13 Jan

If it happened to Seabiscuit, it can surely happen to this blog.

Shutting down this old love in pursuit of some non-technological aspirations. Thanks for following.


The Untiring Nature of Human Giving

5 Jan

What is it a person tries to communicate from foreign spaces – I once sent a friend writing on the same problem the recommendation of Rilke’s voice, full of homelessness and spirit, and I have recently taken myself back to him, but I cannot take my mind further than his Spanish dancer or Eurydices – the woman’s dance like a burning match struck in the dark, and the wholeness of a woman who has seen her grave.

Am I so homeless?

I feel a restless wandering in me, but something so deeply rooted that I need to call it home. Do I act from this space? How can I truly bring about change?

I think of all the good people I know, making tangible change, and I recall a lesson – recalled in the brightness of day – that the only truly important task for man to undertake and ensure in tangible results is that he gives love, loves humanity, loves the human, every day. All else are just means to serving this goal.

Teaching. Purchasing food. Conversation. Discussion on tragedy. The only measure I can truly use against myself is how I expressed this singular, important love –

I recognize this to be a somewhat dangerous confession. Should I not be focused on tangible results, data, improving individual student progress – after all, I am their teacher, not their psychologist or mother.

And of course this is nonsense. I’m an excellent teacher, and getting better every day. The capability of human beings to bear many focuses at once, and to truly achieve these goals astounds me and I more fully realize each day.

Whether a student with 10% sight navigating and exceling in a business-school environment, a man actively and consciously fighting alcoholism, or a mother battling depression and working abroad – well. I can say the human being is a remarkable beast, entirely deserving of love.

And this is the goal. This is what we communicate, regardless of language, border, or culture. It does not tire.

Building Walls and Happy Meals: My Call for Growth of Cultural Exchange

24 Oct

“Besides being fluent in Dutch, Chinese, German, and English, I also have a sound knowledge of French…”.

This is an excerpt from an essay of one of my Austrian students. She’s brilliant.

While the majority of Austrian students are not fluent in four to five languages, I feel safe saying that 90% are fluent in two: English and German.

When I say fluent, I mean they can talk about the Euro crisis, JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and the US primaries . They can hypothesize, navigate abstract spaces,  draw new conclusions. It’s incredible and I’m utterly impressed.

This has naturally led me to the question: what is the value in learning a language? Where do I make my argument?

Being here has strengthened my argument tenfold. It’s becoming difficult to see how learning language is not important.

Yet language study is not required in schools, nor do I think it should be (I am anti more national government regulations).

Language study should, however, be offered in all schools, especially European langauges, and here’s why.

1. The United States has embassies in almost every country, and US foreign wars are a hot topic of conversation for the world.

We’re dawdling in a ton of foreign countries. In some, we’ve placed tanks and troops. We are entering cultures and situations that perhaps, the United States’ culture isn’t the most well-equipped to understand.

Kids in other countries are talking about our involvement, and are developing strong opinions. Perhaps we should have more US ambassadors with the same – strong, well-developed opinions: in a non-native tongue.

So. Where can the average man start, in a space (foreign affairs) where the United States has been for a hundred years?

We could, as a society, put a little more cultural emphasis on the importance of understanding and embracing foreign cultures, instead of proposing ways to keep them out.

“Build a goddamn wall!”

Kids need the opportunity to stretch their minds, and all the good teachers I know, parents included, are helping them do this. Certain societal norms and expectations, however, need more than just good teachers to facilitate change. We need to challenge our own expectations and understanding at an uncomfortable level.

Yes. We need to be uncomfortable.

Ask any 14 year old boy or girl, and if a voice wasn’t cracking or crying, they would tell you that change is painfully uncomfortable.

But as we all know well enough, the forthcoming growth is a beautiful thing. Stretch yourself!

2. The European Union isn’t such a stone’s throw from the United States of America. Nor the Republic of China.

Issues are global -the environment, the economy, the wars. Furthermore, of the world’s 100 largest economic entities, 44 are corporations. That means 44 companies have bigger fiscal sway than an entire country. McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of beef, pork, potatos, and apples in the world. More than a single country.

That’s one big ass happy meal.

This means that global borders are slowly eroding. Money is exchanging hands on big levels, and with it, cultural values. If our youth are inheirating these corporations and values, and we desire progressive change, we better damn well give them the skills to tackle this task. Germany is Europe’s stongest economic power, and Austria is somewhere close behind. If we want good people making changes at big levels, we need to teach them how to communicate. Internships with German companies are invaluable and Germany’s leading progressive environmental change – we want to give kids positive international influence they can bring back home? Teach them German.

I am ever skeptical of a person’s abilty to feel or affect national or international change, but I should simply be skeptical of always being skeptical. I already can feel my learning curve steepening, and my abilities as a teacher and seeker growing. International to national to local, baby.

Lesson #2: Chill out. It’s okay!

14 Oct

I think this may be an ever occurring lesson.

Thank god for good friends, good lessons (planning?) heh.

Writing Letters You Will Not Send

6 Oct

The problem in the life of the writer has long been that he reveals too much. What of the writer when he does not reveal, but rather, hides what perhaps ought to be revealed? I think the answer is something of a secret implosion which soon manifests on the outside.

This blog is supposed to be about education, and i suppose it is. But when you’re sitting on your bed, alone in a foreign country, writing letters to friends that you will not send, thinking on past mistakes, and contemplating on whether you can move forward to be a better person, well –

I suppose you write a somewhat personal message to the faceless internet world to lift some of that weight off your chest. And to express  a bit of the truth you had such a difficult time expressing prior –

Simply because you didn’t know how.

Education. Not just for politics.

Extra, Extra!

10 Sep

Close to 30,000 teachers striking in the Chicago Public Schools. Read all about it here:

More to come, including an opinion.

What we feel most has no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.

19 Jun

The title is a direct quote from Jack Gilbert’s poem, The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart


Studying the German language, it is difficult not to think of the meanings lost in translation.

I recently read the article about the boy who scammed first the German police, and then the world with his story about living in a forest for nine years. It was discovered that he was just an average teenage boy from the Netherlands, running away from a broken home and troubled life.

Just an average teenage boy with a broken life.

When I was seventeen, my cousin Brent, who was also seventeen, killed himself on the front porch of his home.

Just an average teenage boy with a broken life?

Lives of other people enter our minds through sensory organs; whether we read or hear or see, part of their experience suddenly becomes our experience. And what do we do with it? Do we read and hear and see for entertainment? Do the stories move further than the eyes and ears? Do they linger in the mind or settle in the heart?

This young man was running away. One choice of many to make.

The article reports his story through the voice of the young man’s friend.

“His bucket was way too full. He just wanted to have a new bucket.”

I understand meanings lost when German is translated to English; as I want the meaning between language to be true, I strive in writing to narrow the gap, bring the meanings closer to a similar understanding.

What does this say for meanings of the heart? What is lost in translation between the eyes and ears and heart when we read the story of a troubled teenage boy, a suicide, a grieving parent? What are we losing by not dwelling, by not striving to bring the languages closer together?

Rilke writes that lament is not enough and Jack Gilbert that the words get it wrong.

In striving to understand can we come closer to knowing what it is to be human, and to help those dearest, and ourselves.