Our second Group Reflection session was held on 28th October and was delivered by Charlotte (UK Volunteer) and Leontine (Rwandan Volunteer), their topic of choice was Globalisation. As a team, the pair worked great and the amount of research put into creating an interesting presentation for the team to observe really did show; there was the perfect mix of fact, case study and difference of opinion from a cultural background.
The girls began the session by interacting with all team mates to gain an understanding of the word “Globalisation.” They chose to brainstorm words as a team we came up with phrases such as – “International business”, “technology”, “worldwide consumerism”, “McDonalds”, “good” and “bad”; it was interesting to spectate the difference in opinion from both Rwandan and UK Volunteers. Of course the two different cultures have grown up in completely different Worlds and have different experiences in witnessing Globalisation.
With our minds broadened by the group interaction, the girls went on to educate us on the actual definition of the word and the worldwide effects; it’s the process that the World is becoming increasingly interconnected, this is a result of the massively increased trade and cultural exchange. This happens when businesses of other organisations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale. Globalisation is a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies and governments of different nations, it is driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology.
Charlotte and Leontine then went on to advise the group that the process has effects on the environment, on culture and also on political systems. We learned from the girls that Globalisation is not new, for thousands of years people and their later corporations have been buying from and selling to each other in lands of great distance – such as through the Silk Road: an ancient network of trade routes that for centuries were central to cultural interaction, connecting the East and the West – from Asia to Europe.
With the knowledge that this process has been around for centuries, the girls gave some interesting facts and statistics on how Globalisation has grown over the last few years:
- Since 1950 the volume of World trade has increased by 20 times, from just 1997 to 1999 flows of foreign investment nearly doubled from $468 billion to $827 billion.
- Since WWII and especially in the last 2 decades, many governments have adopted free market economic systems, vastly increasing their own productive potential and creating a myriad of new opportunities for international trade and investment.
- Taking advantage of new opportunities in foreign markets, corporations have built foreign factories and established production and marketing arrangements with foreign partners.
With these facts behind us, the group really had a split opinion of Globalisation – it appeared that the Rwandan side were still very for it and the side of the UK wary because of the negative effects they had seen and heard of through the Media around the World. From this split opinion across the office, presenters Charlotte and Leontine shed some light on the researched pro’s and con’s of Globalisation on the World. Some examples of these were:
- It creates greater opportunities for firms in less industrialised countries to tap into more and larger markets around the World.
- This can lead to more access to capital flows, technology, human capital, cheaper imports and larger export markets.
- It allows businesses in less industrialised countries to become part of international production networks and supply chains.
- The growth of international trade is exuberating income inequalities, both between and within industrialised and less so nations.
- Global commerce is increasingly dominated by transnational corporations which seek to maximise profits without regard for the development needs of individual countries.
- Competition among developing countries to attract foreign investment leads to a race to the bottom in which countries dangerously lower environmental standards.
With the facts laid out for the group to see, we all felt somewhat moved and a little helpless with the craze of Globalisation sweeping the World more so than it ever has before.
To conclude, the girls went into some negative case studies involving the likes of Nike and Shell; bringing the group together in similar opinion. that greed and over-consumption of unnecessary goods have a detrimental effect on the Natural World, but sadly the human race appear somewhat driven by these things to a certain degree; with exceptions now rising and speaking up in cases such as “fairtrade” being enforced, it’s just a shame not all corporations follow standards such as these.
The next group reflection will be taken by Sarah (UK Volunteer,) Arron (UK Volunteer) and Alice (Rwandan Volunteer) – they will interestingly cover the topic of “Positive impact of a post conflict society: A case study of Rwanda” – a topic close to the heart of all Rwandan Volunteers on our placement.