Global Gratitude, part II: back on solid ‘Merican ground.

So, this post rounds out Eurotrip 2016. I’m grateful for the chance to chronicle my experiences this way, and in a few years, when names and places are escaping me, I’m glad I’ll have this lengthy, delayed, though hopefully *mildly* thoughtful account of an incredible few weeks. I can’t quite thank the Goethe-Institute or the people at the Transatlantic Outreach Program, Deutsche Bank, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Siemens, and the German Foreign Office, enough for the opportunity not only for two weeks in Germany, but for enabling a continuation of my trip, allowing me to see two new cities, and return to one of my favorites. My kids and I will benefit from the experiences I gained in these short weeks for the rest of my teaching career, and certainly I will for the remainder of my days.

Of course, as I’m a millennial, after I got coffee, the next thing I did when I got back on US soil was update facebook. Don’t ask why. I can’t explain the human compulsion to chronicle life via social media, but I willingly participate. Here are my immediate thoughts upon landing in Detroit:

11 July, Detroit Airport

“Back on solid ‘Merican ground. Gratitude is oozing out of me as I reflect on the past four weeks, so why not start sharing it now? In no particular order, I am especially grateful for…
1. A funny, engaging German seat mate named Rudy who kept the wine and the conversation flowing
2. Live piano and a Caribou in the Detroit airport
3. Snarky, clever British flight attendants who DO NOT like being accused of sounding a little bit Irish, thankyouverymuch…
4. Seeing American men in baseball hats as soon as we got into the airport (superficial I know…so sue me!)
5. The incredible people I met and the incredible places I visited in just over three weeks in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria.

What a gift to love the place I’m coming home to just as much as the places I’ve been.”

I cannot overstate the importance of this particular trip in helping remind me why I do what I do, and am becoming who I am becoming. The two week immersive learning experience exceeded my expectations in ways I can’t describe, but the 11 days that followed were self-indulgent, freeing, enlightening, and reassuring. 

My first Christmas back home after my study abroad experience, my mom got me a gift that has remained incredibly profound in my daily life, though I don’t know that I’ve actually told her that. It was just a piece of card stock, about the size of a business card, with a quote that I didn’t fully understand the value of then.

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

How true it was then, and remains to be. London and central Italy await…and I can’t wait to head back to where it all started. Roma; non basta una vita.


MC Lean


“We are one world…”

Vacha 6/23

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.

Vacha 1
Julian (on the left, in the American flag shirt) tells us about the school

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.


MC Lean