When I was 16 years old, I spent most of my waking hours trying to figure out how to steal booze from my parents without getting caught. But Sarah tells me, at age 16, that she's interested in international politics. Last year, she soaked up the atmosphere in London and France. This summer, she's planning a trip to Morocco so she can learn Arabic. One of her teachers, who is of Lebanese descent, has already given her some home instruction. Now, she will go to Rabat and undergo an "immersion" program in Arabic.
She's started a blog called Preparing for Morocco, where she goes by the name "Travlingirl." The cost of this trip is about $4,000. Her parents are helping out and she waitresses as well. Arabic is considered a "critical need language" by our State Department, but there is little money available to fund Americans willing to spend the time and energy for such a daunting task, especially when they're still in high school. This January, Sarah and her parents will do a fundraiser at a local restaurant.
She also has questions. What kind of clothing should she wear? What international cell phone would you recommend?
Beats me. Since most of my trips go no farther than Allentown, I have no answers. But some of you can answer her. I'll help by attending her January fundraiser when she announces it on her blog. I'll announce it here, too. I'd like to meet this amazing person and congratulate her parents.
We constantly hear that young people have no interest in anything but themselves and the newspapers will all fail, blah, blah, blah. Then a 16 year-old girl sends me an email indicating she reads blogs, newspapers and is going to Morocco next summer to learn Arabic. There's hope for us yet.