Former US Diplomat Haywood Rankin and his German wife Sabine Schmid-Rankin have been well-known guests at our school. For about 15 years, they have come to the JHG to speak to students from year 11. Mrs. Rankin is a German teacher who all of us know from the email exchange with year 10 students at the JHG.
This year Haywood Rankin gave a lecture about the situation in the Middle East, North Korea and US politics. Since he had done his diplomatic service in countries like Syria, Iraq and Algeria, he was able to explain a lot about the situation in the Middle East. He clarified the roles of the different countries involved in the war in Syria. He also analyzed Trump’s tactics in the conflict with Iran and North Korea.
Beside that, the diplomat explained the voting system focusing on the outcome of the presidential elections in 2016. In his opinion, the fact that a lot of young people didn’t use their right to vote was one reason why Trump became president. With reference to the presidential elections 2020 he analyzed the chances of the Democratic candidates like Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, but didn’t seem to be too optimistic about their success.
Another topic was gun control in the USA. Whilst in Germany there are about three million guns, which you first think are a lot, there are about 300 million in the USA! Sabine Rankin remarked that she has a lot of students who own guns, even try to bring them to school or keep them in their cars. She vehemently opposes the idea that teachers should be trained to use guns.
What surprised us was that Greta Thunberg and the “Fridays for Future” movement is not well-known in the USA. However, he and his wife discussed the climate change and - together with the students - collected ideas about what every individual can do about it.
Eventually we were allowed to ask some more questions. One of them was how you can become a diplomat. Whereas in Germany you are supposed to have a university degree, you only have to pass a really difficult test before you can start your training.
In the end Mr. and Mrs. Ranking got a packet of our special school coffee. They promised to remember the JHG whenever they have a cup. We hope that they will be able to come back to the JHG for many more years.
StDin M. Stief