“Become friends with people who aren’t your age.
Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours.
Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class.
This is how you see the world.
This is how you grow.”
Felipe Vogel is an extraordinary young man. There are an estimated 1,000 people worldwide who can speak and read Latin. He is one of them. He came to the University of Kentucky in the Classics masters program; one of the top programs in the world. Over lunch we discussed the irony of that success, and Kentucky’s enormous literary community, juxtaposed against the state’s illiterate reputation. It was a lunch to say so-long to Felipe, and thank him for a job well done. He starts his TA position in Classics soon, and had to resign his position with us as a result.
It isn’t just his big brain that makes Felipe unique. It’s his deeply held compassion; his silent understanding and constant quest for enlightenment that I found most astounding. Sure, he did a great job, but for me personally, I found his presence reassuring. He made me believe there is hope in the world; that not all people of his generation are raised to feel entitled or selfish or unconcerned for their fellow man. He was the opposite of all those things. Felipe never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything. Even on his worst days his light never dimmed. Felipe is a seeker of wisdom, and in that searching he is empathetic beyond his years. He is a rare soul, and I am eternally grateful to know him.