On Thursday, February 26, Ambassador LeVine visited the Bildungszentrum Langenthal to meet students and educators and talk about current U.S. policies, the U.S. school system, and how women’s empowerment has expanded the range of life choices men and women can make in the 21st century.
Ambassador Suzan LeVine and the Embassy delegation were greeted by Gymnasium Oberaargau’s Principal Thomas Multerer, the President of the Board of the Bildungszentrum Langenthal André Sommer, Langenthal’s Deputy Mayor Reto Müller, as well as the school’s deputy principals and teachers. The Bildungszentrum Langenthal is the first school in Canton Bern where the Gymnasium and the Berufsfachschule have been integrated, and Mr. Multerer gave an overview over the opportunities (increased synergies, heightened mutual understanding) and challenges (scheduling of lessons, differing school cultures) of the fusion.
Then Ambassador LeVine joined a group of around 30 students for a joint English and German literature lesson. After a short discussion of two texts from the 18th and 19th century that illustrated the role of women in those times, the discussion then turned towards the 21st century and Ambassador LeVine talked about her own, very non-linear career, as an example how the roles of both men and women in society have changed in the past years and how breaking away from traditional gender roles provides everyone with a wider range of life choices.
This was followed by a plenary session in the school’s Aula, where Ambassador LeVine gave a presentation about the U.S. school system to the Gymnasium’s English students. She also let them know where to get more information if they were planning on a stay abroad in the U.S. During the Q&A session following the talk, the students asked Ambassador LeVine questions about U.S. policy and her life as an Ambassador, and she talked about the U.S. strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL, President Obama’s continued efforts to close the Guantanamo detention facility, and about the Obama-Biden Administration’s goal of strengthening apprenticeship programs in the U.S.
At the close of the plenary session, Ambassador LeVine thanked the students for their insightful and challenging questions, and asked to take a selfie with them all.