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Friday, July 27, 2012

A Different Perspective

I recently returned from a trip to Mongolia to visit my son. He works as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English to secondary level learners in a small village in rural Mongolia. The week I spent there with teachers and learners afforded me a new perspective on education. That vantage point, together with a notice I found circulating on the Internet, formed the basis for this Blog entry.

This message is from a principal in New Zealand who shared the wise words of a judge who regularly deals with young people...

We often hear the cry from teenagers, "What can we do? Where can we go?" My answer is - go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you've finished, read a book.
Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again. In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It's too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you! 

These words became more meaningful to me after visiting my son in Mongolia, where he works with the Peace Corps to teach English to secondary level students. As soon as I saw the poor school facilities and the lack of available supplies I was reminded of how easy it is for us to take our good fortune for granted. I was amazed at the proficiency levels of these students and their keen understanding of our country and our history. They are driven to reach success. Instead of spending time on video games, instant messaging people far away, listening to their i-pods, or hanging out at the mall, these students were reading, using their ingenuity and imagination, interacting with their neighbors and classmates, and making a commitment to expand their opportunities.

Our complacency and the feeling of entitlement that is reflected by too many young people undermine the value and potential of our country. How much longer can we expect our nation to remain an international force in commerce, finance, technology, medicine, engineering, science and politics if we continue to decline in our general level of commitment?

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