Monday, June 18, 2007

This Jessica is Something Else

Okay I’m impressed. In fact I don’t think I have ever been more impressed. I sat next to Jessica T. today on a flight from Atlanta to Wichita KS. There is no telling what this brilliant, passionate 21 year old will accomplish in this life.

When Jessica sat next to me this morning we exchanged normal pleasantries. Jessica began reading a book and I quickly fell asleep. After a few minutes I was awakened by the flight attendant because my #14’s were blocking the aisle. A short time passed and Jessica closed the book she was reading, looked at me and told me her heart was pounding because of what she was reading. She had my undivided attention as she began to explain the true story of Greg Mortenson from his book, “Three Cups of Tea.” I will most definitely be reading that book.

I learned that Jessica, a native of Wichita, recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from the City College of New York with a B.A. in International Studies. She also received a Fulbright Scholarship to study Arabic and learn about the deaf community in Yemen. Yemen, by the way, is in the Middle East just south of Saudi Arabia. She spent six months there last year teaching English. In the Bronx, she taught Arabic to second graders at a Kingsbridge Heights Community Center. Jessica started learning Arabic her freshman year at CCNY. She will visit her family for a couple of months in the Wichita area and will leave for Yemen in August. She looks forward to continuing her study of Arabic and the Yemeni Sign Language while working with the deaf. During her college career she also studied in Brazil and taught English in El Savador. Jessica wrote her senior thesis on the possibility of a global sign language.

I also discovered that Jessica was a member of the women’s soccer team and was named All City Player in 2005. Are you beginning to see why I was impressed?

I have no idea what Jessica will end up doing with her life but it will no doubt be something past incredible. I could not help but wonder if I was sitting next to a future Secretary of State of our country. Or even a future United States President.

Everybody has a story. I heard Jessica’s story today and she heard mine. I took her picture after we came off the plane today and before we went our separate ways. I actually felt a tinge of sadness because I knew the chances are really good that I will never see this incredible young lady again. But Jess will be writing a blog when she gets back to Yemen ( And you can bet your bottom dollar I will keep up with her. I also have Jessica’s email address and she has mine. I promised her I would send her a copy of my book as soon as I get back to my office. And I have a feeling she might enjoy it.

Jessica is smart enough to be a Magna Cum Laude graduate and to be fluent in Arabic and the Yemeni Sign language at the ripe old age of 21. I also got the strong feeling that she is grounded enough to appreciate the simple truths of life even from the perspective of a country undertaker.

I sure am glad I sat in Row 6 on Delta Flight 4215 to Wichita today. One of these days I will be reading about this Jessica and I will be able to tell someone I met her one time.

Like I said, I was more than impressed today. This Jessica is something else.


Anonymous said...

Goodness Gracious. What an individual! I can't believe she's already accomplished all of that at the age of 21!


Nana said...

She is an amazing girl, and much loved by her entire family! She has delighted us all for 21 years!
Thank you for recognizing the depth of her character in a brief encounter. Her grandfather and I agree that she will make a huge impact on her world!

Anonymous said...

A typical girl for the great state of Kansas. Its a shame she didn't attend KU.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing young lady! How do you find these people???

Joy said...

I have not met Jessica, but if she is any bit like her nana, my dear friend Carolyn, she is a winner!
PCB, Fl.

Anonymous said...

Jessica is just one in a long line of wonderful people who originated from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. I am proud to be a third cousin!!!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful young lady. You meet the neatest people.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I've led a sheltered life but I have never heard of a 21 year old American girl teaching Arabic. And the sign language thing! Are you really serious?

Anonymous said...

She has my vote!

Mark said...

It's rare to find someone who can accomplish so much and still be such a caring friend and family member. Everyone who knows here is pround of her. She's a truly amazing person.

Karin said...

I must say for all who doubt: she IS real. You don't need to believe me. Go to: open the "on being", and check it out for Jessi's video. Listen her 2 minutes video, and you will see for yourself.