Global Companions – My French brother

Jesuit education sometimes pushes us into the Jesuit way of life. At the age of 14, I was angered to learn that my new school, Saint Ignatius in Cleveland, Ohio had placed me in a French Class. Not Spanish, as I had chosen.

I cannot remember what kind of stink I decided to raise, but as it turns out, not getting what I wanted turned out to be one of the great setbacks of my life. I like to think of it as a “nudge.” This small push altered the course of my life for the better. Not just for the better, but it altered everything that I am.

My French 2 class was taught by an erudite and personable Jesuit named Fr. Petkash. He regaled us with stories of travels in France, living in other cultures, and broadening horizons. From thereon, I was infected with a need to move out of my comfort zone.

I dreamed of being an exchange student. I talked with a mentor in the Jesuit community, and wisely, he suggested I host a student before I buy a plane ticket. So I pulled a flier off the wall at his behest and took it home to my parents. Surprised as they were by most of my big ideas, my mom and dad were supportive and contacted the agency. They chose my French counterpart from a list. Six month later, my French brother arrived.

Not getting what I wanted started to change me and the course of my life.

Dan Hess 1Me and Fabien in 1986


Dan Hess 2Me and Fabien today — Oh the ravages of time!

Stay tuned … more to follow — how one relationship might serve to change thousands.