In this Issue:

  • Study abroad preview
  • Memorial Day thoughts
  • No Daily Deac Friday or Monday

The days following Commencement are always slow days. People are catching up catching up on their emails and/or catching up on their sleep. And next Monday is Memorial Day, so many are going to get a head start on PTO, myself included.

Study abroad preview

Summertime makes me think of vacations and travel, so I have been thinking of our students who will be going abroad this summer or fall. My advice to families of students going abroad (and any of their students who might be reading) is to encourage your Deacs to lean in to the full experience when they are abroad. What do I mean by this?

Study abroad should be a balance of learning and fun. There will be classroom learning of course, and that is incredibly important. But there will also be the opportunity for deep learning internally. By that I mean students will be living in a foreign country, able to look at a different culture’s way of doing things. Encourage your abroad students to really pay attention to the culture, the politics, the art, the history of wherever they are. Sometimes that history might be painful, but don’t shy away from it. Learn from it. One of the most important – and poignant – lessons I learned at Wake, I learned abroad (see next section).

Your students may discover that other countries think about the US differently than we think about ourselves (I know that was a huge lesson for me in France in 1990 on the cusp of the gulf war). Some of the customs and practices of other countries might seem very strange. But in the words of Ted Lasso, be curious, not judgmental in those moments.

Your students will likely make mistakes while they are abroad (e.g., they may get lost, take the wrong train, misunderstand a store clerk, etc.). I remember not being able to figure out how a phone booth worked and had to have a local person show me how to open the door. They will feel discomfort at times. That is a normal part of the process. If you as parents and loved ones get a text or an email expressing that discomfort, don’t panic. Lean into the fact that your abroad students are experiencing exponential growth while they are away. Just as when you work new muscles at the gym and are sore afterwards, it is similar when you go abroad and are experiencing personal growth.

Most of all, I hope your students will dig in to having fun in their host country. Try that new food they have never heard of. Taste the local aperitif du jour. Go watch a pro football (soccer) match or a concert. Visit museums and galleries and parks and monuments. Take side trips to visit Wake friends in other countries.

Do it all, while you can, is what I want to tell students going abroad. I’d also tell them that their time abroad goes by all too fast, but the memories will be in your mind and your heart forever.

Memorial Day thoughts

Longtime Daily Deac-ers may recall that I like to tell this story around Memorial Day. Bear with me if you have heard it before (or skip past).

In the fall of 1990 when I was in the Dijon, France abroad program, our professor took us on a number of trips around the country. Normandy was one of those stops. We visitied the D-day beaches and the American cemetery. And in the fall of 1990, we were all cognizant of the looming January 1, 1991 deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait (or else face the prospect of war). Seeing the graves of US soldiers lost in WWII was a lump-in-throat moment given the times in which we were living.

For those of you who have been to Normandy, it is arguably one of the prettiest regions of France. It’s right on the coast, beautiful cliffs and beaches. The American cemetery is equally beautiful. There are perfect rows of seemingly endless graves of American soldiers. It is a stately and serene place, and a massively sad one.

As soon as my classmates and I stepped onto that hallowed ground, the meaning of Memorial Day – soldiers, sacrifice, loss, and reverence – became crystal clear. We walked through and read some of the tombstones, realizing many of the fallen soldiers were our own age. That hit home like a punch in the stomach. The costs of war, and the heartbreak of dying on foreign soil, became permanently etched in my mind.

My best Wake friend (who did the Dijon program with me) joined my family last July to go back to Normandy. My husband and our ’27 had never been there. And it was like going back in time. The beaches and the American cemetery are still so haunting and beautiful. Here are a few of our pics. The writing on the wreath is hard to see, but it reads “Dedicated to the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.

D-Day beaches, Normandy, France American cemetery, Normandy France Jewish grave, American cemetery Normandy. France

Normandy is the lesson I will take with me forever.

No Daily Deac Friday or Monday

I’m taking tomorrow off and then Monday is a holiday for Memorial Day, so the Daily Deac will be dark then. We’ll pick right back up next Tuesday.

Memorial Day honors those who have given their lives in service to our country. For any and all within the Daily Deacdom who have lost family members in service to the USA, please know we offer you our profound thanks for your loved one’s service and sacrifice.

May you have a peaceful and reflective long weekend.

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