Strategic Goal #1 of the Albemarle County Public Schools is to "prepare all students to succeed as members of a global community and in a global economy." Do you want to know who will be prepared to succeed in the global community and economy? Elliott will. He's a three-year-old we met on our Halong Bay tour. His grandfather, Roland, was one of the 1975 Vietnamese boat people; he's a doctor in France but returns to Vietnam each year to, as he put it, practice his English (and his Vietnamese). With Roland on the Halong Bay tour were his wife (who is French), one of his two daughters, and her son, Elliott. Elliott, like most three-year-olds I know, goes to preschool. The difference is that Elliott goes to a French-language preschool in the morning and an English-language preschool in the afternoon. He's also learning Vietnamese from his grandfather and Spanish. I'm not sure where he's getting the Spanish from, though it might be from his father since Roland said that Elliott was born in Barcelona. In other words, by the time the students in Albemarle County Public Schools start studying a foreign language, Elliott could be fluent in four languages and learning others in school.
There is another reason why I think Elliott or someone like him will be successful while the able students in Albemarle County may not be is that he will likely grow up with a global perspective, knowing that the way he lives is not the only way a person can live and that the things in which he believes are not the only things worth believing in. The other UVa professor teaching in Hue was talking about people's names with the students in his class and mentioned that his son, Joseph, had a "Biblical name." He was surprised at the blank looks on their faces. He explained that the word "Biblical" was an adjective form of "Bible." They still had blank looks on their faces, because none of them had heard of the Bible. [Please do not leave comments that these people are therefore condemned to fire and brimstone because of their ignorance regarding Christianity. I really don't need my blood pressure raised so early in the day.] Somehow, I expect that Elliott will get to young adulthood and recognize that besides speaking differently, people live differently, work differently, and believe differently. Without that foundation, I'm not sure one can "succeed as a member of a global community and in a global economy," and I just don't see our local schools giving kids that foundation. Yes, there are some kids that do "get it," but more don't, and that will hurt their chances as all our lives become more global in nature.