Shakespeare was a few hundred years ahead of his time when he wrote “All the world’s a stage” in As You Like It. In this day and age, however, we will certainly be doing well for our children if we make it a priority to encourage and help them become successful players on the world stage.
Cincinnati – the reluctant global player
Playing in the world, not in the neighborhood
Many of us Summit parents grew up in Cincinnati, never having to venture far to have successful, fulfilling lives and careers. Even today we may feel it is possible to live that way. However, global is here, want it or not, touching so much of our lives, knowingly or unknowingly. As much as some may view us as a mid-size, midWestern city, Cincinnati is on the global stage. Consider a product purchased that seemed so reasonably priced and where it was made: Mexico or China, perhaps? Or that tasty fruit bought in the middle of winter and from where it came: possibly South America? Or that top-rated television show or movie and who made it: maybe Canadian or British? Without overstating the situation, it is practically impossible to go through a day without contact with a part of the world far, far away from Cincinnati. Some of Cincinnati’s biggest corporate citizens are truly global. In fact, Fortune magazine’s top ten list of most admired global corporations include three with major operations in Cincinnati. Their executives’ children are well represented in The Summit’s enrollment, as are some international students hosted by local families. Interestingly, one of the largest, Procter & Gamble, recently adopted a new diversity mantra that adapts an age-old golden rule for the world we live in today – “Treat others as they want to be treated”, not “as you want to be treated”. This is a small change with major ramifications. Diversity has been much talked about in recent years, in corporate corridors, in political circles, and at The Summit. Our approach has evolved to not only think of valuing and respecting differences, but also in terms of giving everyone an equal place at the table, to be fully inclusive. To be clear we can and should do more… in our student body representation, in our faculty and staff, and in our curriculum. It is no longer an afterthought, but more and more often a well-considered strategy.
Turning to our children, consider how different their world is from the one in which most of us grew up. Children used to vacation only in the United States; now they travel all over the world. Children used to play mainly with neighbors; now they are instant messaging friends all over town, as well as are playing and communicating online with children all over the world. With the latest video game systems they talk to and team up with people from around the globe. They quickly learn cultural differences in communication. They learn to be sensitive to different approaches, and know they need to do this if they want to succeed in the games.
Creating Intuitive Global Citizens Many of us adults have been trained in computers. Our children have also had training in computers, but once they have the basics they approach the latest innovations on the computer intuitively – no manuals, no online tutorials, they just dive in and work it out intuitively. In similar fashion, our aspiration should be to give our children some of the skills, enough of the exposure and a lot of open mindedness to become intuitive global citizens. The Summit Diversity Mission calls for “fostering an inclusive environment that embraces every individual enabling them to fully contribute to the world they inherit”. It rightfully calls for an approach that accepts people for who they are and what they uniquely bring to the “world table”. Our mission should be to make sure that by the time our children leave the school, we have given them the tools to naturally and without apprehension be comfortable working alongside any person, whether it be from Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati to Rhine, Germany, and from Lima, Ohio to Lima, Peru. Then they will be comfortable on the world stage. And then they will certainly improve the world they inherit.
Neil Comber, Summit Trustee.
compassion & understanding
Triumph Over Barriers
Animated and laughing, the second graders in Kathleen Kane’s 2006-2007 class skipped jovially into the classroom – all except one. Felix Schindler fearfully clutched his mother’s hand and had a frown on his face. He clearly didn’t want to be there that first day of school. Soon it became apparent why. Felix couldn’t speak English. Reinhard and Doris Schindler had just transferred to Cincinnati in the summer of 2006 with their son Felix and daughter Emma, from Bludenz, Austria. Felix could only speak German. “For the first month or so Felix fought school tremendously,” explained Mrs. Kane. “He would scream and cry. He just did not want to be here. Some days he wouldn’t even look at me or say a word the entire day.” To help Felix adjust, his mother stayed in the classroom with him for the first few days. After Felix was somewhat familiar with his class, his mother stopped accompanying him, but he only stayed until lunch. In Austria, students his age only attend school half day, and field trips are a daily occurrence. Starting at The Summit, Felix had to make many adjustments. Elaine Pearl, Associate Director of Admissions for the Lower School, anticipated these issues by contacting seventh grade English teacher Steve Penticuff, who speaks German fluently. Mr. Penticuff lived in Germany as a foreign exchange student when he was sixteen. He didn’t know German when he arrived, so he could relate to Felix’s situation. He met with the Schindlers twice prior to the beginning of school to establish a relationship with them. “Since I am not from Cincinnati either, I felt we were outsiders together. We had something in common.” Once school started, Mr. Penticuff checked on Felix daily. “There was a time when he knew I would be coming, and just seeing me, a familiar face that had some kind of connection to his family, was helpful,” he explained. “I would chat with him, always in German, ask him a couple of questions, ask him if there was anything he wanted to tell anybody, and ask if he needed clarification on any assignments. Just to get through the day was survival, an incredible task for him.” Mrs. Kane noted that “There were a couple of times when Felix would get very upset and very emotional, and I would have Mr. Penticuff come over and talk to him to see what the problem was.”
She recalled one particularly rough morning early on. “Felix was screaming and crying. I knelt down next to him, and I said to him, ‘Felix, you know, this is your job. Your mom and dad have their jobs – they go to work. I have my job; I come to teach you. Your job is to come here as a student and learn.’ He looked up at me and said, ‘I don’t want to go to school.’ I looked at him, and I said, ‘Felix, that was beautiful English!’ After I said that, he had this look on his face like, ‘I kind of let her know that I understand a little bit.’” This was the turning point. Mrs. Kane tried to help Felix adjust by using some German with him. “I went to the library and got a children’s book on German words,” she said. “My husband, who speaks German, would help me with the worksheets. He would take the directions and re-write them in German for me to explain to Felix.” He was not comfortable reading in English out loud until December. When Mrs. Kane would call on him to read, he would shake his head and refuse. “One day I called on him, and he read for the first time. The kids all started clapping,” said Mrs. Kane. The support Felix received from his classmates encouraged him, and by the end of the year he was actively involved in classroom activities, raising his hand and volunteering. “I don’t think his progress was anything that anyone particularly did. I think it was just everyone working together,” she said. Felix blossomed in the second semester, once he began to feel comfortable at school. “He’s even a better reader than some of my other children now,” said Mrs. Kane. “It’s amazing how he has picked it up. He is very bright. Just the other day he said he couldn’t think of the German word for something and told me, ‘I think I’ve lost my German!’” “He taught us a lot,” she continued. “It was scary for the kids at the beginning of the year when he was screaming and crying and throwing fits, but they saw how hard he had to work even with the simple reading. I think Felix showed them how to stay with something. I also think the children learned a lot about compassion and understanding.” Felix’s success story reflects the willingness of The Summit community to help others triumph over challenges. “That is special to Summit,” said Mrs. Kane. “We have many resources within our own community, and people are willing to help.” “We just have a really nice network of connections,” said Mr. Penticuff. “I think we are very friendly and giving as a faculty, and of course we’re going to share those talents.”
by Kelly Wilson ’09 15
As you will discover by reading about our alumni profiled here, Summit graduates can be found throughout the world. Having spent varying amounts of time in Spain, Guam, England, Turkey, Italy and Australia, our featured graduates write about how they have incorporated their Summit upbringing and experiences into lives spent mostly outside the United States. In addition, on-going hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan have made us more aware of Summit alumni in uniform around the world. We recognize the danger that our graduates presently stationed abroad live in daily, and some of us wear wristbands which remind us that “SCD supports OUR troops.” Over a century ago, The Summit was founded by a community of European nuns who made it their mission to train “the heart, the head and the hands” of girls (and later boys). Over the years, the school has evolved and changed:
Throughout a century-plus of working with children, The Summit has always been a school with an international flavor and roots. Established by twenty Sisters of Notre Dame with historical ties to Belgium, The Summit was first linked to the European Montessori methodology in 1924, when Sisters Josephine Mary and Marie Angela toured schools in Scotland and England. Illustrious early faculty brought with them a native Irish brogue, a Continental perspective, and songs from their homeland. And with the creation of America’s first country day program in the late 1920’s came the school’s La Maison Francaise for intensive study in French. Today, The Summit retains much of its international flavor. Students from countries such as Spain, Mexico, France, Italy, Germany and Canada enroll here due to the multi-national outreach of major employers such as The University of Cincinnati, Proctor and Gamble, and Chiquita. Our students’ ethnic and global heritage is studied and celebrated in classrooms throughout the year and showcased in grand style during an ever-expanding Multicultural Week. The Classical Languages program in the Middle and Upper School has a robust enrollment, and we are savoring a state championship in Latin, won this past winter. Four seniors from the Class of 2007 were accepted to universities in Canada (McGill and Waterloo Universities), Scotland (University of Glasgow) and England (London School of Economics) this past spring.
- The Sisters have given way to lay faculty. - The Pavillion has been replaced by Holmes Gym. - The front entrance now opens from Grandin Road. - And our students come from, learn about and graduate to the world now more than ever. We invite you to enjoy the pages which follow, meeting some of our more far-flung alumni and learning about the international community which is The Summit of today.
barbara (foley) van den Broeck
â€™61 Paris, France
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris… then wherever you go, for the rest of your life, it stays with you…” -- Ernest Hemmingway
Hemingway’s quote truly speaks for me of these past thirty years that Paris has been my home. It was a classic… meeting a Frenchman in Cincinnati, getting married in Summit’s lovely chapel, then moving with Claude to Paris. Merci, Proctor & Gamble! Life was never the same again, as my tourist status changed to “privileged resident.” I began to “bloom where I was planted,” as I joined this and other programs. Many clubs help people acclimate to Parisian life, so I found myself getting involved as Vice President and Secretary of the American Catholic Women’s Club for many years, and the American Wives of Europeans group. I met people like me and began to have a support system, which I found essential. One day I realized that I too was a cheese-loving, baguette-wielding girl in her black outfit going to the market, pooch following behind, to do errands with my straw basket swinging! All those dialogues in our French grammar came to life as I strolled to those great places, Boulevard St. Michel, Café de la Paix and beyond in this elegant city dressed in light. Paris is perhaps the most beautiful city on earth: centuries-old monuments, wonderful museums, promenades, haute cuisine, even great pride exhibited in the rows of patisseries in the baker’s window. There is a real quality of life here. From the beginning, I immersed myself into this multi-culturalism. With Claude, I enjoyed two cultures, two backgrounds and two languages. The tricky part was learning over the years how to handle these two ways of life, but the fun part was enjoying it to the hilt. Our greatest joy was the arrival of the children: Annemarie when we lived in Spain, and Christy, Marc and Claire here in Paris. All four are bilingual, bicultural and very international. Being involved in the international schools and continuing even now to substitute teach often solidified my support system and helped me become more and more at home abroad. It is true, there is a bureaucracy that exists in France. For example, the idea that a job is guaranteed for life, the
strikes and manifestations that are a daily occurrence and endless red tape. I reserve the right to critique the French when I see fit, but strongly object to this by people who don’t know the country or the people. I blundered often over the years. Claude’s family spoke little English. At those first dinners in Montpellier, I could only think of how to conjugate this or that verb as the entire table fell silent, staring at me, waiting for me to respond. Who else could have called that famous museum “Jeu de Paume” the “jus the pomme” (apple juice) or use the “tu” tense when speaking to a diplomat. My driving is very French I am told (not good). Perhaps also some of my mannerisms and gestures have been modified. I have learned fascinating things about the French and feel at home here. I have learned to accept people as they do me, despite my accent. It is a unique situation – assimilation into this culture and integration, identification with both ways of life. Clearly this life experience played a powerful role in my interpretation of the world in general. I may be a bit of a “Europeanized” American but I never doubted my native identity. I understand that who I am will always be a reflection of who I was. Our children embrace their American and French upbringing: Annemarie is now Assistant Deputy Director of the French American Chamber of Commerce in New York City. Christy recently earned her MBA at Columbia University. Marc works for FOX News Channel and Claire will be graduated this spring from St. Louis University. Claude has been ill for quite some time now, which certainly modified our way of life. But even in these times we are lucky to be living in Paris. While hoping and praying for a cure, Paris has been and is our home. I do get to Cincinnati and see as often as possible the girls from my Class of 1961. And when we are together, it is like we have never gone our separate ways. Note:
Sadly, Barbara lost her beloved husband, Claude, on July 31, 2007.
’01 Rome, Italy
Right now I am living in Rome, Italy and I have been here since September of 2005. After I completed college in Florence (Italy), where I studied International Relations, I moved to Rome and accepted an internship offer from the United Nations Children’s Fund-Italian Committee. During my internship, other than the translation of international and national documents into English or Italian, I organized seminars, meetings, and events with other UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on various issues related to children in developing countries, such a child protection (trafficking, sexual exploitation), child soldiers, and HIV/AIDS. During my stay in Rome I attended a course taught by the Department of Education on Peace and International Solidarity of Cariats Rome, an organization that deals with aide issues both nationally and internationally. This Department focuses on international problems with a specific focus on war and conflict resolution. At the end of this course a group of people was asked to undergo special training for an on-theground experience in Bosnia and Kosovo. I was accepted by the Department for a oneyear contract. In October of 2006, I started working for this Department, where my main tasks are to take care of the international projects/activities done throughout the world (Congo, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Guatemala and other countries), and to update the press review and country information bulletins (as well as the translation of documents in other languages into Italian). This I do for all the countries where we have projects, as well as all countries where there are currently major conflicts (for example, the Sudan). I am also collaborating with an Italian NGO that has various projects in the African nation of Eritrea where I spent some time in September 2006. The projects include microcredit loans for single mothers (loans under $100), foster homes for street children, and the construction of wells and dams.
Why am I in Italy? Granted I am Italian, but due to my father’s job I have lived abroad since the age of six. We lived in various countries (Turkey, England, Venezuela, the US, and Greece); my international experience has taught me that every country has its advantages and disadvantages. I believe no country is better than any other, however, a certain country may be more fitting or appropriate. At the end of high school, I felt coming back to Italy was most fitting for me. I needed a change, a challenge, but most importantly, I felt the need to live in an environment that included many of the values that I was brought up with and that I find to be typically Italian (the way of living a family life, a certain way of relating to people, the art and a certain historical culture, and the importance given to politics, for example). My family is from Rome, but I chose Florence because of the quality of the Political Science faculty at the university there and also because living in Florence allowed me to walk every day in an open-air museum. For example, every morning on my way to class, I had to pass in front of the Duomo, one of the most famous and beautiful structures in the city -- to me this was very important. I think that one of the things I have learned along the way is the importance of communication. Communication is the root to all relationships. We as humans cannot live without relating to others. Through communication we learn not only to understand others, but also we learn to understand ourselves. It is in observing others, in trying to understand them, that we can better see what is wrong and right in us! Diversity in its positive connotation does not exist, from my point of view. This is because it still needs to be guaranteed. There will be diversity when we no longer have quotas and percentages that need to be respected for the admitting and hiring of African Americans or Hispanics in the U.S. I believe that only when we don’t feel the need to use such a term that diversity will truly exist. As long as we feel we need to talk about it we are indirectly saying that society is not diverse and that it needs to be. My thoughts about multiculturalism are similar. The other day I was leading a workshop that dealt with prejudice and a young girl said to me, “What you are saying (on the wrongness of prejudice) may be right… but I think it’s hard not to judge certain groups of people” . I appreciated her honesty and I think she spoke for much of humanity. The truth is that all people find difficulty in accepting those that are different. I plan to attend graduate school in the United States, or maybe England, where I hope to concentrate on human rights issues. And I would also like to have a long-term fieldbased experience in a developing country.
“ One of the things I have learned along the way is the importance of communication. Communication is the root to all relationships and we as humans cannot live without relating to others.”
At this particular stage in my life, I reside in Gourdon, a tiny rural seaside village in Scotland. Besides being “mummy” to four amazing, intelligent children and one thoroughly spoiled gun dog, I run my own small business from home: I hand-tailor highland kilts, design knitwear, and do my own wee bit to help promote hand crafts and old traditions like knitting, dyeing and spinning wool. All combined have lead me to be featured in a few newspapers in the United Kingdom, as well as on BBC Radio Scotland. Additionally, I do an odd bit of painting now and again, and involve myself in the local community by volunteering. My university training had me working in costume design and construction for the Cincinnati Ballet, The Playhouse in the Park, the Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and The Dayton Ballet. When I moved here there were no local ballet, opera or theatre companies, so I did an apprenticeship with a master kiltmaker. It’s a dying art apparently, and what better place to learn it than Scotland! I love being able to further my interest in traditional and period garments, their design and construction. I ended up over here because my husband is a native of Aberdeen, Scotland. Because of his work in the North Sea oil industry, I have lived in Edmonton, Alberta and St. John’s, Newfoundland, in London and in Aberdeen, Scotland. All told
I haven’t lived back “home” in the U.S. for about ten years! I know it sounds cliché, but over the years I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. Life is too short to worry about what other people think or say about you, to worry about material possessions or where you are a status ladder. After being an oil industry wife gypsy, moving all around to new cities and countries and meeting all sorts of people and making new acquaintances, you find that real friends are friends no matter what and lots of possessions are a burden, and that the most important thing worth holding on to with everything you’ve got is family. It’s not worth worrying about things or people that try to bring you down. If something isn’t raising you up, then it’s not worth a minute of your time. Life is too short. Don’t stress. Living outside of the U.S., I realize that everyone is not as gung ho about baseball, hot dogs and apple pie as one would like to believe. It’s not easy being American in a world where being American is not as good a thing as America would have you believe (twisted sentence, I know, but it’s true.) I am constantly barraged with conversation and remarks on radio, television and in everyday living where Americans are stereotyped as fat, ignorant, rude, wasteful, loud and arrogant, but I know that losing my temper and getting upset (a Scot might say ‘bolshy’) about it would just prove their point! I heard
“ It’s not easy being an American in a world where being an American is not as good of a thing as America would have you believe.”
quite a lot of insensitive remarks after 9/11, which I found shocking, but at the same time I could understand where that sort of thinking comes from. I think if you’ve never been out of the U.S. for any length of time, you wouldn’t be able to condone such remarks or listen to other ideas about it. It’s a touchy subject, but rampant flagwaving outside of the U.S. isn’t going to garner any love for America. Touchy subject, I know, but I have to try to understand where those ideas are coming from, and with my own behavior, counteract such negativism. I know I have been successful for the most part here in the small village, which is rather an insular community. I also have come to terms with the idea that no matter what, I will always be an outlander, or a “come from away” to the people here, who are born, live and die in this place and have always done so. Other cultures deserve respect, a healthy interest in learning about and appreciating them, and especially acceptance of what limitations that may impose on our own behavior. My future plans involve getting my eldest children through university here in the United Kingdom, and to continue on with my work in tailoring and other fiber-related arts. I think as the children all grow older and leave the nest, I will do more painting. I find motherhood too much of a
distraction from that sort of thing at the moment, but God willing I will have time to return to it, once my children see fit to try out their wings. Living by the sea, by hillsides dotted with sheep and lined by low, ancient stone walls, I plan to live happily ever after... or I will at least bide my time here until life’s journey casts me adrift yet again!
helen (kim) Ralph
â€œ Never in my wildest dreams did I feel I would have had the opportunity to visit over 75 countries, live in four locations outside the United States, and be able to speak another language.â€?
steve S chueler
BMS â€™80 Moscow, Russia
I am currently living in Moscow, Russia and working for Procter and Gamble as Director of Eastern Europe. This is my forth international assignment (Argentina, Venezuela, Korea, and now Russia) with the company. After my graduation from The Summit, and armed with the strong foundation the school and my family afforded me, I had a strong urge to see the world. Never in my wildest dreams did I feel I would have had the opportunity to visit over 75 countries, live in four locations outside the United States, and be able to speak another language. I am so grateful for the strong foundation The Summit blessed me. As I look back on the eight years I have lived outside of the US, a few quotes come to mind: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page." -- St. Augustine "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.â€? -- Anonymous "You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself." -- Anonymous "Stability is not immobility." -- Anonymous I have had the good fortune to experience so many cultures, countries, and people. I truly believe the stronger your foundation the more you are willing to stretch yourself to accept new ideas and adventures. The strong foundation provided to me by my family (my mother Phyllis Schueler, the current Director of The Summit Montessori School) and The Summit enabled me to continue increasing my quest to discover new ways of living and thinking. In my time outside the United States, I have learned: to speak Spanish, to accept different cultures, to view the United States from other perspectives, to meet some amazing people, and to see some spectacular sights. As an American, I have learned to be more accepting of different cultures and points of view. I believe we have a responsibility to be leaders in the global marketplace while also leading change in helping those less fortunate. I wish you all the opportunity to travel, experience new cultures, and see the world from a different point of view.
janet (hesselbrock)D ionigi
“ A powerful education enpowers children to make genuine choices over the kind of lives that they wish to lead and, ultimately, opens an infinite number of doors that otherwise would probably remain closed.”
Born on June 1, 1947, daughter of John Joseph Hesselbrock, M.D. University of Cincinnati Medical School, and Eleonor Krieger, I spent the first 23 years of my life in Cincinnati. I completed my secondary studies at The Summit in 1965, following my brother, John Joseph Hesselbrock, Jr., who graduated from the Summit Boys School in 1964. After earning a BS from Ohio State University, I worked as a biologist for the Department of Surgery, Division of Organ Transplantation, University of Cincinnati, where I met my future husband, Renzo Dionigi, an Italian Surgical Fellow, during a kidney transplant. In January 1970, I set aside my job, a Master’s Degree in Immunology at the University of Cincinnati that was in progress, as well as acceptance into Veterinary School, and went to Italy “for love” and marriage. Since then, I have been a full-time wife, mother,
recent grandmother, and home manager, supporting Renzo’s medical career, on his journey to becoming a University Professor of Surgery, and later as Rector of the University of Insubria in Varese and Como. We have three children: Adriana, M.D., who is permentently residing in Boston and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, redoing her pathology residency. She is married to Bradley Scott Corben, who received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brandeis University and is currently CEO of Brädam Creative New York - Boston - London; Gianlorenzo, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery, married to Monica, M.D., pediatrician, and who are the parents of Eleonora; and Marta, a marketing associate in a prominent Italian grocery chain after an internship in marketing and logistics with the University of Insubria.
I am a member of International Inner Wheel which is one of the largest women’s voluntary service organizations in the world. Currently Inner Wheel has more than 100,000 members in over 101 countries. We hold Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status with the United Nations and have representatives in Geneva, New York and Vienna, and are therefore able to play an important role in today’s world. We are the sister organization of Rotary International, and work closely with Rotary members. Through Friendship, Service and International Understanding, Inner Wheel members help to change lives for the better. International Inner Wheel supports the International Social Project: UNICEF Global Education for Girls. I am so fortunate to have received a quality education at The Summit. My sincere wish is to ensure that it is the norm for every child. Nothing has as remarkable an impact on children and young people as a good education. A powerful education enpowers children to make genuine choices over the kind of lives that they wish to lead and, ultimately, opens an infinite number of doors that otherwise would very probably remain closed. When educational systems are free of gender bias, when a society educates girls as well as boys, it is one of the best investments we can make. An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence she needs to be a better parent, worker and citizen. Educating girls educates nations.
After holding different Inner Wheel Club and District positions, I was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow special recognition from the Rotary Foundation. As current Inner Wheel District Treasurer, I am custodian of the funds of District 204°, Italy, which comprises 38 Clubs. Through my travels as a goodwill ambassador, I have had the pleasure of exchanging friendship and banners with many Inner Wheel Clubs throughout the world (Africa, Australia, Egypt, England, Finland, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Swizerland, and the United States) and I hope to make many more contacts in the future. Living in Europe has been very exciting and stimulating. The 37 years that I have spent in Italy have taught me to be outgoing, to meet new people every day, to observe, to learn, to be open-minded, to think positively, and to take the best from both cultures. I guess this explains my enthusiasm for the interesting Italian - American life style I am fortunate to lead. Remember to follow your heart, to love, to care for your children and promote their decisions for quality education and religion. A sincere thank you to The Summit!
“Are you Canadian or American?” is the first question asked once they realize I am not Australian, followed by, “I love your accent”, which I find very amusing. That question is always asked because they don’t want to assume either one and offend me if they guess wrong. “I’m American with a Danish name,” I politely answer back. I dropped my first name and have been using my middle name, Elken, for over 25 years now. This really throws people off but in some way I feel I fit in better with Sydney’s large melting pot of immigrants. “Why are you here?” quickly becomes the next question. To which I reply, “Because I can be here.” It’s hard for some to imagine that I moved to Sydney, Australia after selling my house, and car, putting my personal belongings in storage and arriving with no job, no place to live and only two phone numbers. After leaving The Summit I attended an art and design school in New Jersey and started working in New York City, and from there it was on to San Diego, Guam, and then Denver. My late father earned a living traveling the world making films, and at times I accompanied him, allowing me to fully enjoy and appreciate different cultures. He also had a huge sense of adventure and always taught me to try anything at least once; if it doesn’t work out at least you can say you tried. But in my case it wasn’t about saying I tried, but about saying I did it and what an incredible journey it can be along the way. For me it’s all about the next challenge and what steps and processes will get me there; it’s about developing my own purpose in life. Sitting in my newly remodeled house one day with the many luxuries we could all ask for (the nice car, high-paying job, family near by, friends, lavish vacation trips), I asked myself…what else can I accomplish? Finding myself single and childless, I knew I had options. I decided to trade it all in and move overseas once again. Having an Australian uncle as a citizen made the process easier, but I was running out of time. To qualify for a skill visa with sponsorship, I had to be under the age of 45 -- I had to seize the opportunity. After two years of endless forms, physicals, FBI and police clearance, I became an Australian Permanent Resident. I can now stay here as long as I like and can qualify to become a citizen if I choose after five years. Spending a vacation and living in Australia are certainly not the same, and I was not prepared for all the differences. Each challenge when first confronted was frustrating, maddening, and annoying. Now I use those early experiences
“ I have embraced every frustrating, disappointing, sad, laughable, happy and enjoyable challenge for I’m living my life and not letting my life live me.”
jennifer elken (bumiller) M axwell
when I first arrived to make others laugh. A funny story: during my first month in Sydney a group of people invited me to come join them at the Epping Hotel for some fun. Looking at them rather oddly, shocked and very insulted, I said very firmly, “No, I’m sorry. I won’t be joining you.” That night telling my flatmate what I was invited to, he rolled over from laughter. The Epping Hotel is the local bar where not only can you get drinks, but it is also a very nice restaurant as well. I still have a good laugh about that and I have been to the Epping Hotel on many occasions and it’s a very nice place… with no beds. I’m currently employed with Ikea in the Communication and Design Department, and being with a Swedish company has made my fitting in easier. In the store where I work, the 300 employees represent 55 different nationalities. I take the train to my office and because of the mild weather year-round, I am able to walk to other places (since I don’t own a car.) I’m also entitled to four weeks holiday, along with a 38-hour work week. At times I still have a hard time adjusting to such an easier lifestyle with less stress in my life. I still think back to my 55-hour, six-day work week and two weeks of vacation. I told my boss the other day: I’m not used to all this free time, not quite sure what I’ll do with myself. One of many challenges living here has been learning the metric system and fortunately for me it’s easier than learning the Imperial system. I’ve also had to adjust to different uses of words: for example, a “pram” is a baby stroller and my favorite word “rubbish” refers to trash. Even without trying, anybody living here will eat healthy and lose weight. There are times when I have a craving for a late-night snack though
restaurants close early, even shopping centers close at 6:00 PM and there are no IHOP, Wendy’s, Village Inn, etc… Gosh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it… and the proportions of food served at restaurants are considerably smaller than in the United States. Overall, being here is a wonderful experience and I feel young at heart. I have embraced every frustrating, disappointing, sad, laughable, happy and enjoyable challenge for I’m living my life and not letting my life live me. I hope because of this incredible experience to write that novel I have started many times but never seem able to finish. Allow me to close with two of my favorite quotations: “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences”.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart”
’04 Hangzhou, China
I am currently a junior at Middlebury College, located in Middlebury, Vermont. I have chosen to spend this term abroad in China. January and February were spent in Beijing doing intensive language study at Beijing Institute of Education (BIE). Now, for the spring term, I am studying in the more southern location of Hangzhou in the Zhejiang province at the Zhejiang University of Technology (ZUT). I’m still studying Chinese language as well as Chinese architecture, business, and literature. All classes are also taught in Chinese, which makes my coursework especially challenging! I think study abroad is a very important part of the college experience. I knew I wanted to study abroad when I went college searching and, luckily, chose to go to a school that has great international opportunities. This is my second time living abroad. In Fall 2004, I lived in Scotland and took courses at the University of Aberdeen, because Middlebury’s February student admission program allowed me to have a fall semester without classes. It was at Aberdeen that I realized how important it is to know that the world is much larger than my hometown. I knew I wanted to study abroad again in my junior year in a country but with an added twist: I wanted to live in a country where people did not speak my native language. With that in mind, I always get asked “Why Chinese? Isn’t that hard?” Yes, Chinese is hard. That is a fact. I must also say, though, that choosing to take such a challenging language is the most rewarding decision I’ve made in my life. I wanted to see Asia so badly because my parents have been there. Asia was so foreign to me that I had never thought that actual people lived, breathed, and died with such magnificent ancient history behind them. China had always been to me just a remote place with dynasties that I was made to memorize for World History class. You could say I don’t know exactly why I signed up but, nevertheless, I found myself sitting with fifty other scared students in Chinese 101 at the start of my sophomore year. I just couldn’t fathom Chinese syllables coming out of my mouth and pronouncing intelligible sounds. In hindsight, I’d say I signed up because I needed a challenge, although I had no idea how much my casual decision would impact my view of the world and my life. Living abroad has taught me many things. It has widened my view of the world immensely. I have opened myself up to a new culture where three times the population of the U.S. consists of farmers. Even now, those statistics still continue to
to astound me! It has also taught me, if anything, to roll with the punches. When you aren’t used to any of your surroundings, you can’t get angry if things don’t work out conveniently, can you? It has also taught me to rely on myself and be more independent. If you are scared to explore your backyard, you will miss out on some really wonderful experiences. Even if you wind up being overcharged for the pearls you just bought, at least you’ve learned not to buy anything at the first price offered. I took my first day trip to Tiananmen Square and ended up meeting two Chinese girls who wanted to know about the U.S. We spent the entire afternoon in a teahouse talking about all sorts of things! Most importantly, I learned the importance of staying connected to family and friends. Sure, it’s fun to live on your own and be independent. It’s nice to think of yourself without any strings attached. Living abroad taught me, though, that one who has no strings attached just floats along without a place to call “home” . I found that, sometimes, those who are living 7,000 miles away are the only people who can make you smile when you are down. For me, Cincinnati is my home. My family and friends are my home. I am immensely indebted to them for their undying support of my endeavors and it’s important to me not only to keep my eyes on where I’m going, but also, not to forget where all of my magnificent opportunities originated. The Summit played a special role in helping me decide what path I wanted my life to take. The world is developing in such a way where, to succeed in the competitive business arena, one must be educated. That is where Summit comes in. I feel that my education from The Summit adequately prepared me to recognize the opportunities available to me and to “grab the ring” (as Latin teacher Mr. Larry Dean would always say) and not just let them pass me by. The Summit taught me to reflect on what my priorities are and how to take action to achieve my goals. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that going to The Summit created the opportunity to go to an outstanding college with a nationally-recognized language program. The education, the teachers, and the students all helped in creating an environment where I believed I could succeed in whatever I sought to accomplish. Now I’m focusing on honing my language skills and graduate (business or law) school is definitely in my future plans.
“ If you are scared to explore your backyard, you will miss out on some wonderful experiences.” 32
eric L ee
’00 Hong Kong, China
After my days at The Summit, I went to Clemson University in South Carolina for my BS degree in Microbiology. Currently, I am in Hong Kong working on my Master’s Degree at the University of Hong Kong -- my research topic is breast cancer. The reason I returned to Hong Kong is because I was born and raised here. And, of course, I missed the food! I believe that traveling from Hong Kong to the United States, and back again, I learned something important from my host family, the Caladaros. Classmate Zak Caladaro’s mother served as my surrogate mother. One time I really didn’t want to go to school and to class... I believe it was English. But Mrs. Caladaro kept telling me to go. She said I would never know what I might encounter and I might get something extra out of it. So I went. I remember I had to wake up really early in the morning, which I never love to do. But at the end of that day I believe I had a good experience and learned something new about literature. My mind was at peace after class. Mrs. Caladaro taught me to keep trying new things, especially things that I don’t even like to do... and always look for something extra and unexpectedly good out of a situation. Ever since then I have not been afraid of trying anything new. Friends in Hong Kong said that I was becoming more American when they saw me again. And I think my confidence had a lot to do with what Mrs. Caladaro (and The Summit) gave me.
“ keep trying new things… and always look for something extra and unexpectedly good out of a situation.”
Published on Jan 4, 2011
Summit graduates can be found throughout the world. In this Summit magazine story, a group of far-flung alumni talk about living in Paris, L...