Thinking Globally

Panel, from left, Papp, Isakson, Hessler-Radelet and Carr

A requirement for today’s workforce KENNESAW, Ga. (March 23, 2016) — The key to…

Georgia (Mar 23, 2016)

A requirement for today’s workforce

KENNESAW, Ga. (March 23, 2016) The key to growth and opportunity in today’s globally competitive environment, and in the future, is the ability to navigate a culturally diverse world, panelists  representing  decades of experience in international affairs, business, foreign service and economic development told a capacity audience at Kennesaw State University’s Bailey Performance Center auditorium Tuesday.

 U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Carrie Hessler-Radelet, director of the U.S. Peace Corps and Christopher Carr, Georgia’s commissioner of economic development, were featured during a panel discussion of “The Impact of International Experience on Local Workforce Development.” Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp moderated the panel, which was organized by the University’s Division of Global Affairs.

“Our nation is competing with every other country in the world and our students are competing with every other student in the world for jobs and careers,” Papp said in opening the discussion. “It’s our job to help our students become globally capable citizens.”

Isakson,  who headed a real estate firm for 20 years and has served in the Georgia Legislature, three  terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and is now in a second term in the Senate, recalled his first experience with another culture in 1961 when he was  a  high school senior and  his family hosted a student from East Pakistan. 

 “I learned a lot about the Muslim faith and what it means to be a Muslim,” said Isaksaon, who serves on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.  “That has made a world of difference when I’m now making decisions about our nation’s interactions with Muslim nations. Being able to have experiences with other people and cultures of the world, experiences like those the Peace Corps provide, are so important because, as in my case, you never know where you might end up.”

As leader of an organization with nearly 7,000 volunteers in more 140 host countries, Hessler-Radelet reiterated the value of Peace Corps experience in equipping students with both critical skills like language acquisition and softer skills such as cultural understanding and sensitivity.

 “We operate in a multicultural world and we need to make sure we are cultivating a generation of young people prepared as global citizens of that world,” she said.  “Peace Corps volunteers have an immersive experience where they speak the same language, eat the same foods and work alongside of people in the countries, town and villages where they serve.”

Hessler-Radelet conveyed a conversation she had recently with the president of Guinea, who said when he was running for office, he visited more than 300 villages, many of them in remote,  civil war-torn  areas, many of which his own campaign staffers would not visit, but he found Peace Corps volunteers in some of those places and they were not afraid.  

“That’s the kind of service and dedication our volunteers have that makes them invaluable to any organization,” she said. “When you have ‘Peace Corps volunteer’ on your resume, it tells quite a story about who you are, what you know and what you are capable of.”

 The State of Georgia has a keen interest in students gaining international experience as well, Carr told the largely student audience. He noted that the state has more international representation than most states in the Southeast, with official representatives in 11 strategic markets around the world helping to grow jobs and investment in Georgia.

“The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s goal is to maintain the state’s status as a leader in the global marketplace, bringing jobs and investments opportunities here,” said Carr. “Our international footprint is vast. Knowledge of international business, international culture and protocol is the foundation of almost everything we do at the department.”

Carr buttressed his comments with a few statistics for students to consider about the state’s workforce needs: International companies accounted for 35 percent of the total investment and 27 percent of the new jobs in Georgia during FY 2015; roughly 14,000 Georgia companies are exporters; the state had a record-setting year for international trade in 2015 for the 6th consecutive year; and Georgia is ranked as the nation’s 11th-largest exporting state and 7th-largest importer.

“One of Georgia’s greatest economic development assets is our global accessibility,” he said. “If you’re planning to work in the state of Georgia, it would be smart to gain as much international experience as possible.”

A few practical suggestions for students surfaced during the event’s extended Q&A session. Hessler-Radelet urged students to learn one language well, rather than a little of many languages. She and Isakson both urged students to gain a good basis in math and science, skills that are critical to addressing many of the world’s pressing problems and workforce needs within the U.S.

Kennesaw State students can gain international experience in a number of ways, said Lance Askildson, vice provost and executive director of the Division of Global Affairs.  He encouraged students to take advantage of study and internship opportunities abroad. He also announced a new initiative to prepare undergraduate students for the Peace Corps.

Launched in fall 2015, the non-degree Peace Corps Prep Program, offered through the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, is open to students pursuing any major and builds on courses students are already taking.  More information is at:  

Since 2008, the University has also partnered with the Peace Corps to offer a graduate program for returning Peace Corps volunteers. The Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowsprogram allows students to enroll in a master's program in Business Administration, Conflict Management or International Policy Management.  Students receive a tuition waiver and stipend and work as graduate assistants for up to four academic semesters.  More information is at:

— Sabbaye McGriff

Photos by David Caselli



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit