Connor Egan ’10 continues global citizenship in Garmisch, Germany
Centre is known for giving its students countless opportunities to study abroad — but global citizenship doesn’t end after graduation for many Centre alums, including Connor Egan ’10.
As a Centre student, Egan studied abroad in Merida, Mexico, twice: for the fall semester of 2007, as well as for an internship with Kaxil Kiuic BioCultural Reserve during CentreTerm 2009. Egan also spent the summer of 2008 in South Africa volunteering with Reading Camp, a non-profit sponsored by the Episcopoal Diocese of Lexington — a group he’s been involved with since high school.
“I’ve spent just under two of my last six years abroad,” Egan says. “I’ve lived on three continents. I’ve tasted some of the best — and worst — food one could imagine. I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone a thousand times and have mostly appreciated it.”
Egan is now working at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, Germany, as a Customer Relations Resource Assistant.
“That’s a glorified way of saying ‘security guard’,” Egan says. “I would be lying to you if I said my job was glamorous, but it has afforded me the opportunity to live in Europe for a year, and I would not trade it for anything.”
Although Egan has been far away from Centre for a year now, what he learned on campus has helped him gain the most from his international experiences.
“Centre prepared me by pushing me to be inquisitive and to embrace challenges. I will always remember the intrigue [English professor] Dan Manheim showed when a student presented a unique opinion in a class discussion,” Egan says. “It always struck me that Dr. Manheim, who was undoubtedly well-versed in a nauseatingly hearty number of scholarly opinions on whatever passage we were discussing, was genuinely curious and interested to hear something new. That stuck with me — to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”
Studying and living abroad has afforded Egan many amazing experiences — some more bizarre than others.
“I once had an elderly Bavarian woman hiss at me for crossing a barren street on a red light,” he recalls. “However, in parts of Mexico there aren’t pedestrian lights, and the traditional ‘walk’ sign depicts a mother and child in full sprint.”
Egan has spent time in communities of all kinds, but he has found that he can learn a lot about many cultures and people while simultaneously fueling a dependency — on coffee.
“I am a certifiable caffeine addict and am fascinated by how different cultures get their daily fix. Because of this, I try to step into any and every coffeehouse I find,” he says.
A love of movies has also given Egan insight into certain cultural eccentricities.
“I find cinema culture enthralling: from the movie theaters to the people who frequent them to the types of movies people are drawn to around the world,” Egan says. “The kids I worked with in South Africa loved the Marx Brothers. I can’t think of a single ten-year-old back home who even knows who the Marx Brothers are. It’s fascinating to me what different cultures are drawn to in this sense.”
Far more important to Egan than the differences between other cultures and his own, however, are the similarities between himself and the people he has met across the globe.
“When I first signed on for the semester in Merida some five years ago, I did so with the assumption that the time abroad would be a great way for me to learn about a people far different from myself. While I have certainly seen plenty of new and fascinating things, I have also discovered that people throughout the world are far more alike than I could have imagined,” he says. “Through all our socio-political divides, we really just aren’t that different. That’s rather comforting to me.”
As Egan continues to live abroad, he finds constant reminders of the commonalities everyone shares, no matter where in the world they are.
“One of the invaluable things I am in the process of taking away from my experiences abroad is a belief that should we, as global citizens, make an effort to get along, we would be pleasantly surprised by the results,” Egan says.