Global Soul Mates

Carol Martel and husband, Carlos

"Once you are exposed to another culture, it takes root in your soul," says Carol Martel. She and her husband, Carlos, live with their horses in north Georgia.

Couple identifies with students’ field experiences

By the time they graduated from high school, Carlos and Carol Martel knew that studying abroad could change lives.

Now the retired couple is extend­ing that opportunity to RSPH students with a bequest to support Global Field Experiences (GFEs).

This past summer, 80 students undertook GFEs to conduct research projects in 42 countries. Before they graduate, students complete a master's thesis or capstone project based on their data from the field.

Carlos Martel's first international experience was in the United States. In October 1960, he traveled from his native Havana on a student visa to stay with an uncle in Miami to escape the political uncertainty in Cuba. Carlos' parents eventually joined their son, and the family moved to West Point, Georgia, in January 1962.

On his first day at West Point High School, Carlos met Carol Muldoon, a West Point native whose own experiences as an exchange student would shape her life.

During her junior year in high school, Carol lived in Ludwigshafen, Germany, while her host family's son lived with her parents and attended West Point High.

Carol so loved the experience that she studied in Vienna, Austria, and Freiburg, Germany, during college at Mary Washington in Virginia. She went on to earn her master's degree in German at Ohio State before moving to Atlanta.

"Once you are exposed to another culture, it takes root in your soul," Carol says. "It is life changing. Living in another country gives you the ability to truly appreciate the perspectives of others."

Her husband Carlos studied mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. After graduating in 1968, he spent a summer working in Belgium as part of the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Practical Experience.

"I stayed with a family in a small community about an hour south of Brussels. I had a Eurail pass and put quite a few miles on it around the continent," he says. "The most important lesson I learned was a sense of how other people think and live. It is vital to understanding why they often act differently than you do and what you can learn from that instead of being afraid of it."

Carlos and Carol met again in Atlanta in early 1970. They married on October 18, 1975, 15 years to the day after Carlos emigrated from Cuba. Through their careers, they became part of Atlanta's growing international community.

Carol worked for the Atlanta office of the Institute of International Education. She later joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and became vice president for international affairs. After nearly 10 years with the chamber, Carol was recruited by The Coca-Cola Company. She retired in 2007 as director of stakeholder engagement in global labor relations and workplace accountability, with a focus on human and labor rights.

Early in his career, Carlos worked in international marketing, sales, and business development. In 1982, he co-founded The Multisource Group, an international consulting firm specializing in export marketing and foreign investment. He served as the company's president until 1992, when he became deputy commissioner for international trade at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. In 2005, he left the department to serve as a strategic adviser to international economic development organizations before retiring in 2007.

Through Carlos' service as a founding member of the RSPH Advisory Board and the Dean's Council, the Martels learned about public health issues and the critical role that public health practitioners play in the wellness and safety of the global population. They identified with the GFE program because of the opportunities it provides for students and the communities they serve.

"This type of experience is invaluable for students," says Carlos. "As they work with people around the world who lack access to basic necessities, Rollins students use their knowledge to solve those problems but also gain insights that help define their own lives and careers."

Through the GFE program, the Martels are helping influence others' lives in a way that fits their ideals.

"We treasure the international experiences we had as students and in our careers," says Carlos. "We want to provide opportunities for young people with comparable aspirations to benefit from experiences similar to those we were fortunate to have."—Maria Lameiras

Maria Lameiras is an editor with Emory’s Office of Development Communications.

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