Friday, July 20, 2017
If you are averse to grandparents talking of their grandchildren, skip this one, OK? I’m serious.
Yesterday I drove to Ohio to bring Sam to Indy. The trip home gave us an opportunity to talk before others of the family would want him to tell of his six weeks in China.
Rather early in our conversation in the car, I asked Sam a personal question: You’ve been abroad for a year in France, and for shorter visits to other European countries, Guatemala and Iceland. Now you have been in China. Tell me, what do you think is your greatest asset/trait/gift as a teenager intent on majoring in international relations?
There was no hesitation. “I like people and accept them. I like to encounter ideas. I enjoy new foods. It’s fun to solve travel puzzles.”
He then told me of some of his experiences, including a solitary two-week trip during which he hiked through forests, passed by small farm operations, even rented a motorcycle to traverse the countryside. He thought the food was great, everything he tasted. Nor did he mind that the Chinese do not ordinarily drink cold water, but rather hot, boiled water, often in tea.
Sam gave to his cousins coins from three places he visited.
Sam’s attitude took me back to Costa Rica where Joy and I directed Goshen College’s Study/Service program. During our tenures there, we hosted about 250 students. Could we foretell which would be the successful students? Grades, no. Gender, no. Major, no. Year in college, no, Church affiliation, no. We finally found a predictor.
On the very first morning when students arrived at our house after spending a night in small hostels, we served them breakfast, giving attention to typical Costa Rican foods such as papaya or mango. The student who turned up her nose, or gingerly touched a piece of papaya with her tongue — there was a challenge. But the student who wanted to taste every new fruit as well as huevos rancheros or gallo de pinto and thereafter to ask for seconds, that student would be a winner.