So let’s take a look at my living room bookshelves, shall we? In amongst the volumes of African fiction and non-fiction, political science, voluntary simplicity and environmentalism, biography, classics, personal essays and creative non-fiction (much of it travel literature), there’s Tales of Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman (hardcover). Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Monkey Dancing, by Daniel Glick (hardcover).
Hmm. I’m detecting a trend here. Person/family leaves everything behind to travel the world/start new life overseas. No, I don’t have any surprises in store for Husband Dear, but I guess I have long entertained the fantasy/dream of ditching everything and moving overseas…or at least traveling for an extended period of time. (Does it say anything to you that I loved, loved, loved The Dove back in 1974?) I’ve spent a total of seven years of my life living overseas (six with Husband Dear) and as I’ve written here before, the only thing I have ever explicitly told my kids they must do is spend an extended period of time living overseas, be it high school exchange, gap year, junior year of college, Peace Corps….
Meanwhile, my downstairs bookshelf is weighted down with books about education and homeschooling and giftedness.
Enter The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost. Which had me at … the cover. Reading Frost’s book felt like being in a benevolent Vulcan mind meld or chatting with my upbeat new best friend. I devoured it.
Seamlessly combining my longheld vision of a life overseas and all my hardwon “radical” out-of-the-box educational notions/solutions/knowledge, Frost’s book coalesces the ideas and impulses that have been swirling around in my brain–and makes me want to do it all NOW.
Drat you Maya Frost!
Why? She’s kicking my snoozing dragon, that’s why. “The Plan” had always been for Husband Dear and me to bid the suburbs farewell and pursue international careers as soon as M. was in college. Over the years we’ve told the girls, more than half seriously, “When you’re out of here, we’re out of here.” But after reading The New Global Student I found myself spinning out different scenarios, accelerated timetables. Because if you’re already as far along as I am in questioning the whole educational industrial status quo, and in believing that we are in the midst of a fundamental global and societal shift–then what Frost lays out is simply the next logical move outside the box.
And what exactly is Frost saying?
- Step away from the herd. Step away from “doing time,” checking off the “right” extracurriculars and all the other “givens” of high school and college. Step away from the fear. To quote Twain: “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.
- It’s a whole new world (pity this year’s graduating journalism and finance majors)–and one that is ready and able to compete with us here in the US on all levels. Creativity, flexibility, initiative … these are the skills to cultivate in our kids, and the ones that will be rewarded in the future.
- Total immersion in another culture during the formative adolescent years is indeed crucial.
- And here, in an enthusiastic, step-by-step fashion, is how to do it.
C. actually grabbed the book before I started reading it. She has a pretty clear picture of what she needs to do to get where she wants to go, which includes university overseas. A few things, like IB, she’s already doing. But after reading The New Global Student she did for the first time express interest in doing a homestay exchange experience rather than just going solo somewhere, and she is now talking about wanting to have conversational Spanish in her skill set, something she pooh-poohed before. Meanwhile M. hasn’t even read the book yet, but just based on my oohs and ahhs she has taken to lobbying–hard–for us to move overseas sooner rather than later. In the past week there have been heated arguments with C. over whether we should move to somewhere in Latin America or to Thailand, whether Husband Dear should start a restaurant or be a CPA. “Mom,” she’s intoned, “I’m already out of school. And life here is stressful.”
Dear Husband is now in chapter two. Will be interesting to see his reaction.