Who Shot JR?

Guangzhou, China

Back when I was a university student living in Ireland, I happened to spend a night at a youth hostel where a group of highly spirited Australians treated me to my first ever “American jokes.” The TV show “Dallas” was then something of a world-wide phenomenon, and much of the humour was directed at, shall we say, rather confident Texans. That something called “American jokes” had even existed in the universe was beyond me until that night, but spending some time with my mates from down under helped me see my own country from a slightly different perspective.

I’ve just spent the past ten days in Asia, meeting a great variety of parents and Old Boys, all of whom are passionate about their children, about UCC, and about education. I haven’t been surprised at all by the moms. They are earnest, focused, and concerned; they are interested in their son’s personal development, his academic success, and in his university options. Their husbands share these same interests, of course, but I’ve also come across something that, while I know it exists in North America, seems somewhat closer to the surface in this part of the world.

These dads yearn to connect with their sons. One father told me how the highlight of his upcoming Christmas vacation will be going for a swim with his boy. Another mentioned that he has taken over 30 hours of skating lessons during the past few months — just so he’ll be able to skate with his sons during the winter break. “Someday, perhaps, we will play hockey together.”

I know that North American dads want the same thing, but seeing these men so open and honest and almost vulnerable in their desire to connect or reconnect with their sons — it reminded me of that night 30 years ago, when some fun-loving Australians taught me the simple truth, that in trying to comprehend someone from a different part of the world, we often end up understanding ourselves better, too.

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