The state’s International Education Advisory Council received the endorsements of the chief executive officers of Gold Kist Inc. and the YKK Corporation of America, two of Georgia’s leading global companies at its annual meeting May 23.

But a note of urgency in attaining the council’s objectives was also declared.  “We’re about 50 years behind,” exclaimed Gold Kist CEO Harold O. Chitwood concerning the programs that Georgia’s schools should be offering to prepare their graduates to compete in a global economy.

He added that 25% of Gold Kist’s employees speak native languages other  than English.  “It is the responsibility of our school systems, parents and our people generally to make sure they get the education that they will need,” he said.

Peter White, president of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for International Studies (SCIS), encouraged the committee members to focus on the innate pragmatism of Americans who ask questions such as ‘Global, how does it affect me?”  He then alluded to the changing demographics of the greater Atlanta metropolitan area and to the growing number of Hispanic and Asian residents.

The breakfast meeting was sponsored by YKK, which is the world’s largest extruder of aluminum building products, and manufactures and markets an extensive line of closures including zippers.  The company employs more than 2,300 people in the U.S., of whom more than 1,500 work in Georgia.

Noro (Nick) Tsubokawa, president and CEO of YKK America, briefly described the global operations of his company, saying that its employees spoke 28 different languages around the world.  “Now more than ever there is one marketplace,” he said, underlining the need for cooperation between different countries.  Citing a company tenet, he added, “We believe in a cycle of goodness; no one prospers unless he benefits others.”

 Mr. Tsubokawa first came to Atlanta in 1980 and has been active in the city’s business and civic community, having served as a longterm member of the executive committee of the Japan-America Society of Georgia, along with many other posts.

Mark Middleton, special assistant to Georgia School Superintendent Linda Schrenko,  pointed to the growing enrollment of students in foreign language courses. That number has climbed to 283,857 this year, he said.

For more information about the council, call Greg Duncan of the educational consulting firm, Interprep, at (404) 955-7460.