ESCANABA, Mich.-More than ever, the world is becoming a big global market. Ray Livingston is proof of that.
The Escanaba man spends most of his time as an instructor at the General Motors Corp.-authorized training facility at Bay de Noc Community College in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The rest of his work schedule may mean training trips to Singapore. Or Cairo. Or Frankfurt. Or Lagos, Nigeria.
He's part of a pool of GM instructors who travel to GM facilities worldwide to share with dealers and manufacturers the latest in automotive technology.
In turn, Mr. Livingston brings back to Bay College a wealth of knowledge from his trips abroad.
Keeping up-to-date is an absolute necessity in the car business, he explained. ``Right now, we're teaching the `97-98 model year.''
In the fall of '87, the onetime mechanic was hired to teach at Bay, which houses one of Michigan's nine factory-authorized GM training sites. He began training staff from area service shops but soon took on more work when Bay linked up with GM's downstate network.
Mr. Livingston took his first international training trip in February 1992, but has also trained throughout the U.S. GM offers three types of training: dealer, assembly plant and aftermarket.
Besides the obvious language and climate differences inherent in international training, there are worries like malaria, lost luggage, airport delays, passport paperwork and immunizations. But he said both students and hosts have treated him very well.
``I can say I have friends all over the world,'' he said. ``I enjoy working with everyone.''
Teaching, however, is ``10 times harder than it is here. You have a great feeling when it's done.''
In Nigeria, for example, Mr. Livingston lectures in English, while students translate among each other from English to their native languages.
Depending on the class, he spends anywhere from a few days to a week at a training site with a dawn-til-dusk class schedule that leaves little time for adventure.
``It's not a holiday-it's work,'' he noted.
Because he's not a tourist, and his hosts respect his role as an educator, Mr. Livingston hasn't worried unnecessarily about security. ``If there's any problems, GM won't let us go,'' he said.
His scariest travel experience, however, didn't even involve guns or an unstable political climate.
``I got to my training site, but $13,000 worth of equipment and books didn't come with me. I taught it all from scratch on the chalkboard,'' he said.
``You can't tell the class to come back another day. It's show time.''
His equipment eventually did arrive, he said. On his second to last day of training.