The Tuftonian Dream: Dancing to the same music

When you were young, you maybe had a dream. You were going to fly to the moon, pass EC 5, cure cancer. Then, you grew up. You cut your hair, chose your major, changed your outlook. You changed a lot, but did you change your dream?

Many years before junior Marlon Krippendorf, a German exchange student, ever joined Public Harmony, his mother carried him in her arms to his first concert. Four-year-old Marlon watched his father strumming away on the bass, and he determined that he “always wanted to be on the stage and play music as well.”

Marlon explains, “The dreams I had evolved with the life I was living.” His father was a musician, so he wanted to be a musician. He started playing soccer the next year, so he wanted to play professional soccer. He learned from his second-grade teacher on a daily basis, so he wanted to teach, too. Still, he acknowledges, “I was always aware where the boundaries were.” His best friend routinely beat him in soccer, so he retired his dream of hoisting the World Cup trophy. He comments, “At some point, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to and didn’t want to.” Shortly thereafter, he set aside his desire to become a rock star. In his characteristically modest manner, Marlon remarks, “I always did fairly well in school, and I decided to continue with that.”

Upon graduating from high school, two notable occurrences transpired in tandem. He says, “I realized that the studies required to become a teacher wouldn’t allow me to dig deeper into the field I’m interested in.” Simultaneously, he traveled to Paris to spend a year as an ambassador in the Franco-German Youth Office. As a boy, Marlon always knew where his boundaries were, but in France, Marlon recognized that he hopes the member states of the European Union (EU) look past theirs. He recalls, “I had the feeling that as long as you work towards a common goal and try to understand the viewpoints of the other party, you can actually create a sense of group spirit which transcends national borders.”

Of course, airplanes just fly over national borders, which is how Marlon arrived in America this year with the objective of “gaining insight into the American culture.” At Tufts, Marlon has participated in several competitions with Tufts Ballroom Dance Team, but he did the most meaningful dancing of his life four years ago outside of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, France. With his fellow youth ambassadors from across the continent, Marlon had spent his day discussing ways to cultivate a shared European identity, and he describes, “There was a huge crowd of all these people you’ve discussed EU ideals and the future with, and in the evening, you were just celebrating with them in front of a stage, dancing to the same music.”

They spoke in different languages, but they danced on common ground. Now, when asked about his future career, Marlon declares in English, “Why not aim big? Why not say member of the EU Parliament?” Marlon has talked the talk, and he’s eager to waltz the waltz.