Santa Claus with a Brooklyn accent
Apart from the protests on the main square, something very important happened on Monday. John Sexton visited our school for a special WICK.
This extraordinarily likeable bearded man was introduced to us by our alumnus Peter Hadváb. Once John got a hold of the microphone, it was quickly clear that this won’t be a regular WICK. He spoke in a smooth, deep voice, paced around and kept looking into our eyes. Right at the beginning he warned us, that if we don’t pay attention, he will notice and ask us a question. But this warning wasn’t at all necessary, we hung on his every word. He started talking about Charlie, a person which influenced his whole life and the way he led NYU. Charlie was his high school teacher, who bore peculiar resemblance to the old man depicted on KFC buckets of chicken wings. John and a couple of his classmates had a class very accurately named „Charlie”. During this class Charlie showed them how to live properly. No one ever knew, what Charlie was going to do that day, but it was always something amazing and meaningful. On the very first class, he told them: „Boys! On the first date….find out her IQ. Because beauty fades but the need for conversation never will.”
John told us that once we find the right person, we need to squeeze the most out of every moment we get with them. In fact, we should squeeze the most out of every moment of our lives. It comes from John’s motto, which he got from Charlie – “Play another octave of the piano.” If there’s anything you haven’t done before, do it. If there’s anything you haven’t tried yet, do it, as soon as possible. Every day is a gift and every moment should be enjoyed fully. The best way to make this happen is to be open to new things- new perspectives, new people, new experiences. Don’t always look out of the same window, you will see the most when you change your point of view. The windows of other people, interests, experiences and challenges will help you see the world in all of it’s beautiful complexity. That is what a good school should be about too. It shouldn’t pretend that there is only one window to look at the world from. It should offer us as many of those windows as possible.
During the whole lecture (well, more of a dialogue), John asked us questions. When he wanted to get closer to us, he kneeled down to the freshmen sitting on the floor. When he asked one girl a question and she was too nervous to answer, he hugged her. At the end, he recieved the biggest applause any WICK has ever gotten.
After this great experience, some of us got to have lunch with him in the History room. Right at the beginning, we gave him a beautiful cheesecake and told him about our school café project. During introductions he asked every one of the thirty people in the room, what is their true passion.
It turns out, and he appreciated it with his comments, that our school is full of a great variety of people with very different passions, offering us various windows to look at the world from. The initial discussion about school and education soon turned into a discussion on the meaning of life. Because that is the most important thing a school can do. To teach us how to live life well and fully. In order to do that, we need to look out from many windows, and our teachers and classmates offer us plenty of them. John is trying to connect the world through people from different backgrounds at NYU, so that students can see its complexity. It is very obvious that he enjoys every moment of his life and isn’t afraid to try new things. But apparently, it has its limits. John says that we should discover all possible new horizons, as long as two conditions are met: it has to be moral and legal. At this point someone asked if morality, and specifically the Religion and Ethics class at our school aren’t an obstacle in our quest for new experiences. John sees our school as a school which offers Christianity and its values, but doesn’t force them onto people, which he greatly appreciates. Another person asked about his wife, who died several years ago, and how is this event connected to the meaning of life. Even though this was without a doubt very personal, he shared it with us. He tries to live his life so that he represents his wife in this world. She was an amazing person and he lives the way she would have lived. While she lived, he tried to spend every minute with her, and he still lives for her.
The whole discussion was very friendly and John emitted positive energy and interesting opinions. At the end, he told us a fun fact- Australia has the most wild camels in the world. He thought we should be able to take away at least one fact, not just abstract thought. But we took something way more valuable with us- the desire to discover new horizons.
Written by Maruš Žilinčíková & Katka Barteková
Photos by Blanka Antalová