Fall is a time for reflection as I gaze on the warm colors nature has provided me, the family and friends I have, and for the education I received.
There are no half measures when it comes to education. My parents provided us the opportunities, and for them and that I am grateful. Three years of study at the University in Heidelberg, Germany plus the two times I was a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Germany provided me the full benefits of learning about a foreign language and culture which forever changed my life. The ultimate gift of understanding another people and culture has provided me the tools to effect change and contribute to world peace. My belief in the Fulbright program is profound and continues to affect me, my family, friends and my students everywhere. Even when I am unaware of the benefits, I know they are there with me. When I first interviewed for the Fulbright Exchange program, I was told that it would forever change me. At the time, I did not fully fathom the ramifications of the statement and how it impacts all facets of my life. I formed friendships and found a second family in Germany with whom I remain in contact to this very day.
In the idea of the family of man, we are all interconnected and our lives intertwined. Learning about another country takes time which is a message I give my students: take a minimum of one year and immerse yourself in the language, culture, country and its people. I am grateful to them, my parents, that education was the most important part of my life growing up.
As I read with interest this morning about the Fulbright program not being a political football(see Tara Sonenshine’s article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tara-sonenshine/a-fulbright-is-not-a-poli_b_5890702.html?utm_hp_ref=tw), I have to add my two cents to say the Fulbright program is one of the most cost-effective methods to world peace by sharing great minds and public diplomacy. Having been in public education these past 48 years, I can attest to the need we have for those individuals who seize the opportunities in life and who are unafraid to think outside the box. Good language learners are risk takers unafraid of mistakes and learning from them.
I unequivocally believe that our world would be a better place if we all took the time to study a foreign language in depth, and lived in another country for a minimum of one year. We would all be more tolerant individuals capable of effecting world peace.
As I remember my parents this fall day, I say to them: thanks Mom and Dad. I am glad you valued education. The world is a better place because of you.