Oh, I have so much to tell you about. I could write pages and pages about my recent trip to Brazil (how cool to see a side of my dad I’d never seen before, the Portuguese learner with a doting Brazilian family [more about that on my parents' blog]! how odd to code-switch between Portuguese and Chinese, since I studied Portuguese for a short period shortly before moving to China and they got a bit mixed up in my brain! how serendipitous to meet a new cousin, one that has published a quirky historical collection of untold stories of American presidents! how relaxing to sit on the beach sipping from a coconut, gazing out at the ocean…!)
But what’s compelling me to write here today is a smart post by Abby Kerr. I’ve mentioned her in this space before. She just posted the first installment of a series on how to write your smart, empathetic website, which starts with this evocative description:
Let’s set the scene:
I live near the campus of an ivy-covered, red brick college. A campus with a creek running through it. Although this particular highly-ranked liberal arts college isn’t known for wildly raucous college house parties, living just off-campus often brings to mind my own college days. We all can conjure up the image in our mind of just that kind of wildly raucous college house party. (I should know. I graduated from a large, state university known for such things, besides being known for its stellar academic programs – ahem.)
In case you’ve never had the experience of attending a wildly raucous college house party, allow me to paint the picture: sensory overload. Loud music. Damp, humid air with suddenly drafty corners where someone has broken out a window. Bad lighting. Sticky floors and kitchen countertops. Upholstered furniture nobody (sober) really wants to sit on.
But the post isn’t really about college parties. It’s about what spaces compel us to do, especially digital spaces.
I immediately wrote this comment on her site:
Clearly my brand is a frat house! The call to action is an invitation to challenge me to beer pong and then make out on the damp-ish couch!
Dude… that. would. be. awesome.
All joking aside, this post is brilliant. If I think about my brand as a physical place, it has two rooms. They are connected.
One is a living room decorated with colorful memorabilia from around the world: photos of Patagonia, pillows made of batik from Thailand, photo albums on the table, an open invitation for friends to come and visit and chat about their adventures and goals and dreams. This is all about international careers, how to live and work abroad, especially while balancing your ambition and your wanderlust.
The other is a classroom. It has a big table surrounded by chairs (students and teachers sit at the same level) and lots of colorful materials to build things with. The white board is full of scribbles and pictures and arrows connecting words in multiple languages. This is all about innovation and education, specifically creating a bridge between big ideas (that might have originated in this classroom, or perhaps on the other side of the world) and the local culture. The dialogue is open and far-reaching. Everyone is encouraged to use visual communication, to communicate these big ideas in a concrete way.
I’m curious to see where other people take this analogy.
And that, my friends, is what I want to do with this site.
I’m in the process of completely revamping it to be more than a blog, a side-by-side living room and classroom, a place to create opportunities on a global stage.
In the meantime, what would you like to chat about in the living room and what will you sketch pictures of in the classroom?