Metamora resident selected as global scholar

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Strong academics, an interest in international affairs and a dedication to community involvement are all characteristics of Allen Schaidle, 21, of Metamora.

Currently a student at the University of Kansas, Allen is one of 10 students selected as a Global Scholar. He also participates in the international students support program, mentoring a student from Kuwait. He was also recognized by the university for coaching a youth soccer team and volunteer work at a day-care center.

"Allen has taken his interests in education, culture, globalization, and younger people and put them into actions as part of his college experience," said Chuck Schaidle, his nominator and father. "I think Allen is a good example of area young people who are making their mark far outside of the Peoria area. They are outstanding ambassadors for central Illinois."

Allen also organized the first Falling Whistles event at the University of Kansas. This organization's mission is to stop the war in the Congo. He is also working with a university professor doing research work on education in rural Kansas and was a presenter at a Missouri conference on education.

Q: Has there been a person in your life who has served as a mentor or role model who has encouraged you to be the best that you can be? If so, who is that person and describe what a difference he or she has made in your life.

A: Throughout our lives, I believe individuals encounter several mentors and role models who influence them. For myself I have been grateful enough to experience many such individuals, too many to list here, but most currently Professor Jonathan Hagel has been a mentor for me. Jonathan is a professor of history at the University of Kansas and has guided me through academic pursuits. He's also given me advice and guidance when it comes to understanding life. We talk a lot about doing whatever it takes to make you happy. He's also really helped me be more aware of helping other people. He continuously broadens the range of my ideas and views on life.

Q: Why is it important for you to give back to your community?

A: Political theory and science teaches us that there is the concept of the "commons" and the common good. Giving back to my community is reaching out for the common good. I have worked with an organization called Falling Whistles. It advocates for awareness in the Congo. By raising awareness about the issues in the country I feel like I'm impacting the global community I belong to in a positive way. On the local scale, I used to coach a boys soccer team and many of the kids came from lower socio-economic households. While working with these boys, I learned how their society, schools and parents had pushed them along in life. Some of them needed more attention than others. The common good was being overlooked in these young boys and helping them made me feel like I could restore that.

Q: Which of your accomplishments are you the most proud of and why?

A: I was recently accepted to a competitive study abroad opportunity to study and work in Italy this coming summer. The application process was intense because the program is offered to only 10 students from three different universities. Half of the time I will be working inside of schools with the administration to develop better cross-cultural leadership skills and methods of motivation. The other half I will be studying and doing some traveling. I am pretty excited to meet my host family.

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be and why?

A: Hands down if I had the opportunity to meet anyone in the world it would be Cornel West. I aspire to one day think like he does. His teachings of economic and social theories push my thinking. Our discussion is hard to pin down. I am a fan of letting discussions develop naturally. I'm not sure what I would ask him, really. Probably something like, "How would you help people work together on a global scale?" So, I can't really say what our exact conversation would be about. I would just let it flow. I guess we will just have to wait and see if the conversation happens one day.

Q: You have been very involved with a variety of organizations? Which one is most important to you? What drew you to that organization and why is helping them important to you?

A: I think it is best for individuals to be heavily involved with multiple communities and organizations. The one I would have to say is my favorite is the Global Partners Program that I belong to at the University of Kansas. The program pairs domestic students with international students to help them adjust to living in the United States for school. I was drawn to this organization because I'm naturally drawn to cross-cultural situations, and I find that diversity is something I strive for in my day-to-day life. I do not know if I help the students more than they help me. While spending time with them my eyes are opened to how globalized our world has really become and how much citizens from around the world can learn from one another.

Q: What are your future plans, where do you see yourself in five years and again in 20 years?

A: The one thing I have learned while in college is that people are going to ask you what your future looks like. Ever since I have been young, working on a global scale has been on the forefront of my mind. In the next five years I see myself pursuing a Master's, and then a Ph.D., in International and Comparative Education at my future university. In 20 years, I see myself working in a university to research the concept of cultural intelligence and work in the private sector, working with global corporations or institutions. As globalization continues to sweep our economic markets and daily lives, we will need people who truly understand the factors of this global force. Hopefully I will be at the forefront of those understandings.

Q: What advice would you give a young person just starting high school?

A: The advice I would give to a new high school student is to expose yourself to a wide range of topics and to run cross-country. In my high school years I loved going to the library and checking out the most random books I could find. Literally, I remember once I grabbed a book on the history of medicine in one hand and in the other hand, one about the positives of free markets concerning consumers. In regards to running cross country, not only does it get you in amazing shape, but it improves your mental health. Cross-country taught me more about motivation and determination than any other experience in my high school career.

Q: Share something about yourself that surprises people.

A: I often really surprise people when I tell them I run ultra trail marathons. They usually ask if I am stupid or crazy because of what your body goes through. Since entering college I've run three trail ultras: a 44-miler and two 50Ks. Honestly, running that many miles and for that many hours is a really humbling experience. There's so much time to just think about everything. Afterward, you feel renewed and enlightened.

Q: How has your family influenced what you have done in your life?

A: I can't express how my family has influenced the events and outcomes of my life. I think the clearest example of their influence is the value of education they have instilled within me. On both sides of family my grandparents struggled just to receive a high school diploma. Their children and grandchildren benefitted from all the hard work. The legacy they created is so inspirational and has influenced me to never forget how grateful I am to have the opportunity to pursue educational endeavors. Thus, their influence has taught me to not take education lightly and to give it the respect it deserves.