Letters: Globally Competent Before Competence Was Cool

My wife and I are really enjoying your Summer 2009 issue of On Wisconsin, especially “Global Views” by Masarah Van Eyck. After growing up in Watertown and Tomah, respectively, then graduating from UW-Madison in 1964, my wife and I were attracted to Caterpillar Tractor Company, in Peoria, Illinois. Soon we were moving to Geneva, Switzerland; Salisbury, Rhodesia; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Paris, France. Our global competence developed from living and working in these great places for the next four years.

Reflecting on Masarah’s article, and our foreign experience in the 1960s, makes us keenly aware of how the UW prepared us for this journey. The interaction in Madison with students and faculty from all over the U.S. and the world caused us to crave a bigger world.

We fondly remember shopping in a boucherie in Geneva soon after we arrived, asking for a dozen chickens with our newly acquired French when we meant a dozen eggs. We entertained the entire village while the owner brought out a chicken in one hand, and an egg in the other, and showed us the difference! Vive la France!

We didn’t have much global competence in 1964, but we were not afraid to take a huge global step. Thanks to the University of Wisconsin for giving us the confidence!

Jan and Dan Frey ’64

Savannah, Georgia

Published in the Fall 2009 issue

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