OLL grad Jordan Pahl stands ready to promote world peace
Jordan Pahl thinks about what she can give, and then she wants to give more, more, more.
The 17-year-old graduate of Lake Oswego's Our Lady of the Lake School has just returned from the Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute in Washington, D.C. and she is ready to put her intelligence, good heart, and ever-smiling face to the service of mankind.
Pahl said, 'We were asked to ask, 'What do they need? What can I give?' We were trained to think about other people's needs. We were taught to really think about how we can resolve conflicts.'
The daughter of Doug and Barbara Pahl of Sellwood, Jordan won her free trip to George Mason University because she is an outstanding student at St. Mary's Academy in Portland. She was chosen as a Cultural Ambassador and was awarded a State Department Fellowship.
She ended up meeting young people who were a lot like her, only they live far, far away - like south and central Asia, including nations that once languished in the old Soviet Union - Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan.
'I had never heard of these countries before,' Pahl admitted. 'But we had a lot more in common than I thought we would. They knew a lot of American music.'
On the other hand, Pahl met a girl from Pakistan who had never seen a washing machine before.
Still, these teenagers were 'all really excited to be here,' and not just about all the sight-seeing trips. They all had a common purpose.
'We focused on how the media and modern technology play a role in world events, especially the Arab Spring,' Pahl said. 'All of us have Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, so we can use the media for change. We learned some really good exercises to help us work out conflicts.'
This conflict could be something relatively simple, like a disagreement between a tenant and a landlord, or a vital treaty over settling water rights.
'It was very well spelled out,' Pahl said. 'It said, 'Here are the steps you take.' I'll be following up with a project in my home community. One boy is very upset about education in Tajikistan, so Carlos and I will be raising awareness and doing fundraising for book drives to send to Tarjikistan.'
Pahl got some great training, but promoting conciliation over conflicts has been high among her priorities for almost all of her young life.
'It's something I try to keep in mind,' she said. 'It's something I've always thought about.'
This immersion in world culture was a remarkable experience for a young woman who has never been outside of the United States. Now she is ready for more of the same, and she plans to visit her new friends next summer.
'Now I would like to study politics and international relations,' Pahl said.
When she does, the people of this world will get along a little better.