One of my defining character traits is insane optimism. I'm so optimistic, I bet it makes your teeth hurt.
Strikes me that it's a necessary quality for being in the line of work I do. I truly believe that I am helping to make the world a better place, one student at a time, by facilitiating opportunities that will help them to be better world citizens and work for peace and justice.
And maybe I just don't like to think about the bad guys much.
Our opening speaker for today's conference was Andrei Codrescu. Do you know him? If not, go read up! He's amazing - a commentator on NPR, poet, writer, literature professor, wordsmith, dreamer, thinker. He came to the US from Romania in the 60's.
I heard him speak in person one time before, at another conference for a different international education organization. It was pre-September 11, 2001. He talked about language and how the work we are doing is helping people understand each other better. It was totally inspiring.
Now, remember that these 2 conferences I've been at were meant to have been held in New Orleans - where Codrescu lives part time. (He teaches in Baton Rouge, too). He was still able to join us for the Miami conference.
Here's the thing: the optimistic & inspiring part of him is still inside there, but he is VERY VERY bitter....about the lack of response to those (esp. in New Orleans) affected by the hurricane; about the current US administration and its policies and actions worldwide...you name it. You could hardly see the optimism for the bitterness. I am glad that he was honest about that. I think he is probably incisively honest about everything. We were collecting money at the door for hurricane relief and he said, "I see you are collecting money. I don't know who you will give it to, but don't give it to the Red Cross, because they didn't do ANYTHING."
He still believes, as he said, that "young people (of different countries) can erase stereotypes through some really serious hanging out." Which we hope they do around their serious academic work and classes!!! :)
I got to shake his hand afterward. Fortunately I didn't try to express the above to him because I'm sure he would have thought I was as insane as I sound.
still looking for the good...