[In 2014, my about page read as follows.]
Hello, my name is Sebastian Garren. At the beginning of March I was awarded a Fulbright Grant to do research in Finland. My project is to complete a Masters Degree in Education at the University of Turku. The official line of my research prospectus asks: what do administrators, teachers, and students tell each other about their goals and rationales, what goals and rationales require no justification and are simply understood through social cues, and how does this differ from American educational discourse?
A little about my intellectual history. I graduated high school with strong literary leanings. My high school English teacher cracked opened the world of ideas for me through literature. I attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana with the intention of becoming an English major. In the end, I became a Latin major – writing my senior thesis on the poetry of Horace – and a philosophy minor. I molded an area of concentration in Medieval Studies, studied some ancient Greek, and took other worthwhile classes outside of these fields. I studied ancient art and archaeology in Rome for one whole semester in my junior year. That fantastic experience left on me an indelible mark, something akin to a renewed awareness of the world, a re-enchantment.
How did this lead to Finland, education, and beyond? I suspect to an outside observer there is an incongruity. Where, you might ask, is the intersection of English literature, classical civilization, philosophy, education, empirical research, and ourselves (readers and learners)? I think these all do have some thing in common: they are important. They tell us where we are going, where we have been, and what we could do next. These disparate fields provide unique ways to approach the world. Finland, I believe, can do the same.
So I was ready for the above research and academic practice when my boat capsized, so to speak. The University of Turku did not accept me into the program and the Finland Fulbright people threw me overboard. The American Fulbright people think I’m still on the boat, despite my protests. Illigimiti non carborundum.
So what does one do, when one adventure turns into another? I woke one day with a ticket to Finland and few prospects. A friend reminded me of an important lesson, “In chess, the failure of one plan is a dangerous moment, because the player feels like momentum has shifted, and he may lose morale or become rash, even if he is actually still ahead and well-positioned. Your path may have been turned, but has not led over a cliff.”
The narrative of a life is not always what we expect and every twist must be incorporated gracefully. Now I will venture to Finland to practice the language and write as I will.