We had the chance to visit a Gymnasium in Vacha, a small town on the former east/west border of Germany, where we had the great fortune of sharing our day with several teachers and five incredible students. Julian, our primary tour guide, speaks five languages, two of which he learned on his own, after school. He wants to be a journalist or a teacher, because he believes in the importance of sharing what you know with people. He wants to travel, and influence people along the way.
I asked Julian what he would want American students to know about Germany, as I explained that Americans students are often less internationally-inclined, and it would certainly be rare to find a high school junior who speaks two languages, let alone five. I wanted this seventeen year old to give me the silver bullet; how do I get my kids to think broadly and deeply? How do I engage them in the world around them? Most importantly, how do I get them on a plane, so they can figure all of this out themselves? Teach a man to fish and all that, you know…
I think he imagined what he said in response was common sense:
“We are one world; we shouldn’t be divided by boundaries. Only doing the same things every day is not experiencing life.”
It’s certainly not. What an important message from an incredible young man.