WARNING: Proceed with caution. Extreme idealism ahead. Author may be delusional. Diagnosis pending.
My roots run deep in a town of 4,000 souls in northeast Texas, USA. My paternal grandfather was born there in 1898. I was hatched on the same farm in 1961, 62 years ago.
In 2016 I moved to Beijing, China, population 21 million.
This summer, after seven years in China, my wife and I will go ‘home.’
This is my story about hope, rebirth, renewal, and a plan to continue living out my meaning in a challenging world.
(Enter idealism.) In late high school I started writing a weekly newspaper column titled, “Untapped Resources.” They were rally the troops, youth writing to youth, over-the-top kind of essays. My premise was the youth of America are its greatest ‘untapped resource’ and we needed to help each other realize our fullest potential, individually and collectively. Each article ended with [Our motto: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson] See? Idealism in the extreme.
Immediately after high school graduation in May 1980, I moved to Washington, DC, not for college but for a dream. I went to DC without a job but with extraordinary luck (and probably divine intervention) by July 4th I was watching fireworks from the South Lawn of the White House as staff assistant in President Jimmy Carter’s White House/Congressional Liaison office.
Because Carter was not re-elected that November, on January 20, 1981, he and I were both out of work. He ‘retired’ to Plains, Georgia. I returned to Texas and got an oilfield job that tripled my income.
Since age 18, I have lived in more than a dozen cities and three countries but only returned ‘home’ as a visitor.
I have married, had three sons, and earned degrees in History/Political Science, Public Administration, Theology, and Education. I have had ‘mini careers’ in business, NGOs, construction, a decade as missionary in Romania (age 37-47) and worked for the university where I pursued my EdD.
My doctoral research was grounded in constructive developmental psychology and transformative learning theory. Using these, I explored perspective transformation in U.S. university students studying abroad after experiences of “disorienting dilemmas.”
I came to Beijing in 2016 to work with Chinese students preparing for English language universities abroad. I first taught research skills to 12th graders and helped with college counseling. Now I am head of an international school.
Since 2016, from halfway around the world, I feel I have helplessly watched my birth country become malignant with division, polarization, and denigration of ‘otherness’, sometimes bordering on dehumanization.
This summer, after 43 years, I will return to my hometown, again moving without a job but with a dream. I call this dream “Eudaimonia Initiatives.” I will begin with extensive qualitative research using SWOT-based interviews to gain insights from across the community. Based on the findings, I hope to catalyze initiatives with my neighbors so we can more intentionally “bloom where we are planted” and celebrate that real life is lived locally in real time with real people, even with those who are “different.”
This Eudaimonia Initiatives vision issues from my own perspective transformation. Rather than trying to move the whole world with a lever, a fulcrum but no place to stand I will return to my roots.
My goal is to re-establish ‘standing’ in my community and from that foothold work to move my smaller world. However, by doing it with the community, for the community, and with the resources of the community it can serve as a replicable model for anyone anywhere anytime.
Eudaimonia: human flourishing.
Eudaimonia Initiatives; more than a meaningful dream; hope for a challenging world.