Last night, I read an article about Alex Griffith, a young American Boy Scout whose eagle project involved building a playground at the Russian hospital where he was born and then adopted from some sixteen years ago. Alex spent 2 1/2 years and raised $60k for the project. The help of nearly five hundred volunteers from five countries was solicited using a broad, web based campaign according to an article in a National Eagle Scout Association newsletter.
This story hit me as an amazing sign of just how global the economy has become and, in particular, how much more open Russia has become as a nation. When I did my Eagle project twenty eight years ago, it was at the Bath Community Center five miles down the road (how lame is that?). I had a highschool friend from Russia at the time, whose parents had escaped the country with him years earlier. Every time I called, his parents would give me the third degree and they were always paranoid that the KGB could knock on the front door of their American home at any moment. I marveled at his retelling of how they left everything behind in Russia, smuggling only cash by wrapping individual bills in cigarette cartons. In planning for a highschool reunion ten years ago, I called the house once again and his parents still gave me the third degree. “How did I know Eugene?”, they asked, revealing little else. Eugene didn’t attend that reunion, but made it to the one five years later.
It’s also interesting to think about the impact that international adoptions might have on the global economy a generation into the future as these youngsters grow up and seek to reestablish contact with their homelands. As I age, everything seems so much smaller than it once was…the elementary school where I played dodgeball for the first time, the highschool where I met my first date, and now even the college I attended, where I had my first of many beers.
Now, it seems that even the world is becoming that way too.