Study Abroad

DMG Ireland

David in Ireland.DMG RayBans

David in London.

This post is about our son, David. I have his permission to write it.

(Many of the photos are borrowed from facebook, some without permission.)

Gregg and I always dreamed that our children would go to college. My parents and grandmother collaborated to make this easy for us. It is a family value; education is highly regarded, and there is family folklore to back it up, going back to my great-grandparents’ generation. For example:

My mother’s paternal grandmother graduated from U.C. Berkeley in the class of 1898.

My mother’s paternal grandfather generously paid the tuition for a friend of her father’s at Yale University. All he asked in return was that the young man do the same for someone else…and he did.

My mother’s maternal grandfather was offered the gift of a college education, and turned it down. He regretted this decision for the rest of his life, and this story entered family lore. He always carried a pocket-sized volume of a portion of Shakespeare’s writings with him; his library survives him. His daughter (my grandmother Emilie) went on to receive a master’s degree and a scholarship to study for a year in France…in the 1920s.

So a college education is a big deal in my family, and David and Katie’s college education was assured by their loving relatives, a fact for which Gregg and I are deeply thankful. We dreamed (early on) of a period of study abroad for each of them.  I spent a quarter in England, and Gregg took a “grand tour” after his graduation. It is a family value of ours for broadening horizons, growing in culture, understanding and flexibility.

When David chose Gonzaga University, we knew that his study abroad options were good. We did not know that he would choose to study in Florence, but were happy when he did so. He left in September and has less than 3 weeks remaining in this program.  It has been a joy to hear about it from him each week when we talk though “face time.”

He is taking Italian language classes daily, as well as business classes. He has traveled to London, Ireland, Scotland, the Ligurian Coast, Venice, Switzerland, Austria, Prague, Spain and Germany. He is maintaining good grades, and making wonderful friendships.

David has seen “Skyfall” at midnight in England during its premiere weekend, and heard classical music performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. He has visited the National Gallery as well as pubs, distilleries and breweries. He has been to hear his first opera (Turandot) and taken his first ride in a helicopter – and he has jumped out of that helicopter, with a professional skydiving guide, next to the Eiger, in Switzerland. (This was a shock to us. We are thankful that he survived, and the photographs are stunning.)

DMG Skydive 1

David in the helicopter on the way up. The sun is setting behind the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.

DMG skydive 4

Jumping out of a perfectly good helicopter around 13,000 feet.

DMG skydive 7

Safely on the ground in Grindelwald.

Gregg, David and I had been to this gorgeous area in the summer of 2009. We went hiking in the hills and took the train around the valleys and over the mountain passes. It is a magical place.

We never dreamed that our son would jump out of a helicopter and free fall, then drift down using a parachute, over those same beautiful hills in winter a few years later.

David is living abundantly after the catastrophe of the death of his sister and best friend. He is balancing culture, education and fun in ways that are astounding to us. Gregg and I could not be more grateful or proud of this young man who is our only surviving child – our son, our first born, our joy.

Thanks be to God for our children, here and healthy, as well as those in heaven. Thanks be to God for the survival and flourishing growth of those who are with us. Amen.