pay any other expenses but never would I have ever imagined that all this work was going to pay off in the way it did.
After boarding in Atlanta we had a layover in Peru, took a boat to Uruguay, and finally arrived in Argentina. Everything was an entirely different experience. We hadn’t been in Córdoba for more than five days when our professor suggested that we join a march in the city during our free time. Stores and schools were closing early and everyone was meeting near Patio Olmos to begin protesting the 2 for 1 law. This ruling was being considered to reduce the sentences for those convicted of human rights violations that took place under the military dictatorship from 1976-1983. The turnout at the protest was incredible, it seemed as if most of the city was out marching with us. The most admirable thing about that night was that despite the size and relevance of the march, it was the most high-spirited protest I’d ever seen. I could easily compare it to something more upbeat like a parade, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. We even made the front page of their local newspaper.

Though the reason I was able to study abroad was to take a psychology course, this journey has an unexpected impact in my life and made me reevaluate my career path. Back in Georgia State, I had recently picked up Political Science as my second major, and I started to feel more intrigued by the field than I did by psychology. This curiosity was exalted by everything in Argentina but particularly the old detention centers such as “La Perla.” To hear the stories of the missing people and stand in the same place where they had once been was heartbreaking. Almost 30,000 people had disappeared or been killed and I learned way much more then I would have known if it weren’t for my time abroad. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know and tell others. I couldn’t believe that an entire genocide took place only 40 years ago and it wasn’t common knowledge to us in the United States.
Finally, this the trip culminated with the unforgettable experience of walking with the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. These mothers have been marching weekly for four decades. They have consistently been coming together with pictures of their missing loved ones protesting the government’s efforts to “forget” about the Dirty War and stop the trials of those convicted. Overall, it was such an eye opening experience to be around such amazing people who continue to fight endlessly for justice and to see pictures of everyone throughout the cities who would never be forgotten by their families. I have never seen such adamant people; the entire trip was inspiring.
“When people are determined they can overcome anything” –Nelson Mandela

Monday, June 11, 2018

Member Profile Beau Cummins: A Career of True Value

  Xan-Rhea Bilal
 Written by: Xan-Rhea Bilal
Program Intern, World Affairs Council of Atlanta
Student, Georgia State University
Published: 6/11/2018
 Beau Cummins is the co-chief operating officer of SunTrust Banks, Inc where he leads the Wholesale division and loves it. He has had an eventful career in banking and the past year and a half is no exception. In February 2017, he was named Wholesale division Executive, bringing to bear his years of experience as head of both SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and  head of Commercial & Business Banking also at SunTrust. When asked about his numerous positions at SunTrust and other financial institutions, he makes sure to always emphasize the importance of clients and, their relationship to the financial team. Understanding the needs of clients with business models of various sizes and pairing them with SunTrust team members best equipped to meet these needs, are how Mr. Cummins says Wholesale delivers on SunTrust’s purpose of “Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being”. 
When asked about how clients are looking to grow their businesses here in Atlanta, Mr. Cummins stressed the human aspect of company development, saying that the “ease of business is more than taxes or regulations – it’s can I hire or attract smart workers? Can I ship my goods easily? Can my workers and clients get to the office easily?" He went on to also mention the fact that Atlanta is indeed a pro-business, international city with a lot of opportunities and room for growth. This is thanks to our community leaders—lawmakers included-- that have incentivized companies from both the U.S. and abroad, to have their headquarters in Atlanta. There is still room for improvement however, Mr. Cummins points out that improving investment in education, transportation and, infrastructure is central to Atlanta’s growth and competitiveness. SunTrust has supported this through its involvement in the revitalization of the Westside and Ponce City Market.   

Given that global finance is so interconnected, Mr. Cummins strives to always be ahead of the curve in ensuring SunTrust clients have the tools to succeed in the global market. “I wake up every day making sure we have a competitive advantage”, he says. SunTrust does this by looking at innovations not only in the financial sector but, in all industries. One great way that Mr. Cummins has found to drive innovation is through dialogue; that is where the World Affairs Council comes in. Beau Cummins is a board member for the World Affairs Council he says because, the council challenges how many think about global issues along with driving professional development and enrichment. He personally enjoyed programing on the role central banks play in the integrated North American economy and, hearing from the Central Bank of Mexico about how they stimulated economic growth. The Council provides a rare environment for people from various industries and walks of life, from students to CEO’s, to converge in one place and share perspectives on current and relevant issues. He finds that this is a significant way to not only strengthen SunTrust's Wholesale division, but also to enhance the Atlanta community through positive and informative conversations. 
As one of these lucky students that get the opportunity to participate in the Council, I asked Mr. Cummins what advice he had found most meaningful when starting a career, the answer I received was simple but quite profound. “Whatever you’re doing you need to know why." This purpose, he says is “a key element of a successful career, finding something you are passionate about, which will allow you to be authentic." Mr. Cummins believes this is what SunTrust does by Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being; enabling people to find the true value of their endeavors, whether it is buying a house or getting a degree. It is apparent that Beau Cummins loves what he does, but when he is not working towards realizing the SunTrust purpose, he also enjoys nature and is an avid snowboarder.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Intern Interview featuring Michelle Nunn

Michelle Nunn Interview Article
Written by KaRa Lyn Thompson, Spring 2018 Program Intern
Pictures of women and children from around the world accompanied me as we waited for the interview. We saw a baby boy being pushed around and hugged by people in the office. The orange walls filled me with joy. It was a normal day at CARE USA.

Except it wasn’t a normal day for me. That Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to have an incredibly insightful conversation with CARE President and CEO, Michelle Nunn. Our conversation touched on her inspirations, CARE, change movements, and of course, Atlanta. She has spent over a decade being a leader in the nonprofit arena. Her impact on the world and the community have shown through her dedication to organizations with great purposes. I was curious about how she got to the seat in front of me.

“I had the opportunity to volunteer when I was in high school and found great meaning and purpose and excitement from that experience,” said Nunn. “I always thought I would do something public service-oriented.”

It didn’t hurt that she had parents with civic and political backgrounds. She felt that it was her natural path. At 23 years old, Nunn helped start Hands on Atlanta which focused on matching volunteers to community projects. From her position titled “Glorified Executive Director” to CEO of another nonprofit, Points of Light, she found herself loving leading organizations.

“I have just been really fortunate to be a part of organizations and what I think of as change movements that have been incredibly rewarding and gratifying and energizing,” Nunn reflected.

Change movements are happening all over the world and CARE is playing a crucial role in spreading the messages. For example, the #MeToo movement has reached the red carpets as celebrities stand in solidarity to fight against sexual harassment. As mentioned in her Time Magazine article, Nunn wants to help create a broader platform for those who may not have as loud of a voice.

“There are many places in the world that people still believe that it is okay to demand sex from people who work for them,” stated Nunn. “Many people still don’t necessarily understand the issue around gender-based violence in the workplace and full equality.”

To fight this inequality, CARE conducted a survey in eight different countries to gather information and opinions about sexual harassment at work. The majority of respondents said that they were hopeful that the #MeToo movement would actually change things. At the beginning of May, CARE began the #ThisIsNotWorking campaign to take the energy of the movement and create a lasting impact.

“Our job is to work in partnership with them so that they can lift up their voices,” said Nunn when asked about how CARE deals with the differing cultural norms that women face all over the world. “I think change is most powerful when it is coming within communities.”

The power of local communities in creating lasting change is imperative. CARE understands this dynamic and uses it to strengthen local communities in where it works. In 2017, CARE began an initiative called Scale X Design which supplies the resources and abilities to turn innovative ideas into reality. By inviting teams from all over the world to participate in the cohort, the idea must be able to help at least one million people. Nunn mentioned that although you can’t quantify everything, CARE uses intermediate benchmarks and standards to help move toward their goals.

While focusing on local change, I wondered how mutually beneficial the relationship was between CARE and Atlanta. After moving its headquarters from Manhattan to Atlanta in the 1990s, CARE has been around through years of changes in the community. However, being an Atlantan herself, Nunn felt there is a unique aspect that Atlanta has to offer.

“The vibrancy and dynamism of Atlanta’s civic leadership has been a really rich place for CARE to locate,” said Nunn.

This civic community paired with the boosts in economic opportunity help shape the future for Atlanta. CARE has recently received funding that will aid in the development of a Global Innovation Hub in which the organization will provide a space for social entrepreneurs to collocate. As CARE continues to be a leader worldwide, they also do their part in the local community.

Nunn recalls the uniqueness of Atlanta’s position as a leader in global public health and development and enjoys participating in the Council’s Annual Global Health Summit in which major players in the community get together to discuss the topic. CARE was represented in 2017 by Michelle Nunn.

“I think that we have underutilized that ecosystem and those set of assets as a city,” said Nunn. “I hope that we can increasingly find ways of challenging ourselves and our institutions to both recognize, build upon and extend our reputation as the Global Public Health capital of the world.”

The World Affairs Council of Atlanta will be hosting the 2018 Global Health Summit on September 17, 2018. We look forward to everyone joining in discussion of one of Atlanta’s many assets and continue to #MakeATLGlobal. We want to extend our gratitude for Michelle Nunn and CARE for this opportunity to interview her and hope to see you all at the Annual Summit.