Kung Hei Fat Choi – Happy New Year!
If my e-card company is to be believed, yesterday was Chinese (Lunar) New Year. I’m skeptical because I haven’t heard reports about the New Year from any other sources. Isn’t New Year important enough to get a mention on the morning news, evening news, Jimmy Kimmel? China is only the most populous country on earth – don’t we care at all what’s happening in their world? Are we really just going to ignore a billion, three hundred million people? The NY Times can assure you that the Chinese aren’t ignoring us – but that’s a different matter entirely.
I find Americans to be far too insular. If you’ve ever watched the BBC World News – you get not only headlines for events around the world, you get in depth reporting. They don’t just tell you the weather in England, which I agree could be a short forecast – rain everywhere, the BBC gives you weather across Europe, Asia, Australia, Indonesia and, if we’re having any interesting weather, the US! I use the world weather forecast as a geography lesson and a math lesson (all temperatures are given in Celsius not Fahrenheit).
Israel has a program called Birthright. The program is a master stroke of propaganda, absolute genius. They will send, for free, American Jews – providing you’re young enough but not too young – to Israel to connect with their religious heritage. My daughter’s religious heritage ended when she didn’t want to learn Hebrew and dropped out of Temple classes. That’s not exactly true. In college she did join Hillel and participated in holidays – even finding a Seder to join when she was studying abroad in Bath. Who knew you could find Jews in Bath?
America should do something similar – send our world ignorant youth out into foreign lands to learn how other people live and to learn to appreciate what an amazing country we have. I’m a little worried that our youth would not necessarily represent our country in its best light. Perhaps careful selection of the kids we send. But the kids who are our most likely candidates to be the best goodwill ambassadors are the kids who don’t need to travel. They’re probably already exposed by their family to the diverse cultures of the world. Perhaps we can start an ambassador readiness program in inner city schools or within the foster care system. That would certainly be an incentive for many to work hard and do well.
Maybe it’s better to leave well enough alone.