The Salzburg Global Seminar encourages each of us to explore and reflect. As I sit in the Schloss’s historic library, with original 18th century stucco work that I can reach out and touch, I am overcome with the magic of this place and the generosity of those individuals who established its current mission.
Traveling to Austria to attend the Salzburg Global Seminar is an incredible gift. We are able to step outside of time and place, and exist briefly within an environment that is breathtakingly beautiful and rich in tradition and history- an environment that facilitates the ability to be open-minded and creative. I simply can’t help feeling in awe of our brilliant faculty, of life on the grounds of a palace, and of the mysterious alps that greet us each morning.
In the morning, afternoon, and evening, I converse with people who are equally interested in being engaged with others and dedicating their time to the common good. I find that it is a joy to talk openly about important issues facing all of us and I do so knowing that the conversation being shared is mindfully reciprocal.
Yesterday was our first full day, yet somehow it feels as though I’ve been here for weeks and that I am living among close family. The discussions and conversations are interesting and other people’s ideas challenge me to reflect and consider my own views about the world.
Today’s afternoon lecture was particularly relevant for me. We were discussing global citizenship and how such a term can be defined, and we were asked to consider what makes one a citizen (being born into a culture or naturalizing into a culture, etc), what prevents one from being a citizen (imprisonment, living in the margins without asylum, being of a certain race or gender, etc), and who decides. We also talked about the commodification of education and what evaluating or discussing education on the basis of financial statements means for the future of our world.
While I have definite views on the subject, it was important to hear the experiences and thoughts of others on this topic, particularly the experiences and ideas that challenged me to reevaluate and adjust my own arguments about equity and access in public education.
Overall, the Salzburg Global Seminar is an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience. I look forward to the rest of this week and to moving forward with projects at home.
~ Mary Okin