In Dornach last February, we met Jen Skolar. She was one of the amazing young people who had been a part of YIP and joined us for our gathering. At a moment when the group decided to cook all of our own meals so we could all eat together, Jen and her friends volunteered to drive to Germany where groceries are more affordable and return with a carload of food that would feed as many people as we could fit in the Begegnungszentrum kitchen. As we cooked and ate together, we did so with gratitude for the efforts of these young women.
As our return trip to Dornach approached, Jen was one of the dear friends we hoped to see, so we were delighted to receive a message from her upon our arrival that she would be arriving from Freiburg in the morning. So our first full day in Dornach started with coffee with Jen (after soaking in as much sleep as we possibly could!).
Jen grew up attending a Waldorf school in Germany and also spent time studying abroad at a large public high school in Virginia. Just this spring, she was able to journey back to the Southeastern United States, where Elizabeth was able to catch up with her in Atlanta. During that visit, Jen described how in her studies of anthroposophy, she has found it easier to understand in English than in German. Could this have to do with Steiner’s suggestion that English is the language of the Consciousness Soul?
She spent a year in the Youth Initiative Program in Sweden, where she formed close bonds with friends from around the world. In September shortly before meeting up with us, Jen spent a week journeying with old and new friends as part of Classroom Alive. It was serious walking, she described, as they went uphill and downhill throughout the days.
Jen is currently attending university in Freiburg, pursuing a four-year bachelor’s degree in governance. Her work has a cultural and historical focus in an interdisciplinary program. She is also interested in a path of midwifery and carries a strong maternal gesture herself. Truly, Jen radiates love for people. She is a caring friend with a spontaneous spirit. She is most inspired by meeting people, by getting to know them. In the social sphere, we must learn to see every person as a person. Can we find our common humanity?
In Järna, Jen had the opportunity to participate in a variety of youth conferences. The people there were shining and confident, giving her great hope for the future. Generally Jen is quite optimistic. This is easy to see, as she is a sunny presence wherever she goes! Still, her concerns for the world are great. She is troubled by war and by the lack of awareness that many still have about the environment. Things won’t just change by themselves. Perhaps a big bang will come and change everything, she said, but let’s not let things come to that. Can we take steps together now to change the world for the better? An example of a strong initiative Jen recognizes is the BERAS International in Järna (Baltic Ecological Recycling Agriculture and Society). This network is a partnership of organizations from eleven nations, striving to contribute to a necessary systemic shift in food systems.
Jen’s hope is for more and more young people to experience a conscious decision of what to do after high school. A young person should choose his or her own future. People must use their freedom and not blindly follow their parents. She believes that a constructive path would be for young people to have an experience of real work, physical labor, not just intellectual training. Practical skills need to be incorporated much more into education. So much is gained when a young person needs to find and keep a job. With the way our society is structured today, many children don’t actually see their parents working. Labor is a gift.
Jen does not believe that high school graduates should automatically head straight for college. In fact, she contends that college is not for everyone. There are many different ways to learn. Unfortunately, much of our culture does not recognize these differences.
We know that we will continue to cross paths with Jen and look forward to seeing what her studies birth forth for herself and her community! So glad we are to have her friendship!