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There has always been a buzz surrounding the beginning of the school year.

As a child I remember getting a list of school supplies, heading to the store and picking out an outfit for the first day of school — an important piece of the back-to-school planning for a little girl.   

These are things I still enjoy doing with my own kids.   

The summer I turned 5, our nation turned 200 years old. I clearly remember that my small town painted all the fire hydrants red, white and blue and the route of our annual Fourth of July parade was ablaze with flags and bunting. 

I was too young to know exactly what a bicentennial was, but I did know the United States was having a birthday and we were celebrating it. I’m pretty sure that summer was the year I learned the words to Yankee Doodle Dandy.


This year’s senior class has grown up in a world much different than the one most of us grew up in. From the effects of 9/11 to a global pandemic, the graduating class of college students has experienced significant world events. With the help of a few items culled from Beloit College and Marist College annual mindset lists, here are some key issues that have shaped their world views.

Every four years the National Intelligence Council publishes its Global Trends outlook for the newly elected U.S. government, a document that is available to the public.

A myriad of data, along with interviews with a diversified group of people around the globe, are being analyzed to update the structural factors:

April this time last year marked the pandemic raging on our shores, when we went into full lockdown. Remembering its anniversary, I’m sending this letter back in time to anyone who wishes to read it.

Brace yourself. The whispers of a global pandemic have become sirens. But not the Odyssean kind. 


If you read any news story about “fake news” in the past four years, you then came across the phrase “media literacy” and the calls for it to be included in public education. 

For more than 20 years, I have been teaching media literacy (as an education consultant), but it wasn’t until former President Trump declared the news media as fake that people started paying attention. 

Quarantine-weary amid a pandemic raging outside, millions of Americans curled up in their pajamas last November to watch “The Queen’s Gambit,” a Netflix miniseries that took the airwaves by storm. 

Fiercely feminine in her 1960s style and radically independent, we watched Beth Harmon’s obsessive talent for chess pull her from a Kentucky orphanage to the hushed halls of the greatest tournament of her time, battling drug addiction along the way.


When we decided to move permanently from Switzerland to the U.S. in 1991, I viewed the country as one of the safest places on earth. It produced enough food to feed its population without having to rely on imports and it had a superior military power to dwarf any attacks from adversaries. 

Three decades later my view has been altered, and I’m concerned about three different type of threats, none of which can be countered with conventional defense capabilities. 

In troubled times, when uncertainty reigns supreme, despair or exhaustion sets in, or we simply feel overwhelmed with all the world throws at us, it helps to look for a signal, like the beam from a lighthouse that helps to guide sailors from the dark of night into safe harbor.

It is upon us to open our hearts and minds in order to find that signal. There is no absolute formula of how to find it, or how it finds you.

It can be something simple, like discovering that planting a hope garden has a soothing effect on your mind; re-discovering a passion for reading a good book; reaching out to a friend or stranger and receiving some advice; or something more ambitious, like learning a new skill via an online class; or making some grand plans for when the pandemic is under control. 

I anticipate that historians will divide time as pre-COVID and post-COVID, even if it might not change the Gregorian calendar like B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini).

The world was about to change anyway, but the pandemic will serve as a trigger point to accelerate transformations and alter how we think and act from this point forward. Here is my prediction on how 10 big concepts will alter everything: