When School Goes Against Your Very Nature.

Via Katarina Silva
on Feb 25, 2012
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I was born severely allergic to school.

Not to learning, but to school.

There is just no other way to put it. Sitting in those little chairs when my whole being wanted to move, sharing the teacher with so many other children, being told to color inside the lines when I was wired to think outside the box: all of this and much more, just seemed to stifle my indomitably wild and creative nature.

School seemed to be a place that had obviously omitted my kind from its design considerations.

“Why aren’t more of the children resisting this?”, I thought. “Am I the only one who doesn’t feel entirely welcomed here?”

Some of my earliest memories are of my three-year-old-self screaming and kicking, and reaching out to my mother with tears in my eyes, as she handed me over to my kindergarten teacher every morning.

Stuck in a room filled with other children my age and only one adult to tend to us felt so unnatural to me. I wanted my mother’s undivided attention back. I missed her. School seemed to be telling me that heartbreak was acceptable, even necessary.

Then there was the trust issue. School taught me that people don’t always trust you. The older boys had stolen my homework, but even after I had explained that to my teacher she still made me stand in a corner.

There were rules, she said: “No homework, no playtime.” This happened to me repeatedly in kindergarten. I have memories of standing in that corner, peeking over my shoulder as I watched my classmates frolic in their tailored, little catholic school uniforms, wondering why my teacher didn’t believe me. Mother always believed me, even when I saw fairies in the flowers outside my bedroom window. My voice had lost its power.

At school I had somehow become less believable, less trustworthy, and definitely less important. I even felt somewhat disposable alongside the rigid rules that were to be upheld at any cost, even if it meant losing me. What were these rules anyway? Allegedly made for the benefit of the group, they seemed to sacrifice the individual. Some of them felt downright dehumanizing to me. Who invented these rules, I wondered. I wanted no part of it.

So, in elementary school, I was the girl who danced on the tables when the teacher went out of the room and enticed the other children into wild, imaginative games.

When I turned six my parents sympathized with my plight and enrolled me in a very liberal, private school. But school was school, and even there my “allergic condition” acted up, which translated into my spending most of my math classes hiding under playground equipment the teachers could not fit into.

“Come on out or you won’t get to have recess!” they threatened. But I was already having a great time in the playground! I’d have to be a fool to come out, I thought. Was school trying to turn me into a fool?

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.”

~Leo Buscaglia

At the age of eight I equated obedience with those of impressionable, simple, easily manipulated minds. And I certainly didn’t want to think of myself as having one of those! Naturally, I became one of the school’s main mischief-makers and was often kept afterschool, cleaning classrooms as punishment. The school’s principal and I were on a first name basis. She liked me because I was smart, she said. But apparently not in any of the ways the school rules needed me to be.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

~ Albert Einstein

As a child I noticed that there seemed to be “right” and “wrong” ways to learn. Most of institutionalized education’s “right” ways of learning seemed to clash with my free spirit; with my natural learning pace and inextinguishable curiosity. It clashed with my need for movement, and the outdoors, and stimulation that affected me on all levels.

In public high school I hated the impersonal bureaucracy. The red tape that said I could not continue my foreign language classes and take psychology at the same time, because I had already used up my two electives.

“You can give up art”, the guidance counselor announced with apathetic nonchalance. Give up art? The only class I actually enjoy? Never.

So I reluctantly dropped French in my fourth year, because of the required computer technology course. No one seemed to care that I had already mastered use of my father’s Mac.

“It’s not what you know”, the guidance counselor told me, “It’s your participation in the required courses that counts.”

So they chucked my life experience, and I ditched their computer class, and they told me I would not be able to graduate without it. Negotiations? Well, this is an American public school we are talking about, so… no.

There is no negotiation. Ever. You follow their rules, or you fail. Period.

Technically, I was missing a few credits here and there of their “required” subjects. Never mind that I had an excess of credits in other areas. Never mind that I aced all my college credit dual-enrollment classes. I refused to waste my time sitting in a classroom, under the aura-disrupting buzz of florescent lights, learning a bunch of fluff I already knew, just to appease their senseless system. Yes, I knew the “consequences”, and felt I could live with them, so I dropped out of high school, and my little sister followed.

But it wasn’t really defiance and frustration that made us drop out of school. It was depression.

We would come home from school feeling as if the wind had been blown out of our sails. And yet, as Leonardo da Vinci once observed:

“Real learning never exhausts the mind.”

Yes, we were as miserable in school as birds in cages. We resisted it from the start. Our mother had to bribe us with toys and books to go. Lulu and I felt trapped there. We longed to be free, and school seemed to try to squish us into little boxes we didn’t fit into, and then make us feel defective when we didn’t. So, when we dropped out of high school, it felt more like a means of self-preservation.

Yes! Freedom!

Being on the outside felt liberating; like we could breathe again; like we could be ourselves; ike learning and pleasure could finally become friends again!

Because, you see, my sister and I actually loved learning. Ironically, we considered ourselves good students. And now we were free to really learn!

The least of the work of learning is done in the classroom.

~Thomas Merton

To the school board however, Lulu and I became part of the faceless, poor-learning 1.3 million students who drop out of school every year in the United States.

We were a statistic that represented failure. But the failure, as we experienced it, was not our failure to conform to the system, but the system’s failure to recognize, honor and accommodate our style of learning. Which —judging by statistics— doesn’t seem to be that uncommon after all.

After we emancipated ourselves from the stifling high school environment, Lulu and I turned our everyday living into learning. And we surrounded ourselves with everything school had deprived us of. Ah! The relief of not submitting to the system’s assessment of what we “required” to be educated. Instead…

We decided on our own —totally independently of any superimposed authority— what we wanted to learn, how we wanted to learn it, the pace and depth at which we would do it, and the means through which we would learn it.

It was empowering!

Why give all that over to someone else?

Nothing could have been sweeter. We had gone from starving in the militaristic, monotonous desert of school, to the exciting and nourishing lifestyle of two thriving autodidacts. (From the Greek words auto, or self and didaktikos, or teaching/taught.)

Lulu spent endless hours on the piano, practicing her violin and learning Russian, while I devoured Karl Marx and Eric Fromm, and covered my parent’s large living room floor with materials for my art collages. I painted, she collected vintage fashions, and together we harmonized melodies on our father’s Spanish guitar.

We hung out in university libraries, took ghost tours of local historical districts and met other radicals every Sunday morning for peace marches at the bay. We protested outside laboratories that tested on animals, and in front of fancy restaurants that served veal, with our shocking homemade signs that slowed traffic.

Driven by our own interests and curiosity, my little sister and I turned anything we wanted to into an educational experience. I designed my own line of clothing; my sister modeled.

We had our hearts set on Paris so we practiced our French at fancy pastry shops, to the meter in Baudelaire’s love poems.

We packed up our mother’s Volvo station wagon and drove it up California’s mountains; dipped in desert hot springs and visited organic date farms where residents lived in teepees. We danced under the full moon at reggae festivals, hit the art museums in Manhattan and even watched Mikhail Baryshnikov dance like there was no tomorrow.

We’d have to be crazy to turn all that in for school!

What was school anyway?

As Paulo Freire so aptly put it, education as we knew it,

“transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads men and women to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power”.

Lulu and I wanted to improve the world, not to “adjust” to it! We desired to transform it, not yield to it.

So we turned Freire’s Pedagogy of The Oppressed into our own, proud, little anthem. And were ever grateful that we had extremely liberal parents that let us do so. Yes, my sister and I were thankful we hadn’t been given the type of parents that were persuaded by the political conspiracy between the pharmaceutical monopolies and the government to push Ritalin on nonconforming students. Yikes! Now that’s scary!

Surely it’s less dangerous to drug our future generations than allow their creativity to naturally run amuck. Stagnant order is preferable in the public school system to dynamic progress, if this is outside their control. Students only have three options in this paradigm: surrender, rock the boat or jump ship. So my little sister and I jumped. And we’ve not once regretted our decision.

Lulu and I were dreamy, idealistic, artistic youth determined to disregard the status quo and create an alternative way of being.

But what if no one hires you because you lack a college education?

Heck! Does a diploma guarantee you’ll get a job? Plus, we didn’t want to be a part of “the system” of jobs and bosses anyway.

My sister and I favored bartering and generating income in creative ways that inspired real connections between real people. Ways that invented and explored alternatives to the nine-to-fivers and had nothing to do with exploiting others or our planet.

Lulu and I refused to participate in a system that reduced us to numbers, to robots, to factory-working machines without feelings or independent thoughts.

Being a deviant felt so damn good! Yes, we were high school dropouts and proud of it, despite the negative stigma surrounding that label; because we redefined it.

Contrary to the ugly pictures society paints of us, there is no generic portrait of a high school dropout. We are all as unique as the lines on our palms.

At seventeen my sister made it to Paris, backpacked through Europe, went paragliding in the French Riviera, and won all night salsa contests to live music. I, on the other hand, did India and yoga, learned to weave with tribal women in Chaing Mai and philosophized with western Tibbetan Buddhist nuns in Kathmandu.

Instead of school, we opted for attending only lectures of our choice, and book signings where we could chat with the authors. Fun!

(Photo: “Paris Bench” by Yanidel)

But, the sweetest times of all, in our varied adventures in learning, were the meetings of the mind and heart, that occurred most spontaneously on park benches with strangers.

There you discover that the homeless man you just bought an organic fruit smoothie for, had just taught us more about life in a single conversation than any public school teacher would ever be allowed to teach us  in a whole year of schooling.

He taught us about death, and politics, and power by narrating his runs through the jungles of Vietnam with tears in his eyes.

And we had many such encounters, my little sister and I.

We met all kinds of unexpected teachers that appeared on our path of alternative learning, outside of any kind of structure, or implemented rules and regulations or time restraints or schedules or dictates of what was worth learning and what wasn’t.

In our “school” there was no one telling us which lessons were “required” and which weren’t.

Life itself seemed to plan our syllabus, and everything around us pulled us in with the same alluring wonder and excitement that we recognized from our early childhood, when our imaginations grew like wildflowers.

My sister and I didn’t bother to label what we did as homeschooling, or unschooling, or free-schooling, because it just was. It was who we were, and we loved learning. And I have a strong suspicion that all humans love learning.

Sometimes, the best way to discover that, is to separate oneself from all the places where learning is “supposed” to take place, and explore the rest of the world, where learning and living merge into one singular, organic experience.

That’s what Lulu and I did. And we’re still at it. Care to enroll?

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

 ~Albert Einstein


[Photo: “Paris Bench” by Yanidel]


Editor: Andrea B.


About Katarina Silva

Katarina Silva is an artistic self-expressionist who thrives on the spontaneous thrill of creating photographic images in ten seconds, and inevitably employs witchcraft to do so. Her autobiographical art reflects her emotions and dreams, and is characterized by the mysterious absence of her complete face. She lives unafraid of darkness, wrapped in nature, in an obscure corner of the planet with her magical kitty. You may view her work at The Art of Katarina Silva. Or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter


67 Responses to “When School Goes Against Your Very Nature.”

  1. Sheri says:

    This sums up exactly why we opted out of traditional schooling with our three daughters. We want them to experience true freedom that self directed education brings. In the process of this lifestyle, I have rediscovered my passion for learning that is taking me on an amazing journey.

  2. This is so wonderful to hear, Sheri! Yes, it is quite an amazing journey, isn't it? And your daughters are very lucky to have parents that facilitate their own love of learning: an experience you can all share as a family. This made me very happy to read. Thank you! Hats off to all parents like yourself! :-))

  3. pranalisa says:

    this is an awesome article…brings back memories of 1st grade…bored, active, and in the corner labeled "needs improvement in conduct and self control"…some of these very non-conformist qualities are what led me to be a successful adult. Even 40 yrs later, however, it can still be a challenge to escape those labels that were assigned to me…though I am grateful for the lessons they taught me.

  4. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Fantastic story!

    But watch out there, Katarina. You risk going libertarian if you pursue your thoughts on education into the political realm.

    Public education means govt. education. Govt education requires because of 1) the financial realities of a small number of govt employees teaching a large number of coerced students and because of 2) the underlying authoritarian philosophy behind any govt program:

    a quasi-militaristic system with rules on top of rules and children coerced into sitting quietly for hours a day in obedient rows listening to the voice of authority.

    Your story of escape is inspiring.

  5. Ozz says:

    Wonderful article, thans so much for this, Katarina! Your journey, and that of your sister, has clearly been abundantly 'educational' – and just as clearly, personally enriching. Kudos to you both!

    And BTW, I don't think it's strange at all that 1) schools kill creativity, and 2) politicians don't seek to change this. This is only strange if one begins with the assumption that schools are in fact designed to facilitate learning and creativity. In fact, as this piece – replete with quotes from the original designers of the US public educational system – shows, that's simply not the case:

    For example, consider this quote from William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906:

    "Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual."


    "The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places…. It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world."

    What is strange to my mind, therefore, is not the role of the politicians (who benefit from the subsumption of the individual), but that parents so thoughtlessly subject their children to the not-so-tender ministrations of an educational system so clearly damaging to their children. This is the tragedy of our so-called 'education' system.

  6. Andréa Balt says:

    I really enjoyed this read Katarina. I completely agree with you on the fact that the current standard education hinders creativity. Unfortunately not all high-school dropouts share your culturally rich and wonderful upbringing as well as hunger for life and knowledge, which were essential in helping you and yous sister evolve and learn more than you would have in a restrictive school environment.

    I think those kids have a better chance at it by remaining in school. It's a tough and very wide subject and I guess that in the end, it comes down to a student's individual needs; where one is at and what one needs in order to evolve and change. In some cases, school is not the answer; and in others it's a better answer than what they could do or get on their own.

    Shared on main elephant facebook page and just posted to "Featured Today" on elephant culture.

    Andréa Balt, editor elephant culture.
    "Like" elephant culture on Facebook.
    Follow @MindfulCulture on Twitter.

  7. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Very nice, ozz, and nice link. Fact, I went straight to my Kindle to look for John Gatto's book, the source of the info in the link. I could only find a different Gatto book: Dumbing Us Down, The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. I got it.

  8. Lorin says:

    Posted to Elephant Family on Facebook and Twitter.

    Lorin Arnold
    Blogger at The VeganAsana
    Associate Editor for Elephant Food
    Editor for Elephant Family

  9. You're welcome Johnny! Nice chatting with you. :-))

  10. This is a great point, Lisa! THank you for mentioning the ongoing challenges one can continue to experience as an adult due to residue from labels teachers gave us when we were young. My sister suffers from this more than I do, but yes, it can be hard to escape them. I love your attitude about how those experiences (as unpleasant as they were) gave you valuable lessons that now feed the successful adult you are. Awesome! Thank you for sharing. :-))

  11. I don't know Mark, there are other countries (like Sweden), who have government schools with equally deprived budgets that approach educating their youth in entirely different ways than we do here in the US. So, when Johnny and I (above) were discussing politics and education, I was drawing from such examples around the world: foreign countries that have successfully found ways to HONOR all kinds of intelligences by incorporating them into their teaching styles in public schools. I guess they just have different priorities than our country does. Alternatives are always possible, I think. Thank you for sharing, and for appreciating my story. :-))

  12. You're absolutely right Ozz, government schools in the USA were certainly not created with the intent of facilitating learning and creativity! Excellent point. And yes, I love John Gatto's work and am very familiar with it. They had very avarice-driven motives, as you know, which did not include the whole well being of the children, etc. Those quotes you offer are such testaments to this! Scary and depressing. Thank you for the encouragement, and for this excellent point.

  13. Anna says:


    I really enjoyed reading your story. I hated school until I found something I really liked to learn and immersed myself into it. I could never imagine that learning cold be fun.

    But unlike you, I rebelled by parting and not doing anything productive with my life for while. Lucky, I rebounded early enough to catch up. If I knew what I want to do, I wouldn’t waste all these years in school and college, but this was my learning experience.

    Thanks for writing!


  14. brennagee says:

    My 3 children despise school. They beg for me to homeschool them but honestly, I don't think I could handle that. All 3 kids do well in school. They are curious and have unique personalities. I've looked for alternative schools nearby but no luck. We supplement their school "learning" with exploring – traveling, museums, walks, nature etc. Best wishes to you and your sister. Live vividly.:)

  15. Thank you Lorin. 🙂

  16. THank you! Your kids are lucky to have such an attentive Mother. I wish you the best in finding a situation for them that works. Though it sounds like you are well on your way. LOVE your "supplementing" 🙂

  17. Yes, Anna, that is a common reaction to hating school: acting out rebelliously. My sister and I did some of that too. I think it's healthy, as long as it doesn't continue indefinitely. And yes, whatever we go though in life can be our learning experience. Including school. LOL. :-)) I am happy you liked my article. Thank you so much for sharing. And, yes, connecting learning and fun can be so powerful and amazing! May you always find that.

  18. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Katarina: “I don't know Mark, there are other countries (like Sweden), who have government schools with equally deprived budgets that approach educating their youth in entirely different ways than we do here in the US.”

    True. There are many systems in the world. Here in Japan, public education works fairly well. But in both Sweden and Japan you are talking about near mono-cultures. Aren't too many of those in the world. Govt education is an attempt to impose or maintain a mono-culture and probably only works well when you already have one.

  19. Very interesting observation Mark. The terminology is a bit foreign to me though. Mono-culture as opposed to multi-culture? I am not sure I understand this entirely. You mean that societies in which most of the citizens share the same values and beliefs will have the most success at creating a school system that none of the students will find objectionable? Please forgive lack of familiarity here. I am pretty ignorant when it comes to politics. Sorry. What is a "mono-culture" and why would that make it easier on the government as far as creating satisfying schools? Doesn't this go against the multiple intelligences argument? All children around the world still have varied learning styles and intelligences. Are you saying that in a "mono-culture" the children are all the same because of the societies expectations that they be, therefore, easier to educate? I once read that Japanese students exceed in both self discipline and humility when contrasted with American students. Their performance also ranked higher, although the confidence of the American students was above that of the Japanese. I have always been fascinated by Japanese culture. But, I am not very familiar with their public school system. Why does it "work well", as you say? I am curious. And thank you for the stimulating dialogue.

  20. Yes. Thank you Mark. I agree. Success is perhaps relative to culture, and expectations bear directly on "success". And yes, I am all for more educational possibilities for children. Bravo! 🙂

  21. Thank you for sharing this with me Elly. It's always nice to know of others who are doing something to change the system, and raise the awareness of others on this education issue. And yes, I agree, the system is not intended to educate, but to control. I will head on over to your blog and check it out right now. THank you!

  22. Public school always goes against a child's nature because it was built on a paradigm of oppressing children and regimenting their bodily functions. It is an abusive institution and every day I am thankful that my teen son is unschooled.

  23. Awesome!!! :-))) Lucky boy! Rock on!

  24. A wonderful resource by Laurie A. Couture: Instead of Medicating and Punishing: Healing the causes of our children's acting-out behavior by parenting and educating the way nature intended http://www.amazon.com/Instead-Medicating-Punishin

  25. […] When School Goes Against Your Very Nature. […]

  26. tanya lee markul says:

    Katarina, you make my heart and mind spin in all the right directions. 🙂 xoxoxox

  27. Oooo, I like doing that to you! Thank you Tanya! :-)) xoxoxo

  28. OMG…wow! Your son is a very lucky boy, Debbie, to have parents who will support his freedom to learn as is most suitable to his own nature and intelligences. Congratulations! And enjoy the experience! :-))

  29. Thank you so much! :-))

  30. laurawells432 says:

    I freaking LOVE this! I want to offer this kind of education to my own children, and wish I had had that option for myself. I'm forwarding this on to everyone I know. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  31. Gretty B says:

    I love this as well! I have always been a "fan" of public school….untill my very active smart boy got there! Now i am frustrated and sad for he is NOT happy there! Your article inspires me to remind the teachers that they work for ME THE TAX PAYER!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  32. brennagee says:

    I appreciate your concern. I don't believe I have the temperament to be with my children all the time. Although the idea of spending time outside in the world with the kids is appealing, I need space for myself in order to be patient with them. I am divorced. Their father works full time. We do spend a lot of time doing things outside of school. I make it a point to not be overscheduled. The kids play outside a lot and spend much of their time in imaginative play. I'm working with their teachers closely, who by the way, are not all that keen on the school system either. Making strides to make it work.

  33. Kavla says:

    You were both lucky to have a partner in your escape, and also to be supported by what seems to be an endless amount of help and funds from your parents. I am happy for you, but escaping is not always so easy as wanting to.

  34. andrea says:

    us right-brained thinkers are allergic to school!! i hated public school. (but i loved college) thank goodness i homeschool my son. he's right-brained in a very different way than me, but also would hate school. (he's never been) good for you for dropping out. i didn't, but did inside my head. 🙂

  35. Yes, Kavla, you are right, my sister and I had a lot of support (financial and other) from our parents, and we had each other. I felt a tad guilty posting this article because I know that this is not the case for every teenager who decides to take their education into their own hands. Lulu and I were very fortunate, and I am not sure how we would have done it otherwise. I know it can feel very lonely when one does not have such support because my sister andI had friends who were not as lucky as we were. Thank you for sharing this important observation.

  36. Thank you Laura! :-))

  37. Thank you Gretty! Your son sounds like a special kid. :-))

  38. Wow! What a story! Thank you for sharing, Nicole! How awesome that you have devoted yourself to creating such alternative learning environments for children. The world needs more such innovative thinkers!! Thank you! The link looked great. I am sure you offer many valuable resources to others. Your perspective is a very valuable one. I am so glad you shared it here. :-))

  39. I am so happy to hear that you fond my story comforting! It's so sad to feel all alone against the system. The story about your son "failing" art really got to me. It's a shame how such experiences can sometimes threaten to scar us for life. All the judging and grading that goes on in public school measures us against expectations that often clash with who we are, and what out natural talents might be, which are different for everyone. If I had to suggest something to open your son back up to experimenting with art again, I would probably ask you what he REALLY likes to do. Then ask him to follow that, in his fullest expression of self. Then maybe use some art medium to express how doing that made him feel. Something abstract and wild with no rules. Just splash his feelings on paper, or something. Usually when we connect a part of us that is confident in something, with a part of us that is not, via something we already know we love doing, the two blend quite well and our fears, inhibitions or traumas dissolve. I wish you and William the best. :-))

  40. Birdgirl says:

    Reading your essay made me think of this article:

  41. Great article! Yes! Thank you for sharing Birdgirl. :-))

  42. MarySol says:

    Great article Katarina, I can totally relate. Left school at 15 and never looked back. The alternative learning I snuck in during my school years and dove into after them is what has inspired me in learning and life! When you look at it, you really get the feeling that the modern mass education system is not designed for the benefit of the students.
    Great pictures too, thanks for sharing your experiences!

  43. Great article bird girl. Yeah! Thanx for sharing it. :-))

  44. guest says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Often you only hear about children homeschooled by fanatical religious (christians) with more than questionable motives. Glad to see how it CAN be…

  45. viki says:

    This was really inspiring and gave me hope as to what my future might look like. I have a very similar story. I dropped out of high school at 16 and I have been traveling ever since. Asia, South America, and currently europe. I'm 18 now and concerned about college and which one's will accept me without a diploma or SAT scores. I think its true that its in human nature to be curious and want to learn new things. I just hope I will be able to continue my education and not look back on my decision as a mistake.
    Thanks for sharing.

  46. Amen 🙂 Loved this, Katarina….and agree with all of it. Was always an anti-school/anti-establishment girl, and I always carved my own path and created my own learning processes….and still do 🙂 Your article filled me with pure joy :))

  47. […] that I’m not a good writer and that I’m not smart enough. These perceptions started in high school. Let me set up the story a bit so you understand from where I got these feelings of inadequacy. […]

  48. Clara-Isabel says:

    Yesterday I read your article, which I loved. Today I came across that talk: "Raise kids to be entrepreneurs": http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_herold_let_s_rai
    It seems we are at a crossroad; the world as it has been during the last century IS changing, NOW, thanks to the Internet and everyone that can share his/her experiences like you. I'm so excited to be part of that!