A Pivotal Moment

1988 speech in parliament

As a child, I never quite fit in. Reading opened up the world for me and books became my most treasured sanctuary. Writing was a natural progression and became a passion. I dabbled in short stories and poems. Then, during my high school years, I signed up for the odd writing contest.

In 1988, I won first price in a state-wide competition. I conducted a survey in my town and wrote a hundred-page study on how our school system could be re-vamped. As a result, I was invited to the parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg along with about two dozen other teenagers and was asked to share my findings and give a speech to my fellow students. Stepping up like this in front of people was a pivotal moment in my young life, even though most of my adolescent contemporaries would rather have been someplace else judging by their slightly bored facial expressions. I wasn’t fazed and wasn’t by far as nervous as I had expected to be. Towards the end of my speech, part of my audience even looked a bit more awake.

Now, 27 years later, I find myself smiling at this memory and at my unshakeable optimism and curiosity that have stayed with me my entire life.

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