November 14, 2016: Big Buildings and Bigger Ideas in Bahrain

What is the purpose of education?  Is it solely for the individual’s benefit – so that he or she can get a good job and have a successful career?  Or is it to produce a socially conscious citizen, someone who is curious and compassionate about the world and the people in it?

The truth is probably some ineffable combination, and it’s just that mix being explored by INJAZ Bahrain and The Bahrain Bayan School, two educational organizations that hosted our delegation in roundtable talks today.  These are dedicated educators trying to suss out just what it means to educate in the 21st century – in the era of Trump.

Now there’s a name that is looming over almost every conversation we have here, just days after his upset electoral win – over the future, the relationship of our two nations, and what it means to be a global, informed, humane person in this century.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the future, except that it is frought and most people are worried.

It makes our work – the work of turning out young people who see that values are more than just dollars and cents – all the more important.

And yet, despite all of the challenges, I’m struck by the overwhelming optimism of everyone we meet, a quality in short supply in the US, whether you angrily voted for Trump or angrily voted against him.

That optimism finds maybe no more direct respresentation than in the many striking buildings that compose Bahrain’s capital of Manama, reaching for the sky as a supermoon dances in the calm waters of the Persian Gulf…