A Big Bang in Germany

Field Trip to Brussels.

This summer marked the 11th year that the Summer Session in International and Comparative Law was held in the town of Giessen, Germany.  The program brings together law students from the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America to learn and live together for four weeks.  This one of a kind program is a partnership between the Marquette University Law School, the University of Wisconsin Law School, and the Justus Liebig University.

I was proud to address our 37 participants at this year’s Closing Ceremony on August 15, 2019.  Here is the text of my remarks.

Herr Doctor Professor Marauhn, Vice President Kampfer, Honored Guests, Faculty and Graduates:

It all started with a Big Bang.

No, I am not referring to the American television show about young scientists that is apparently popular in every country on the planet.  I am talking about the original Big Bang, that sudden burst of light and energy that began our universe.

Imagine if you had been there when the Big Bang occurred.  At first, there was chaos, disorder, and confusion.  But slowly, the gases cooled and became planets, and the planets formed orbits around suns, and the universe took shape.  And it was beautiful.

Four weeks ago, you arrived in Giessen, Germany with your very own Big Bang.  And yes, there was chaos.

You were in a city that you did not know.  You were surrounded by a German language that you did not speak.  And you were accompanied by classmates who were strangers to you.  And just like the original Big Bang, the temperature was as hot as the surface of the sun.

But slowly, out of chaos, order was born.

Classmates from different cultures became your close friends.  The subject matter of your classes in international law went from confusing to interesting to profound — and opened your eyes to new ways of thinking about the law.

You observed your professors from Germany, the United States and Colombia, and you slowly came to understand that all law professors are the same no matter what country they come from — they all assign too much reading.

In the background, invisible but powerful, there was a force that pulled the chaos together and created order.  No, I am not speaking of the invisible force of gravity.  I am speaking of the Help Desk staff.

Without our Coordinator Magdalena, and the team of Godwin, Franceska, Armin, Kristina, Dijwar, Teresa, Jonathan and Jenny, there would still be chaos.  Let’s give them a round of applause.

And so, one night, in the City of Giessen, Germany, in an Irish Pub serving Guinness beer, I watched you participate in the Japanese tradition of karaoke, and sang along with you while Frank Sinatra bragged about living life “My Way.”  In that moment, you created a new universe.

Your universe.

And it was beautiful.

Congratulations and good luck.

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