Get on your bike – or at least buy a plane ticket!
“Why bother? There’s no work out there anyway.” It is an excuse I have heard many times in the last few years, mainly from young people who think that life is about getting a job which they can walk to from their parents’ house which will then, after a few years of careful saving, allow them to buy the house next door to their parents. “Hello!! Where is your spirit of adventure?”
Fortunately, it is not my only experience of young people. After 4 years of teaching German at CIOMIJAS it has been my privilege to work with some 350 students who have realised that the world has changed in the last few years and that the expectations of some of their peers are no longer realistic nor do they apply to today´s world of work.
I have found it distressing to hear Spanish politicians lamenting the fact that young people are leaving Spain to find work abroad. Of course, no country wishes to see its brightest and best abandon ship, but “Hello!! Where is your vision for the future?”
In the 1960’s necessity drove my Spanish father-in-law to Germany, because that was where the work was, and then, within 10 years, to Australia with his entire family. The experiences which accompanied these moves continue to be a major factor in the working lives of his family as well as a source of personal enrichment. In my opinion, Spain has a long way to go to arrive at a way of global thinking. Why? Because too few of the policy makers have lived abroad or have learned a foreign language thereby expanding the scope of their thinking processes and exposure to other cultural attitudes, and to alternative ways of doing things.
Sure, young people go away, but they also come back as more developed and rounded individuals, with new ideas and the ability to introduce new ways of thinking and working.
‘Life is too short to learn German’, or so the sign in a Fuengirola Restaurant read. Life is too short to do anything to perfection. But, does that mean we should not be in a constant state of self improvement and should not open ourselves to the possibility of change and new experiences? My students may not all recognise the value of everything they are learning right now, but it is like money in the bank: at some point in the future it will come in useful. We have an infinite capacity to learn, and then to apply that learning when the moment demands it.
I have found it encouraging seeing how many of my students have embraced the notion of doing their work placements abroad. I firmly believe that these are the people who will help make a difference and help to reform traditional thinking and work practices in the future.