Skip to main content Skip to footer content

Jan-Kristof Louis


By: Jan-Kristof Louis

An Eastern proverb says: "Experience is a comb which nature gives to men when they are bald." This means that when a man lacks ideas, experiencing something plants the seeds for a new beginning. I believe that this idea reflects what I was going through during my early teen years, specifically when I was thirteen.

When I was small, I used to live in the islands and architecture is more traditional and ancient than what I saw when I came to America. I used to think that I would live with my family forever and that I would not have to care about money issues and such. But my mother proved me wrong. She told me many things will happen and everyone "has to leave the nest and fly away" at sometime in their life. That time would come for me. Now I had to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up but there were so many professions out there.

Later on, my mother and I came to Manhattan to visit and what I saw amazed me: buildings upon buildings going high up, reaching the heavens. It was unbelievable. What most amazed me were the World Trade Center towers: not one, but two extraordinary works of what I consider to be pure modern art. Right there, I was set: I pictured myself wearing a helmet holding blueprints and directing my men into erecting my own creation.

The best has yet to come. My mother then took me to a construction field. Since the engineer was one of my mother's best friends, I got to come every day to watch the progress at which the building was moving. These were the best days of my life. From the first day, when the tunnels for the foundations were being dug, I felt I was part of something important. I no longer felt like I was ten years old. I felt as if I had grown into an adult right there and that my future was set. A famous man once said: "Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him." Right now, I am that man and it is up to me to come up with the right plans and use this experience to shape my future and provide a better world for humanity. I want to be a civil engineer, the branch of engineering which deals with the design and construction of public works: bridges, tunnels, waterways, canals, streets, sewage systems, railways, airports and my personal favorite, buildings.

Another experience that had an impact on me was the September 11th attacks on our country. I was devastated by the number of people who died from those attacks but also, the WTC towers, which were like idols to me, which gave me my future, now destroyed. Many wondered if they were going to rebuild them but I had high hopes. And now the foundations for the new WTC are being dug, but the original will not be forgotten. When I saw the design for the new tower, I thought to myself that it's going to be breath-taking to bring imagination to life.