Can you say doorknob?

“Here’s a one-word language test to measure whether someone really knows a foreign country and culture: What’s the word for doorknob? People who have studied a language in a classroom rarely know the answer. But those who have been embedded in a country know. America would be a wiser country if we had more people who knew how to translate “doorknob.” I would bet that those people who know how to say doorknob in Farsi almost invariably oppose a military strike on Iran.”

Reported by Nicholas D. Kristof in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times (March 10, 2010). He then went on to mention my alma mater, Goucher College, which was the first American college or university to make study abroad mandatory for all students.

“American universities are belatedly recognizing how provincial they are and are trying to get more students abroad. Goucher College in Baltimore requires foreign study, and Princeton University has begun a program to help incoming students go abroad for a gap year before college.”

You can read the full article here.

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