One of the Hancock family traditions is to attend the Olympics every two years. So, faithful to that tradition, we were in London earlier this week. Our family has expanded since the first trip to Barcelona in 1992, but one thing has been constant when traveling around the world for these ten events over twenty years: our sense of pride and patriotism as Americans and a sense of wonder about this fascinating world in which we live.
I have been asked often about our best memories or favorite Olympics. Another question has to do with whether or not it is worth it, and can you see a great deal when you go. My response is always the same. If you want to “see” the Olympics, stay home, as the network coverage will ensure that you don’t miss a thing. But if you want to “experience” the Olympics, there is no substitute for being there, even if you are in the last row of the stadium (which has happened to us). What’s more, you have an amazing opportunity to not only celebrate being an American but also to meet individuals from around the globe who have come together for the same purpose. And on any given Thanksgiving dinner or other family reunion, we will play the “remember when” game and the memories come fast and furious. Interestingly enough, those recollections very seldom focus on seeing Lewis, Hughes, Phelps, or Ohno. Rather, they have to do with an experience while traveling or an impression of a country or custom.
Did such experiences have a lasting effect on our children? They certainly returned with a better sense of the world and global issues than what they could glean from a television broadcast, and all five of our children later studied abroad and made subsequent international trips on their own.
So that’s why we go to the Olympics, and why we will continue the tradition as long as Hancock family members continue to get the biennial urge to explore.
At Methodist University, we are attempting to give our students the equivalent of an “Olympic moment.” The recently established Center for Global Education is designed to provide students with the opportunity to experience their own “aha moments” as they study abroad, meet people, and create impressions of countries and their customs. Such experiences will enrich their lives and better prepare them for their chosen careers – all which will be affected by global issues. I have yet to talk with a student returning from a study abroad experience who wasn’t profoundly influenced by what she or he witnessed or learned during the time spent beyond our borders.
So that’s why we encourage our students to study abroad, or to meet the more than 100 international students on our campus. We literally have our own “Olympic Village” at Methodist, making it possible for all of our students to have similar experiences and cultural exchanges much closer to home. When we have a formal celebration on campus like Commencement, and all the international flags are on display, we have our own version of the Opening and Closing ceremonies and feel a great deal of pride in our university environment and in all that we offer our students.
We will continue these traditions, along with creating new international experiences and memories for members of the Methodist University family. So later in their lives and during campus reunions with classmates and faculty, they can play the “remember when” game.
Marathon Training Update
Today the distance for my “long run” is up to 8 miles. Wish me luck! Only 9 weeks to race day. However, I assure you October 7 will NOT be one of those Olympic moments!