Wofford College president Ben Dunlap tells the story of Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who taught him about passionate living and lifelong learning. Many of us know someone who is still a learner well after they leave school. Look for Dunlap’s anecdotal indicators about how to form this habit in yourself,
Who is he?:
Ben Dunlap is a true polymath, whose talents span poetry, opera, ballet, literature and administration. Ben Dunlap was a dancer for four years with the Columbia City Ballet, kicking off a life of artistic and cultural exploration. A Rhodes Scholar, he did his PhD in English literature at Harvard, and is now the president of Wofford College, a small liberal arts school in South Carolina.
Why you should listen:
He has taught classes on a wide variety of subjects, from Asian history to creative writing.
He’s also a writer-producer for television, and his 19-part series The Renaissance has been adopted for use by more than 100 colleges. He has been a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in Thailand and a moderator at the Aspen Institute, and a man who clearly knows how to be a lifelong learner.
- Have you ever had a mentor? Where they a standard part of your local culture?
- Dunlap talks about an uncle who, having seen his family to safety, Returned to South Carolina alone to face down the KKK. How does this story help his talk?
- On his first day of teaching at Wofford College, he met Sandor Teszler, a 90 year old, auditing his class. He tells the story of Sandor’s life as part of his talk. Select one example from this biography (of Sandor) and tell and discuss it with someone.
- Do you believe that human beings are fundamentally good? How would you defend your position?
- He introduces Francis Robiscek, a pioneer heart surgeon, and Roger Milliken, an executive who still runs his textile empire at 89. He invited them to dinner after a lecture by Robiscek. These two men had an argument after dinner about whether the second Harry Potter movie was better than the first. What does this show about the mindset of lifelong learners?
- His final words are in Hungarian, as is fitting for his talk. Translated into English, they say “This is our task; we know it will be hard. How’s it going?” Unpack and explain this to someone?