Sunday, January 09, 2011

Study Abroad at JPII!

There’s an old joke which I have told many times:

What do you call a person who can speak many languages? Multi-lingual.
What do you call someone who can speak two languages? Bi-lingual.
What do you call a person who can only speak one language? An American.

That's funny, mostly because there's too much truth in it. The average European child, by the time he or she reaches the age of 13, has learned two or three languages, and many more than that. We are unusual at JPII in that we require you to take a language for three years (most private schools require 2), but the truth is, we hope you’ll even consider taking a 4th year in your senior year.

Why? One of the great advantages of learning a new language is that we begin to understand and appreciate cultures different than our own. The foundation of ignorance is isolation. When we are around people that think like we do, talk like we do, and share most of the same assumptions that we do, we’re often trapped inside a cocoon from which it’s hard to escape. Many colleges, for this reason, have begun study abroad programs, in which students study for a semester or a year in a foreign country, usually in their sophomore or junior year.

Our goal at JPII is to provide you a world class education. As most of you know, for the last two years we’ve been working on a new strategic plan for the school, imagining together those initiatives we should implement to further your education over the next five years. One such initiative is a foreign travel initiative: we want to offer you more opportunities to travel abroad.

Five years ago we began the Loughlin Exchange program, in which freshmen from JPII spend three weeks with freshmen from St. Edmunds Catholic school in England, and then they three weeks with us. It’s been a resounding success. Those of you who have been fortunate enough to be named a Loughlin Scholar will attest to the great experience it was, in that it not only allowed you to develop friendships with students and families from a different continent, but it also gave you new insights and broadened your world view.

Last month, we were very pleased to begin planning on a second exchange program, this time with students from Muenster, Germany. We are taking up to 20 JPII sophomore and junior students to Germany in the early summer, and they will be hosting students this spring. To date we have 17 applicants for this program, so there is still time and room to sign up, and I encourage you to do so. See Mrs. McCormack, who I have hired to help us coordinate our foreign travel programs.

Your opportunities to travel won’t be limited to exchange programs. Mrs. Wortman and Mr. Stephenson are taking some of you to Paris this spring. We’re excited about that! Ms. Donovan will be taking a group of students to the Honduras this summer to do mission work, if there’s enough interest. Next fall, we hope to sponsor a trip to Rome. We’re in discussions about trips to other countries in Europe.

I am pleased that we have a well traveled faculty here who are eager to sponsor these trips, and we’re working through a calendar of where we’ll be going over the next two years so that you can plan and save for trips you might like to attend.

Look for that calendar to be published in the near future.

Have a good week!

1 comment:

kkollwitz said...

The Cathedral in Bonn, a lovely example of German Romanesque, which is often more appealing in its variety and robustness than the more formulaic and delicate Gothic.

Speaking of speaking other languages, here's a bit of indirect advice: if someone speaks a language better than you, it means they've made more mistakes speaking it than you. So be fearless, let the words fly, make a thousand mistakes, and learn.