A quick thought on Caroline’s time in DC with St. Albans School of Public Service-
Caroline stopped by my classroom on Monday. Happy to be home but clearly wrapped up in memories, she shared one experience after another, each with the passion of someone who’s been to camp, desperately trying to relate a "you had to be there" experience. Among her 87 anecdotes, 2 related bits struck me.
First, she was overwhelmed by young people who wanted to talk about things that mattered. At meals. On buses. During free time. Before bed. Literally stumbling over her words, she relayed the excitement of being surrounded by kids who cut through the frivolity and dove into topics of consequence. Without disparaging her friends at home—many of whom are similarly disposed, she felt like the place and time were inspired, that she was surrounded by emerging leaders and world changers. And she felt right at home.
Second, she was not the only person who kept in her pocket a copy of our constitution. Think about it: a bunch of high school kids walking around with pocket-sized versions of our guiding principles. They might not do this at home, but it speaks to their values and the respect with which they approached their D.C. experience. The students aren’t monolithic. Of the 40+ kids, Caroline might have found 40 different interpretations of the document. But they acknowledge that, for all its ambiguity, it’s the starting point for any discussion of public policy, vision, and service.
In our time, we might find the path to cynicism is straight while the one to hope meandering. But once we find hope, it resounds in profoundly deeper ways. A bunch of kids talking about issues of consequence, who are deferential to time-tested wisdom, excites and inspires me. It gives me hope. This type of experience is one reason I teach. Their joyful noises drown out anger, fear, and frustration. It makes me think of principled young people doing great things around the world. They are beacons of enthusiastic, constructive civic interaction. One of my goals as a teacher is to cultivate that kind of environment and disposition in our school and students every day. I don’t want to deny them the joie de vivre of youth; but I want them to expect and embrace moments of consequence, to see them as a desirable, essential part of life. I want them to feel what Caroline felt.
This blog is the collective voice of every person involved in the Global Initiative. Just as the globe hosts billions of disparate voices, we hope this space will embody and embrace the same diversity.