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Reaching out to the world

Andrea Gerring - July 26th, 2007
My self-imposed job this summer is to garner enthusiasm within the community and student population for a class on The Art History of Non-Western Cultures being offered this fall at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey.
In preparing to teach this class, questions arose in my mind as to why this type of class and why now? It is very evident that our neighbors on this planet in Europe, the Middle East and Far East demand our attention on a daily basis.
Certainly, world events in these regions are the hot topic and of great importance to us and the next generation. If we are going to keep peace on this earth, survive and even excel, don’t we all need the knowledge and understanding that will give us the power to meet such challenges?
A very positive way to meet these challenges is to learn more about the citizens of the world. To find security and ease in working with other cultures, there must be mutual ground. I believe this comes with an understanding and respect for the beliefs and customs of our international neighbors.
Today’s generation of entrepreneurs is doing business in Russia, China, India and many other countries. As the world gets smaller, our children will have to be prepared to exist comfortably in this global community. We all encounter this community when trying to figure out our satellite television or some other high-tech gadget, and find ourselves speaking to someone over the phone in India for assistance.
We take the first steps in the right direction when we recognize that knowledge is power.
After doing some research, I realized that many people in our area want to widen their horizons. Many woud like to understand some of the current political situations in the world from a cultural point of view.
Our Northern Michigan community offers many sources of knowledge to tap into. One need only take a short drive to hear the World Youth Symphony Orchestra perform at Interlochen to appreciate the exchange among talented students from around the world.
The Traverse City Area Public Schools’ will offer early childhood Chinese/English immersion education beginning this fall.
World Culture and World Religion classes are taught at Northwestern Michigan College and North Central Michigan College.
The class I plan to teach in Petoskey, will endeavor to demystify the cultures of India, China, Japan and the Americas through the art they produced from pre-history to the modern day and show how these achievements have influenced our own artists. The history of art combines the study of geography, religion, and politics as seen through the eyes of its most talented people. It is an illustrated view of history.
If the world can be bettered by knowledge, we have the capacity to begin right here at home in a positive, pro-active way. There are educators in our community with knowledge to share, who wish to educate, not proselytize. Join in a celebration of cultural diversity, not a fear of it.

Andrea Gerring is an adjunct professor in the Art/Art History department at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey. Her degrees are in Asian Art History and German language and literature from Wayne State University and the University of Munich.
 
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