Last week was a bit busy, what with trips to the Emory Clinic and other details of life. That didn’t keep me from grabbing a quick spot of coffee with the WSA bunch, but it did preclude me from writing about the conversations.
Today I got to speak with two dads, both of whom have children older than my son. One father, whose child is in high school, shared his daughter’s inkling toward going to a university abroad. He thought it was great, but his wife didn’t. Another country was a little to far to stretch the heart-strings, he figured.
Our boy is only in the first grade, so some would say it’s too soon to think about that. But I’m not of that mind. I think it’d be great! His mom … well, we’ll see. The paternal consensus this morning was that studying abroad can bring a ton of good. Particularly for Americans, it’s easy to consider ourselves and stop there.
Being fortunate to have studied in Germany and Japan, I feel that those experiences still inform my outlook and actions. It’s been a while, but having been to those countries when I was younger, I was all the more impressionable then.
What if all high school students were required to take a semester abroad? How would that affect our youth? Our nation?
I for one — along with my fellow fathers — think it’d be expansive. Beyond the life experience and learning of another language and culture, our kids would benefit from a broader world view, fostering (hopefully) more respect and consideration for others. We could all use some more of that.
Funny thing is that one dad, who was born in Italy, said that they used to be required to serve a year in the military; if they were from the south, they’d get stationed in the north, and vice versa, so as to learn more about the country’s regions. He said that Italy was a disparate country; they were Italians “related by coincidence” more than a singular national identity. The other dad chimed in that where they used to live in Nashville, there were kids there that had no idea of what life was like in a major metropolitan city. I’ve often said that my home state of California was like two states — NorCal and SoCal — in one, the regions are so different. Maybe some temporary domestic relocation could do our youth some good, too.
I guess the lesson in all this is to broaden ourselves. When I stop to think about it, we are all related by the coincidence that we were born at the same time. Seems a shame not to make it a point to get to know a few peeps out there. After all, we’re all related, if for no other reason than cohabitating on this blue-green orb.