"It's Good to Both Give and Receive" by Director of the Anderson/Cabot Center for EXCEL Ben Snyder
It happened so unexpectedly.
And was such a revelation.
My Modern America at War class was having a really interesting discussion about how easy it is for the 99% of Americans who don’t serve in the military not to feel threatened by the prospect of war—and how that shapes the attention we pay (or don’t pay) to potential military confrontations. Sitting next to me at the round table in the Memorial Room—during her first day of visiting classes at Nobles from our Japanese partner school in Sapporo— was Kahori, a young woman who had graciously introduced herself a few minutes before.
As the conversation progressed, the topic of North Korea emerged, and I could tell Kahori had edged a bit forward in her seat.
Not fully confident of her English facility, I took a risk in asking, “Kahori, might you have some perspective on this given Sapporo’s proximity to North Korea?”
After a pause to gather her thoughts she said, “Yes. Just two weeks ago the sirens went off with a warning because of a North Korean test. We were told that if or when an attack happens, we are to go to the subway as quickly as possible or get into our basements.”
My students nodded attentively, the implications of her words unfolding.
“Unfortunately, my family doesn’t live near the subway—and we don’t have a basement.”
And there was an almost audible silence around the table. Suddenly and unexpectedly, through the voice of a teenager we barely knew, the reality of the very human cost of war and our vulnerability became apparent.
Over the last twelve months Nobles students and families have welcomed student visitors from Japan, China, Spain, France and Turkey, and moments like these have created not just potential lifelong friendships but a new awareness in our students of the world around them.
Because of our visitors, the independence movement for Catalonia in Spain has new resonance. The prospect of war with North Korea and the potential impact on our Chinese and Japanese friends becomes real. Turkish classmates describe the recent political turmoil in personal terms.
We often talk of the importance of getting out into the world, but bringing the world to us is valuable and important. Because of the generosity of many Nobles families to receive our visitors, these opportunities to learn, share, grow and perhaps most importantly develop new friendships are available. If you have not yet had the privilege of hosting a visiting student, I strongly encourage you to do so. Please talk to a family who has taken advantage of the opportunity, and they will surely convince you.
And perhaps if you’re fortunate, you’ll have a moment like my class had with Kahori around your dinner table.