nomadderwhere

Why do maps still have a hold on us?

It is one of the most appealing features of large maps, and world maps in particular, that all journeys are feasible.

-Simon Garfield

my world mapEvery time I return home from a trimester abroad, I find that some mischievous hands have misplaced a couple pins on my big world map. All of the pins on the Caribbean will be scattered on the carpet below, a region equal in size and elevation to a baby’s hand. There will be a few pins in the middle of the ocean, adjacent to the sea monster or the three-masted ship that make this modern map look old and nostalgic.

I mounted this Barnes & Noble purchase from 2007 on foam core with the hopes that, some day in the near future, I would have it hung predominantly on my bedroom wall, with little red pins pimpling every continent denoting the lands I knew firsthand.

I’m no Columbus. Why a map?

I had high standards when I bought this map. It couldn’t look like it belonged in a 5th grade classroom, with excessive labels and primary colored-countries; it had to be a little antique in appearance and visually pleasing to the eye – something I could stare at for decades.

When not tampered with by my niece and nephews, the map and its pins act as a visual reminder of the journeys I’ve taken that I never thought were possible, ones formerly seen as too formidable or expensive. The blank spaces on the map inspire what newspapers now often fail to evoke: a curiosity for lands and cultures that dip below our usual radars. Read More »

Greece is up next!

Greece, vintage travel posterMy hands smell of (free) salt and vinegar chips as I type away from within the Atlanta airport lounge. I am en route to Athens for the next three months, and I’m happy that my anxiety has finally converted itself into pure excitement.

Sometimes I get nervous before a flight to the next TGS location, because in a way it denotes another big landmark in my life: the start of the next chapter. Who knows what Athens will hold for my future?

It’s time to throw on my jacket and head to the gate, but not before I salivate at a few vintage travel posters of the new locale. If you have any recommendations for Athens or Greece in general, I’m all ears! Comment below :) Read More »

Acting upon the voiced needs of Nakavika

Bethany paints a coy fish on the wall by halogen light (Nakavika, Fiji)Most of us start off isolated. Then we discover the thrills of adventure. We get slapped in the face by the lessons of exposure, and that leads to a rapid rethinking of everything our brains had already mapped. We like to think at this point that we evolve from a tourist to a traveler.

There comes a call to act upon the lessons learned from exposure. Those actions are inspired by the purest motivations of and for humanity. This is when a traveler becomes an idealist. I venture to guess it happens to everyone who starts traveling in their teens and early 20s.

The idealist sets out to change the course of something they find unfair, and along the way, inevitably, the course sends the idealist sailing, flying, skidding, brutally falling flat on their face; a simultaneous injury to the understanding, ego, and soul that, overnight, can produce a cynic.

I never became a cynic about travel, but I certainly became a cynic about aid. After my two-month trip to Fiji, I started doubting the effectiveness of any outsider in a place of “need.” In the realm of humanitarian work, I think I started everything off on the wrong foot.

What I did develop on that trip were strong connections amongst the kids, youth, and adults that only became clear upon returning five years later. Read More »

Golf cart cruising like a country club boss

This is what I do with my time off.

While in Miami on official TGS business, I joined my friend Nick on a road trip to visit his grandmother in Boca Raton. We felt like doing something adventurous on our weekend off, and when a spontaneous trip to Cuba didn’t pan out (due to their visa restrictions, not ours), I decided to tag along for his mini-family reunion.

The point of the trip wasn’t to craft a story or film anything; we were there to visit a lovely woman and enjoy some peace and quiet pre-Costa Rica. However, when we embarked on an exploration of the neighborhood in a retro golf cart, the inspiration flowed. What resulted was something we labeled “golf cart funk”–really just some POV-style, silly moments strung together with a retro flavor much like a title sequence. And I love me some title sequences. Read More »

Photographing Christmas with the family

Sometimes when I’m home, I turn the camera on my family. They like to cheese it up in photos, but when their cheek muscles relax a bit and they get into their element, you can see the real smiles emerge. Moments of waiting and reflection are also pretty touching.

Allison and William, Christmas 2014 Read More »

Mementos from a beautiful chapter in the Pacific Islands

Guatemala Guayab cold brew bottle rings top my armrest. I love the way this couch design enables my morning coffee needs. The elixir leaves a rich aftertaste that comforts me as much as the wafting smell of cinnamon and simmering tangelos from the stovetop.

Soon I will set up a buffet on the kitchen island: spicy potatoes, simple salads, kiwis and oranges galore. This is all that is left in our Auckland apartment, other than the Weetbix and Vegemite. Those can stay put.

My toes are chilly, as per usual with these cold, slick wooden floors. I do not have good posture sitting here writing on my final morning, so my spine yells at me in anticipation of a long journey in cramped quarters. This city can be pleasantly tropical at times, but today, I welcome the relentless rain and wind. I have no reason to feel guilty for spending these last few hours at the computer, wrapping my head around my imminent departure from Aotearoa.

What will I want to remember from this chapter of my life, I wonder… and what’s it to you, dear reader of Nomadderwhere? How can I be both a good documentarian of my own story and a contributor to your better understanding of New Zealand, of TGS, of nomadic life?

I’m too fresh with this experience to identify any wise takeaways. Maybe a little airplane meditation is called for. Until then, I will try to whip up something true, mementos from this term that I will take with me for as long as I can.

Share your good fortune as much as possible.

Auckland, New Zealand at dawn from apartmentSometimes my roommate Bree and I score big in the TGS housing lottery, and Auckland was one of those times. Our apartment overlooked the harbor where passing sailboats and clouds kept the landscape serene and beautiful. We invited friends and family to visit us as much as possible, whether for Bacon and Beer parties, the use of our Sky TV sports stations, or extended stays right in the heart of the CBD (Central Business District). Nights out in Britomart typically started in our home to the tunes on Russ’ iPhone. In addition, we hosted a few student dinners and gatherings to share the majesty of our view at sunset. Read More »

iPads and chicken slaughters bring me clarity after five years

Chaney, Bethany, and I returned to Vita’s house and slumped onto the floor, unaware until static of just how tired we had become from the sun and water. The boys all disappeared and swiftly returned fresh and clean. Unable to do much more than relax, I sprawled on the grass mat floor in the living room, lazily looking out the doorway until the kids returned from school.

Bridging the gap with toys

The most dedicated students of The Nakavika Project were young boys around 9 or 10 years-old. They were some of the least self-conscious and most inquisitive students of the village. Now these same boys are fully immersed in their teenage years and face more barriers in communicating with us. Thankfully, they still had a desire to interact with me and reconnect as much as I did.

Paulo takes a break from drawing on the iPad (Nakavika, Fiji)

Two days into our trip, Samu was still quiet around me, so I tried sparking something with an iPad. I showed him how to first type his name and then full sentences. His pointer finger took time locating the appropriate keys on the QWERTY layout, and his shyness made it difficult to decide on the next sentences without the help of his brothers. Tongue flicks indicated mild embarrassment and reminded me of how the kids used to battle discomfort in our English speaking classes. Independent thinking and standing out aren’t part of village culture. Read More »

Washing away old worries in a stone cathedral

At 7:00am, the sun summoned me before it heated the mist to the ground. I watched Samu, Paterecio, and Paulo have breakfast before school: deep-fried pancakes and heavily-sugared tea. The air was brisk enough to merit a jacket, so I layered it over my sulu and headed toward the rugby pitch.

All as it once was

Kids pushed through the mist to school, toothbrushes in hand for the mandatory brushing session. I wandered with iPhone in hand, looking for service, searching for ways to verbalize my thoughts.

Sun heats the misty mountains (Nakavika, Fiji)

After a round of yadra’s (Fijian for good morning) and smiles to those starting their day, I found a little palm tree without dangerous dropping coconuts to lean on while I watched the school children line up. I felt a couple eyes on my back, young men observing a girl writing in her notebook at dawn.

When I returned to the house, Vita was ready with breakfast, tablecloth splayed and spotted with her Christmas-themed cups and plates with donuts and cassava fritters. I found it mysterious that the tea in her plastic pitcher could remain scalding hot long after breakfast finished. Vilive and friends decided to take us for a swim to Wainevesa waterfall and the Namado gorge, a place I hadn’t seen in its true form since the cyclone. Read More »

An emotional, highly anticipated return to Nakavika

Buzzing bodies danced and tackled each other at sunset, as we watched the rugby boys rip their weathered jerseys over a try. Little Daiana sat next to me with the same cheeky adorable grin she had at 2 but a very different vocabulary. I sat stunned by the environment I was in.

Bethany meets the children (Nakavika, Fiji)

Finally reentering the dream

Hours earlier, after a sunny and smooth carrier ride, we arrived at the most colorful, secluded place I’ve ever known. So many kids and their mothers stood at the carrier drop-off point, peering in through the legs. I sighed and gathered myself behind sunglasses. I have never felt so grateful to be welcome, so appreciative that others accepted my presence.

Immediately Vita came into view, and my mouth fell open. She was the first to opt out of the handshake/cheek press combo and embrace me wholeheartedly. Then came into sight my first Fijian sister, Bui. I pointed at her reserved grin, which exploded when acknowledged. Every kid’s face around her looked familiar but was now paired with a significantly taller body.

Weiss stood with arms crossed near the edge of the crowd; the last time I saw him was not under pleasant circumstances, tense arguments about rent. I closed the last remaining gap between us with a step and an outstretched hand. He was cordial, though I still couldn’t read how he felt five years later. Read More »

Reunited with the Fiji of my dreams in the markets of Suva

I’m thankful for magic today, the kind I’m used to in India, the kind that places two pals who have been separated for five years in the same market at the same time. What started out as an overly confident internal monologue – one repeating to the eyes that the people they see are familiar – turned out to be based on truth, on a belief that not only is the world small but Fiji even smaller, especially with Facebook and a little prior warning.

Here’s what happened the moment we hit Suva.

Resting battleships under an angry sky (Suva, Fiji)Chance reunions

Piling our loads on our backs, Chaney, Bethany, and I started walking towards Suva central and potential accommodations for the night. My eyes bounced from markets with sulus to passing Indo-Fijian faces to mangos the size of a foot.

I heard a squeal and didn’t react outwardly, but internally, my over-stimulated time-traveling mind wondered if that was someone recognizing me…five years later…in a city I only passed through on occasion. It sounds big-headed, but I still let my mind go there, choosing to see it more as “small world acceptance.”

My head was turned right, eyeing the produce and vendors, but a presence came to my left saying:

Welcome to Fiji!

I reacted in amazement before the information reached my brain: Siteri was standing in front of me…at the market in Suva…spotted me the moment I arrived with no other knowledge than my flight time. I guess I could have anticipated this crossing of paths in retrospect, because we had been connecting on Facebook, little blue lines coming onto my screen from a dream I once had. Regardless of the plausibility of the chance encounter, I was now face-to-face with tangible evidence of my long and confusing stint in Fiji, a time I still chew on in my mind for more clarity and takeaways.

Her name is Siteri, and she is my umbilical cord to Nakavika. Read More »

I booked a ticket to step back into a dream. I’m Nakavika-bound.

In November of 2009, I was making plans with my dear friend Garrett to travel back to Fiji to start a humanitarian project in the village of Nakavika. To this day, I have yet to accurately verbalize how truly life-changing that trip was. Since returning home from that trip, I’ve been working steadily in a global context, unable to dedicate the necessary time to help the project flourish again. It has been especially hard to make anything – even simple communication – happen from afar with a community that is not Internet-connected.

Walking back to the village

Photography by Garrett Russell

Five years later, I’m making similar travel plans, but this time, my goals are much simpler. Next month, I am traveling back to Fiji with the intent to reconnect with Nakavika and gain some perspective on our time there, five years later.

Recalling and reliving a dream

I’ve been living in Auckland, New Zealand for the past two months, continuing my work with THINK Global School. New developments at work have incorporated leisure time for employees to travel within the school term. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit since February 2010, but thanks to the proximity, cost, and flexibility with work, that return to Nakavika is finally possible. Read More »

Pretending to be a senior and prepping for a new phase of travel

Photo by Breanna ReynoldsThis is the start of my fourth year of nomadism with THINK Global School. Since 2011, I have lived in Ecuador, Thailand, Germany, Argentina, Boston, India, Japan, and New Zealand, all of which presented very different lifestyles, challenges, and community members.

These “homes” only indicate a fraction of the incredible locations I experienced alongside students and teachers: the Galapagos Islands, Laos, five other European countries on an Amazing Race and personal adventures, Uruguay, Bhutan, Kashmir, and the Tohoku region of Japan, amongst others.

Just like my seniors, I feel it essential to start looking back at my time here, to gather my thoughts and understand the shift in my world view. I think I’ve grown exponentially here, not just through learning how to teach and communicate but learning how to think from the students and staff that make this a priority.

I have been and continue to be married to the job. You may accurately read into this that I have experienced incredible highs that inspired unending gratitude and strenuous lows that made me question what I’m doing with my life. Read More »

Let’s take a second and think about… wax.

My seemingly irrelevant blog post title is a result of a creative session with some students and fellow teachers. THINK Global School has many clubs and extra-curriculars that fill out the day past the core classes and travels, included in which is Word.

Breanna – my colleague, roommate, and travel pal for the last three years – developed Word while we were located in Japan, and these sessions helped me produce most of the creative writing pieces I’ve posted on this blog in 2014. In this session, each participant scribbles a word on a piece of ripped paper, and all go into a pile from which one is blindly chosen. This word can be simple or complex, literal or lyrical. The word chosen sparks some form of creation during that time frame by all in attendance (and that could include virtual participants via the Word website).

The most recent Word session was brought to us by the word “wax,” an option possibly inspired by the candle that sat close to the pieces of paper. This was what I came up with in that available hour:

Wax - from Word Read More »

Climbing Kilimanjaro in a body not built for these heights, part 3

Never have I felt so lucky to have this traveling job than I did on our attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, even in the face of extreme conditions and sudden danger. This is part 3 of a 3-part series on our journey to the top of Africa and a bittersweet goodbye four years in the making.

TGS is good at the silly faces (Moshi, Tanzania)

Descent

Kili Guide Alex was the only one left on the summit with me when I returned from the highest land “bathroom” I’ve ever used. He didn’t want to risk anymore of my swerves and teeters on the shifty scree, so he grabbed my hand yet again and descended.

I was slow. I paused often to drink water. He grew impatient.

Pushing my hand toward a different direction, Alex led me square off the mountain face, straight down the slope. One footstep would push wheelbarrows full of little volcanic rocks down, obscuring the switchbacks like a toothpick through latte foam. In seconds, I was meters lower without much effort at all.

I was skiing! No… I was screeing! Read More »

Climbing Kilimanjaro in a body not built for these heights, part 2

Never have I felt so lucky to have this traveling job than I did on our attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, even in the face of extreme conditions and sudden danger. This is part 2 of a 3-part series on our journey to the top of Africa and a bittersweet goodbye four years in the making.

Liam and senior guide Charlie make their way across the saddle (Moshi, Tanzania)

Switchbacks

Reaching the third hut meant we arrived at our highest sleeping elevation. In the next handful of hours, we were expected to eat dinner, attempt to get some hours of (disorienting) sleep, and arise before midnight to brave the final stretch. The peak’s looming presence was daunting to say the very least, and it was at this time, after dizzying bathroom stops and an early dinner, that many strong-willed students finally voiced the unspoken as of yet: they were scared. Read More »

Climbing Kilimanjaro in a body not built for these heights, part 1

Never have I felt so lucky to have this traveling job than I did on our attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, even in the face of extreme conditions and sudden danger. This is part 1 of a 3-part series on our journey to the top of Africa and a bittersweet goodbye four years in the making.

Basecamp

The bags the porters carried up to 4,700m (Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania)Shoving 100 wet wipes into a skinny bag with 3 liters of water, rain-proof pants, and the day’s lunch isn’t easy. Though my work “uniform” often calls for a back-bending pack of gear, I felt like a fumbling mess trying to make this little daypack of mine close. Tucked under the awning from the misty rain, I tried to pull myself together, baggage- and emotion-wise, to start mobilizing a group of teenagers toward a mountain.

Indiana does not typically breed the world’s most daring adventurers, and I never had realistic expectations of mountain climbing growing up; I think my hardest physical challenge from 3rd to 5th grade was trying to master the toe-touch jump. It never happened, well.. except maybe on a trampoline, but that doesn’t count.

These days my realistic expectations of daring feats have nothing to do with most people’s sense of reality. The realities of many of my friends and family back at “home” often involve children of their own, homeowner woes, and Disney cruises. It’s here, in this polar opposite work world of THINK Global School, that a late night email can inform me that I’m participating in a bucket list opportunity. Read More »

A patchwork quilt of my days in Japan

For the last two years, I’ve used these little collages as a way to quickly chronicle a chapter of my work life. While this says “Hiro” (a.k.a Hiroshima) and some of the images are from elsewhere in Japan, this represents some of my favorite moments throughout this term, the ones I continue to savor even months later.

After two years of aging and squaring off iPhone images for my immediate friends only, I decided this summer to make my account public. I’ve kept that venue private in order to better define my lines between personal life and work life – in essence keeping a morsel of my output away from immediate reach of my students. I have since realized the value of the app in our TGS community as well as the fact that my style of content doesn’t merit guarding. There’s a lot of fun still to be had with sharing and tagging images on this platform, and I don’t want that boundary there anymore between myself and my students. Please join me in gramming the world :)

Instagram Hiroshima mosaic copy

(Inspiration. Click the image to view in a lightbox.) Read More »

My first step into the world of feature-length documentaries

If you’ve ever wondered what the role of “Media Specialist” at a traveling high school consists of, join the club. I am constantly scratching my head and looking around this ever-flexing job description to make sure I am fulfilling my real purpose. What began with a need to create video and photo content for marketing purposes expanded within the interview process to also include the creation of educational media, followed by a teaching role, archival responsibilities, and curriculum building. It gets a little bigger but a little more focused every year.

Photography by Joann McPike © THINK Global School, 2013

I like to think that, on top of my five established responsibilities, I am still experimenting within my role at this experimental high school.

Why weXplore? exporting, filmmakingLast month, I finished a long project that required me to expand my skill set and the previous definition of TGS media; I completed a feature-length documentary film. Equipped with guidance from other TGS teachers and many community members, it came together throughout a long and sometimes bumpy process of collaboration that thickened my skin and refined my understanding of storytelling.

In January 2013, I traveled to Bhutan with 30 international students, only to come home with mass amounts of footage that couldn’t be condensed into a little web video. Fifteen months later, I screened a feature-length film from that trip to the students who lived it. (I was even able to share it with the Prime Minister of Bhutan and receive feedback!) Read More »

Q&A: teaching digital storytelling – live chat!

Semester at Sea impacts my day yet again :) Matthew Straub and I were on the S’07 voyage together, and a few years later, we discussed participation in The Nakavika Project after I returned from Fiji. I think having the common bond of SAS-hood inspires people to stay connected and communicative with other global and passionate people. Since chatting about potential collaboration on TNP, we’ve been in touch about ideas and our work.

This morning, I jumped on a Google Hangout with Matthew to respond to his recent question about digital storytelling and high school students. He is coordinating communications for a 5-week program through Singularity University called “Exponential Youth Camp.” After a quick catch-up from our respective cities of Chicago and Hiroshima, we dove into understanding his program, his objectives for documentation, and ways to tackle potential challenges.


Read More »

Northeast Japan still hurts from the 3/11 disaster…and you knowing that actually helps

One month ago, I was staring out of an oval window, watching the choppy water get shockingly close, and grabbing my armrest with one hand while the other hovered over the vomit bag in anticipation. Our descent into Sendai was paired with my co-worker’s story of the time when a captain on his flight announced they were going to make an emergency landing in water. That didn’t help.

I knew we would be okay; today was just a windy day. I still had white knuckles upon our arrival though, and I think it was less about bumpy landings than it was about anticipating powerful information and stories…and wondering if I was going to be helpful.

Slide from “Before and After the Disaster: Bounce Back or Bounce Forward?” by Dr. Peter Matanle, Senior Lecturer and Taught Post-Graduate Tutor in the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield

Diving deeper into Japan’s recent past

A river in Japan, 3 years after the Great East Japan EarthquakeOn March 11, 2014 at 2:46pm, I sat at my hotel room window looking out at the city of Hiroshima. I closed my laptop and watched three boys goof around by the river. For two minutes, I tried to feel the weight of an event I didn’t experience firsthand and empathize with the many who did. When I returned to my computer, I published a post announcing a trip to the north with a couple hard-working students and some passionate lifelong students.

Proposed and planned by our Global Studies teacher Nick Martino, we were going to visit one of the most devastated town in the region and make a mini-documentary about rebuilding and recovering. Students applied for positions on the team by writing about their interest in the topic and the skills they could offer.

The trip took place from April 10th – 15th and was made possible by the amazing guidance of fixer and friend Kaz Meiki, as well as the many people with which he connected us for interviews and opportunities to learn more. It was a meaningful experience that left an immediate impact, but the trip has lingered in the forefront of our minds ever since, along with a call to action that will not fade with the publication of the mini-documentary. Read More »

An earthquake challenges my understanding of reality

This is new to me, the earth swaying. There is no underground subway to blame for the foreignness beneath me. A sensation I’ve evaded until now finally caught me asleep and on a top floor. I tremble at the memory, at the tapping of my air freshener bottle in my closet, dangling from a coat hanger and moving in a disturbingly natural way.

From a state of unconsciousness to complete lucidity in three seconds, I sped to the realization that an earthquake challenges what I know to be true about my reality. A building trembling and swaying, a bathroom vibrating bottles off the counter, a need to brace myself between two beds…and none of this occurring on a ship, as I’ve experienced before. I was not at sea; I was very much on land.

Staring at the wall during an earthquake in Hiroshima, JapanI was so scared. Staring at a point on the wall where the wall radio can be adjusted, I didn’t know whether to expect falling dry wall or nightstands punching me in the arm…or nothing more than a momentary sensation of land pretending to be water. I don’t remember any other sounds than the tapping of the air freshener, tapping that lingered seemingly beyond the feathered end of the motion. I pulled the dangling bottle to the right, away from the wall, stopping the sound that was striking me like dinosaur footsteps in Jurassic Park. With the new silence, I stood in confusion and decided to sit by the door and text my brother.

“Is everyone okay?” I missed the mad dash down the fire escape from the top floor, one I assume I didn’t hear due to tunnel focus on closet tapping. “We are outside, the only ones.” Some remained quiet. Others made what seemed like the smart but cold option. I squeegeed two tears from my wide-open eyes with one hand while the other steadied my descent down the stairs.

I wasn’t ready to have motivational perspective on this event that still felt present and stunning. I wanted to be squeezed dry of my adrenaline and cradled on soft ground. It was a pregnant moment, an elephant gestation awaiting whatever additional shifts our plates were building up to, but part 2 and beyond were assumed minuscule and capable of sleeping through. I wasn’t ready to accept that period; it felt like a comma in disguise. Read More »

Exploring the haiku with Kyoto and Kerouac

The pile of Kleenex below me is one of the few pieces of evidence in my room indicating my recent adventures. Walking around the cold old capital of Japan last week left me with sniffles that make me self-conscious in this nation of face masks.

Lindsay on a boat outside of Kyoto, JapanI met Kyoto for a second time on Monday and enjoyed five days of exploration with students and teachers, one of those five days actually allowing for my own itinerary. I always carried my backpack, much to the dismay of my vertebrae, and that bag included my favorite travel accessory: my notebook.

One afternoon in the Gion neighborhood, I sat in a smokey coffee shop, sipping on a cup of cinnamon and roasted beans, and experimented with the haiku form. It’s not my favorite. You may notice I’m a little heavy on the words from time to time to time. Maybe sometimes, dare I say, bordering on redundant. Editing my words to meet a syllabic quota is a frustrating action, but I do believe it affords an extra look at word choice and allows for the multiple interpretations that I so love.

A couple days after this experimentation, I came across a book on Jack Kerouac’s haiku work, which I found surprising knowing his near stream-of-consciousness style in On the Road. I quickly learned he, and the rest of the Beat writers, were heavily influenced by Japan, more specifically the haiku and Zen Buddhism.

Kerouac considered the beauty of the form to be in the process of painting a single moment as simply as possible in three lines of text. He often wrote in “Western haiku” form, which didn’t follow a strict 5-7-5 syllable equation. Since I’m not a fan of a creative process that includes the frequent counting of fingers, I embraced this style and experimented yet again with the haiku, this time during a TGS club session called “Word.”

Students, teachers, and I sat by the river in Hiroshima today, all writing or creating on the topic of “friends,” our randomly picked inspiration of the day. Mine took the shape of the Western haiku and haven’t been edited beyond initial creation.

Laugh with whomever is
near and forgiving.
If not, why?

Sandcastles
return to nature
without hands

Read More »

Kyoto through the lens

Lindsay and a geisha in Kyoto, JapanI hardly remember traversing Kyoto in 2007. The only memories that arise in a moment of deep contemplation are steaming bowls of noodles, Hi-Chew candies, and stalking geishas.

Seven years later, I realize I was actually just stalking other tourists who paid to wear kimonos for the day. It’s pretty standard here to play dress-up in the old capital.

On this second time around, I was far more present, graciously taking in the nuggets of culture and classic sightings only Kyoto can dish out.

TGS enters the bamboo forest (Kyoto, Japan) Read More »

Sparked by a word and leaving it to the end

Garrett and Alexis in Aspen, ColoradoIt hurts me, pains me, but I love it. I do it too much and to such extremes. Scaling down by any measure would alleviate those directly-related pains and even those that occur as side effects…ripples.

It’s something I’ve trained for, feel born with an attitude and aptitude for, have developed strong passions for and a personality around. In its absence, I feel loss and incompleteness and greater pains than the ones it causes. It shapes the way I think about everything remotely related to it–turns me into a philosopher, a guru in a cave…in my own mind.

At times, my pursuit of it is visible, its manifestation unambiguous to all, exploration known and commented on; but not always, for its pursuit can be completely unapparent, invisible to the outsider, but the exploration can be just as strong, impactful, satiating, pain-reducing, and pain-pursuing.

I’ve made plans to pursue it forever, mostly because I’m powerless to it, the desire for it, and that feels better framed as an intentional choice than a wave that effortlessly overcomes whatever grip I have in the shifting sand. A happy surfer in pursuit of movement…

This piece was written during a creative writing session with some TGS students and teachers involved in the club called “Word.” During this weekly session, one word is chosen to spark inspiration for some form of expression. This week, the word “movement” inspired me to start at the bottom of a notebook page with the word and find my way to that conclusion without mentioning it on the way there. Read More »

Assume the world wants you to take risks, keep learning, and do what you love

My work life and personal life don’t just run in parallel; they are the same. It is as though my tree of personal life once swayed in a wind that carried with it a seed. That seed became a vine that began to wrap and envelope my tree, not in a parasitic way but in a mutually symbiotic relationship. The vine became one with my tree; they grew together and now cannot be separated without killing both.

MV Explorer in Kobe, Japan 2014The wind was Semester at Sea.

The seed was a love of travel.

The vine is now a career path stemming from travel (pun intended).

Oddly enough, when I focus on one of those elements, I forget about the other, either because they seem to be one or I have kid myself into thinking they are two. These two ponderings might seem mutually exclusive, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’m really wrangling my thoughts accurately at the moment. But this past weekend afforded me another time travel opportunity, one that kept surprising me when my professional side supplemented my personal side, and vice versa. These two elements made a stronger organism that managed to have a fulfilling journey through Japan.

The success of my past weekend was entirely depending on assumptions being true, and while I normally associate India with this kind of magic, Japan also proved it’s capable of aligning stars and turning assumptions into reality…of course, for a “slightly” larger fee.

My goodness, Shinkansen! You ‘spensive!

I assume I can get there.

Shinkansen bullet train headed to Tokyo, JapanThis past Saturday, there was an educational technology conference outside of Tokyo that I wanted to attend, even though I was not registered and not necessarily encouraged to go by all parties. I had no pre-booked trains or hotels. I had no assurance that my trip would be counted as worthwhile. Weekends are precious here, as completely free ones are few and far between.

I told my students I wasn’t going on their ski trip because I was heading home from school Friday to see if I could will a whole string of events to occur that would enrich me professionally. “I’m going on an adventchah’!” was my phrase of choice.

I might get stranded somewhere without a train ticket. I might not have a place to spend the night. I might not even leave the Hiroshima station at all!

Some colleagues (and one of the voices in my head) told me it wasn’t worth it, that potentially wasting a weekend in transit only to achieve nothing would be more pain than it’s worth. My old lady back agreed. I was also frustrated that it got to this point, that I had a conference weekend I’d known about for months for which I didn’t have confirmation.

Regardless, I listened to some encouraging impulse and put two sets of clothes and my computer in my Semester at Sea hiking backpack, stomping over to the Hiroshima train station in hopes of communicating that I wanted a ticket to Tokyo right now. No problem. Minutes later, I was shooting like a bullet through the spine of Japan. Read More »

Hours in transit are mental junk food

At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves – that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. p56

Lake in Hyderabad, IndiaI saw creamsicle orange indicating a sunset in a day dream state, and I realized I had spent an entire day moving but stationary, interacting with the world only enough to coexist but losing myself in the thoughts of life and safari animals.

I traveled from Cape Town to an annex of Kruger National Park, and I realized I was adult enough to be so consumed with my inner state to not need a physical distraction. While my day dreams do center around real world experiences, oddly I can go without that kind of interaction for hours, days, when I have the freedom to explore them mentally…in transit.

My body hates me, both in the mornings and on long trips, but my mind feasts on the time available because we haven’t yet figured out teleportation or time travel. Who would want to, when we have the mental capacity that we do…that we don’t even know how to train to be even more satiated.

My journeys are not regular, but they are long and constant. And when I do sit in motion, I sit with all the mental junk food I can handle: visions of my future life, anticipation of the destination, potential experiences or interactions that will litter my days and be the actual influence on my happiness. If bodies could move at the speed of sound, minds can move at the speed of light. Inception made that foggily clear.

This post is a writing exercise, prompted by a quote from The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. This was done in unison with my students at THINK Global School during a travel writing workshop. Read More »

A patchwork quilt of my Indian days

My third exploration of these Instagram collages is providing some great perspective on our time in India. Instagram images feel like highlights of daily joys, and usually a sum-up post of images from a place is a showcase of your best and most influential moments. Making a little visual quilt of the daily joys seems to weave the kind of fabric that makes sense to my mind and likely memorializes a place akin to how I will mentally.

Instagram-India-mosaic-big

(Inspiration. Click the image to view in a lightbox.) Read More »

A year of many extremes and many joys, that 2013

While my job expects me to make high quality media, I also enjoy using social media to share the daily small joys that often don’t get a glossy coating. Using Storify, I curated a story of the previous year from my various online venues, resulting in the most ground level reflection of my experiences through Bhutan, Boston, and Hyderabad.

The opinions stated in this post are mine and do not reflect the positions, strategies, or opinions of THINK Global School. Read More »

And then I became a teacher…

I don’t just mean TOEFL. 

From April to October in 2011, I went from contract work in production to holding a full blown post as a high school teacher at an international school. In that time period, I didn’t become more skilled or capable of performing this task. In fact, all I did was trek a bit in China, take some actors’ headshots, write some articles, and move to Ecuador. I accumulated no additional training; I only did frantic research and let my years of high school and university instruction resurface, willing cream to rise from freshly settled milk.

Like a good student of dance, I mirrored the teachers around me and tried my best to make our choreography match in the eyes of our pupils. Those pupils consisted of 26 international students who expected a high-quality, dynamic, innovative education in the realm of Creative Arts…from me.

Teacher? How’d that happen?

In July, after finding this new work opportunity, I signed on to document their goings-on around the world. I was to work in a similar capacity as my previous years, what I had plenty of on-the-job training and academic credentials to do. Poised with camera at eye, we headed to the Amazon rainforest on my birthday in September, after the first week of formal classes in Ecuador. When we returned to Cuenca, there was a recent opening in the no-man art department, and it was clear to me that the position would be filled internally. There were a couple moments in those first two weeks when I looked around the room of my colleagues, all of us nibbling on aji-slathered bread, and said:

You all know what’s about to happen, right? This isn’t about to be a guest lecture series or unclaimed time. You know why this is freaking me out, correct? This must be what Miss Cleo feels like.

Read More »

The time I took ten students to the
war-torn region of Kashmir
and they loved it

Autumn in Srinagar, Kashmir, IndiaTravel begets travel; it’s like a gambling habit with both immediately apparent and dormant benefits for the mind and spirit. As I’ve explained to many friends and family members, these experiences do not satiate some hungry beast that can eventually become full. Travel doesn’t get out of your system. Each experience can inspire a realization of the possibility of infinitely more experiences.

We clutch our wallets and apologize, pinch our passports and determine the need for more pages, and assure our parents that with experience comes considerable strength to handle what the world bowls our way. Travel begets travel, sometimes begrudgingly and often with too much enthusiasm to weather as a mere human being.

I know this to be true after being semi-nomadic for the better part of six years. Upon my first study abroad in Italy and a concurrent fascination with photographing trash cans, I realized I was in this for the long haul and that it wasn’t going to taper off.

I moved on from photographing the beautifully mundane to being obsessed with travel narratives and firsthand experiences of people in other parts of the world. That was my predominant reading material throughout junior and senior year of university. With Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, a seed was planted to visit a spectacular mountain range atop a country I only briefly encountered. Those 304 pages predetermined a windy road–through 13 countries in Europe and 6 in Africa–toward the disputed region of Kashmir where I got my fix of the rooftop of the world.

How I arrived in Kashmir

Kashmir, India in October 2008 during curfewIn October 2008, I was five months into a solo trip around the world as a fresh graduate of higher education. The previous location of Lusaka, Zambia treated me harshly, and I approached India with a visible distrust in others and misguided need to micro-manage my trip with a day-to-day itinerary.

Within two days of being in hot and sticky Delhi, I booked a bus ticket to Manali to escape the uncomfortable chaos. The following is a journal excerpt from the morning before my 18-hour bus ride; I was purchasing food for the journey: Read More »

A journey back to north India, a mind running in place

My former self of grade school age and oversized-shirt fashion sense would have never fathomed my first solo flight at 12 to Tallahassee would expand into a lifestyle of making the unfamiliar familiar. I remember having the realization that not everyone speaks English in this world, and I have to admit that other similar social realizations did not come that long ago.

Meeters and greeters sign in Telugu and Hindi, Hyderabad, IndiaI don’t know how life deals me these unexpected realities, but last week, for the third time, I lugged my backpack around north India in pursuit of culture, adventure, and untampered water bottles. My nomadic high school of employment booked an 8-day trip to the cities of Amritsar, Delhi, Agra, and Bhopal, and I joined half of our students on a journey of planes, trains, and auto rickshaws. This time, I was better equipped with shirts that covered my backside and the confidence necessary to tromp through traffic made by engines and animals.

On this trip, I had someone else’s experience to focus on: that of my students. This was their first big trip away from their host school for the term and debatably their first encounter with “real” India, however that can be found or defined. On Friday afternoon, after trying to squeeze 60 learners into a classroom and multiple meetings in the space for one, we loaded bags and bodies onto a bus headed for the airport. After temporarily unleashing a bunch of nomads into their natural environment – an airport terminal – and enjoying some seat back entertainment in the form of old Bollywood music videos, we landed in a dark Amritsar and arrived to a moist hotel room.

So far, all awesome. Read More »

With pocket money and a rickshaw, some kids discover Hyderabad

Dragonflies low and two more slide on the grass,
staying close to comfort as we wait for the rain.
The grass is squeaky like clean hair,
a putting green on a severe incline.
We surround architecture that implies reverence
but are given no guidelines for behavior.
So what do we do?
We talk. We eat. We laugh and revert to childlike games
as the moment represents discovery.

View from atop Charminar, Hyderabad, India

Bouncing like a pinball in an auto rickshaw,
Hyderabad is our palette and our canvas and a master copy.
One “teacher” and four more of ten years difference
make calls to pursue the grounds where people roam
and frequent in their daily grind.
Market, food, nature,
market, food, revelry.
We pursue the people who embody the culture of focus,
giving mental context to the context of history. First faces. Read More »

I want to teach under a bodhi tree.

Today, I lost my mind at lunch, blamed it on the full moon, and called myself a witch. Unfortunately, when I get frazzled, it’s clear to everyone, including those that probably nudged me into this mental state. I’m transparent, open, and too easily affected by what happens in the classroom.

Looking over David's shoulder as he crafts some #travel #writing about #IndiaI woke enthused to talk about manifestos in newMedia Lab. In the morning, I went from connected and inspired by my students from the usually reticent class to pulling teeth and begging for focus with my often conceptual class.

What was the difference? I could swear it was something as simple as the room we were in, but I hope not. That would mean our ideal isn’t the ideal.

I hope that at the school that initially prided itself on having no walls has not grown to operate most efficiently within a box of construction material. Are we too easily distracted by the world around us to develop any meaningful understandings about the world on which we can meditate?

Where are my students that can focus in the circle of shade under a bodhi tree and listen, represent authentic thought, and build on experience to some unique and productive end? A moment with that kind of class gives all this meaning.

Even if there’s an opportunity to be flexible with our learning environment, would it still be productive time? Or are we slaves to routine over creative opportunism? Why does learning happen when we put on blinders?

Or maybe that’s not the reality. Maybe the lack of engagement in that second Lab had everything to do with my delivery, my shot-in-the-dark attempt to instruct a group of global kids. Read More »

What is evidence of good travel?

Indian countrysideDreary and fresh, a serene landscape
also harbors dog fights and political types
In these stretches of land,
there’s always a market for chai,
for petrol, for John Deere tractor rentals
Through these veins flows a bus,
“White Lightning,” filled with fresh and/or
glazed perspectives, depending on attitude,
depending on where we find ourselves
in the cyclical temperament
descriptive of a traveler…

We blur past a single pink house,
sitting alone and waiting
for community expansion,
which may or may not be possible,
from the looks of these sweeping fields of crops
Owned by whom? Which feed whom? Clearly harvested by hand,
three elderly spines bend in the shadows of volcanic plateaus,
but no volcano.

Hot, seasoned woks work all day long at plastic chair cafes
Forks in roads and rivers make great meeting locations
Though seemingly far from residences and commerce, the arching awning
in front shades a resting gaggle of motorbikes in transit.

Andhra Pradesh (Telangana), Karnataka, and Maharashtra are
my regional canvases of mystery material.
Women’s faces I can not see, tightly wrapped for the motorbike journey
A multi-tone horn flutters wildly as the bedazzled truck blazes by
I’m in India, and I’m in the fetal position. Read More »

After three weeks in India, I finally feel like I’m traveling.

Sunset from Mokilla, AP, IndiaFlickers of lightning are faint but always to the left of my aim toward the horizon. They provide an additional layer of drama to my nighttime ride home from the city of Hyderabad. I booked a taxi with the help of a Hindi-speaking friend, someone whom I quickly and liberally offered my trust purely on the grounds of intuition.

Hair still wrapped from a previous motorbike ride, I hope it helps me evade any potential disturbance I’ve been warned about, regardless of how secure I feel with being in a taxi at 8pm in the countryside. My iPhone low in my lap, I text my new friend to say that my limited Hindi and our common ground of “right, left, and straight” have brought me back to where I’m living for the next four months.

The wheels of my plane hit a rainy runway on August 12th, but it was only on the first of September that I felt the sensation of travel. It coincided with when I fully accepted being completely out of my comfort zone; I was 95% vulnerable and guarded just enough to remain strong.

Three weeks of work on a remote boarding school campus have been fruitful in different ways but not for a sense of discovery. Discovery is necessary for all, and I think we often mistake it for travel as is. Discovery needs to be regularly pursued, especially when you’re merely displaced.

As I sit in the back of this taxi, I replay the events of my afternoon and attempt to identify the causes of my current emotional cocktail: gratitude, awe, and mild anxiety. Read More »

Q&A: traveling after graduation – live chat!

Send in your questions, too!

QuestionHi Lindsay,

I just wanted to drop you a line and say hello! We had chatted a bit before, but I just wanted to let you know that I admire your love for travel and your pursuit of that passion. I will be graduating from undergrad at Columbia in a couple of weeks and would love to hear your thoughts on graduating and how you thought about pursuing travel as a career/intense hobby after graduation. I know I won’t have winter and spring breaks to escape to the jungle or dazzling cities, but I would certainly hope to continue to do so somehow.

I hope you are well! Wishing you all the best for wherever you may be. -Natalia

AnswerNatalia, thanks so much for your message, and I’d be happy to chat with you about graduation and travel! I propose a Google Hangout on July 18th, 2013 at 1:00 pm EST between you and me that can air live on YouTube for anyone else to check out and participate in. We can create a hashtag like #nmwchat to enable other questions for either of us from others.

Read More »

Q&A: how to document experiences remotely

Send in your questions, too!

QuestionHey Lindsay! Wow – I just wanted to say… I come back and check out what you’ve been up to every few months or so, and I am always amazed by you. I’ve followed you from WTI, through your Fiji project, Project Explorer, and now as you continue in your amazing job that I am so jealous of (truly the coolest job in the world, and obviously a great fit for you!)

I’ve been fascinated to see the things you are working on and see how you somehow get better and better at everything you do.

Recently I started working for a nonprofit that facilitates international exchange. Sadly, I’m not quite traveling the world like you – we are based in the States and facilitate tons of professional exchange and experiential learning programs both coming into the U.S. and Americans going abroad – but I am trying to up our game in the communications and social media realms. I think the work you are doing is going to prove as a real inspiration in that area!

One thing I am hoping to do is be able to create some great videos like these you’ve made for THINK. It’s hard because I have few opportunities to capture raw footage myself – only when a program happens to be somewhere nearby like D.C., but I want to get practicing! What kind of programs and equipment do you use? ANY tips you could offer would be so great. I know you’ve spent thousands of hours perfecting your craft just in the area of filmmaking – like I said, I have watched and read about your growth! I also know you are crazy busy, but I’d greatly appreciate any insights or lessons learned you have.

Thanks and best of luck! And next time you’re in the Baltimore/DC area – let me know! :) -Rachael T.

AnswerRachael, when I receive questions like this, it makes me really happy that we’ve developed a course at my work that allows me to teach these sort of things. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I’m flattered you’ve kept up with my progression for so long! I know I put it out there on this platform, but the reminders that people are listening are always necessary in order to keep me sharp.

I love the sound of your organization! It’s a thrill to hear you think we’re doing well with social media marketing at TGS. In the same way that the school is an experiment in education, everything we are doing with social media is an experimentation based on new ways of communicating and what seems fun. I recently heard David Karp, Founder of Tumblr, say: “Don’t grasp what’s new if you’re not going to enjoy it.” I felt like that connected with my personal work as well as how we approach communication at TGS. Maybe that connects with you and your work as well.

I read your questions and interpreted the following: you want ideas for filmmaking when your work budget doesn’t allow the globe-trotting necessary to film it yourself and gear/filmmaking tips in general. Hope that’s what you were getting at. I want to approach this situation conceptually first and then reference filming tips and gear ideas. Read More »

The irony of my lifestyle, part 5

Allow me to perplex you with a seemingly disjointed introduction to a post about travel and home.

Sand castle magicThese wet rocks where the tide has been,
Barnacled white and weeded brown
And slimed beneath to a beautiful green,
These wet rocks where the tide went down
Will show again when the tide is high
Faint and perilous, far from shore,
No place to dream, but a place to die,–
The bottom of the sea once more.
There was a child that wandered through
A giant’s empty house all day,–
House full of wonderful things and new,
But no fit place for a child to play.

– Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1921

Born a landlocked being, I am entranced by the ocean and great bodies of water, the moon’s force on their water levels, the great winds that dishevel and free, the overwhelming sense of infinity in the sand, the salt, the facets of waves, and the way the coast transforms itself twice a day with the coming of the tide. When equipped with a car and an unchained week, I follow the coast in search of nothing but more of it. When afforded time in between to refresh, I flock to a part of the Earth that makes me feel so much, so simply.

Based on my first big trips in childhood, you’d think the coast is what sparked the wanderlust that dictates my entire lifestyle to date. But I’m starting to believe there’s a more complex and …how you say, “witch-esque” connection. I hope you’re ready for this thick application of thought.

What keeps me traveling?

Golf-carting Water Island in the US Virgin IslandsIt seems implied through five years of lifestyle evidence that I first choose to be nomadic, that I prefer to live without a fixed base. And from this mental foundation, it seems I chose to snatch up this nomadic job, one that works like a perpetual travel-for-work scenario of paid transit, per diem, and accommodation. For a young professional with no immediate familial obligation, this seems like the sweetest deal.

Travel the world and get paid to do it. No roots. No obligation. No stress.

If we perceive a job to be only that which appears on the advertisement (and, for that matter, economic theory to be based on a world of rational beings), that perception is right on the money with my current living needs.

Instead of this perception being completely true, in this world we have air friction, hidden fees, ulterior motives, and conflicting forces out the wazoo. There is not only a chance of irrational thinking in the marketplace but an expectation of it for the majority of personal purchases. We do not live in a vacuum. And unfortunately in this scenario, I have a great job but also untamable human urges that can’t be ignored because I’m on the road.

In short, regardless of what makes economic sense, having no base is not ideal for me right now. Read More »

A patchwork quilt of my Boston days

I found this idea while in Buenos Aires and used it to memorialize my little life in the Argentine capital. I tried it out again with the beautiful city and experience of Boston, MA.

Instagram Boston mosaic

(Inspiration. Click the image to view in a lightbox.) Read More »

Attending my first opening night via the interwebs

Everything about my first photography exhibition was fitting.

  • It took place in my hometown.
  • It took place in the community center that could be credited for the start of my global knowledge and interest.
  • It was a digital display, the medium in which I create.
  • I displayed images in an order that reflected my life philosophy.
  • The images represented all the continents I’ve been fortunate enough to experience.
  • The gallery was named after my late grandfather.
  • I attended the opening night virtually.
  • My best friend did the technical support to help me experience the night from my apartment in Boston.

 

First photography exhibition in Wabash, Indiana attending via Skype, virtually, Honeywell Center

Image courtesy of Amy Sullivan

Thought it wasn’t my first choice to attend virtually, it was my only realistic option, as I was deeply embedded in school on May 1st, the day of the event. But this was a big moment for me, a first exhibition for an “art major” and with deep significance in location at that. I wanted to be able to absorb these factors viscerally and emerge from the experience enriched and with the sense that I had finally exhibited work always meant for others’ eyes.

After filming a long innovation meeting at work, I raced from the classrooms to my apartment in Beacon Hill. Boston Common was orange with slanting light. My friend Hayley Skyped me in about 30 minutes before the event started, to avoid any technical-bumble when it was my time to speak. In the search for a good backdrop with good lighting, I landed on the view from my apartment window: the State House at sunset. As people filed into the gallery, they could see the sun setting over Boston’s golden dome on the projector before them. Gallery manager Andrea Zwiebel began introducing the exhibition and started the 3-artist Q&A with me (while the internet was still working), and I slid into place in front of the State House image, appearing in real time but not in real life. Here is my portion as I experienced it virtually.

People looked like blobs. I could only decipher the words of the person closest to the computer. But I was thrilled the Internet made this possible, as it continues to do for my work day in, day out. Read More »

From Chelsea to Chinatown, a walk inspires words

B Bar in NYCNanny sings sweetly;
he’s got fingers in his ears.
A beautiful day outdoors brings out the
caretakers and production crews.
Bright colors, grunge with gazes,
everyone beelines, moseys, and co-exists.
Writers, poets, creators reveal that we are
here to mine ourselves for the
building materials of bridges between beings.
Bites are packed with fresh,
tea like honey sunsets.
I’m in Italy by the beach,
edging closer to the spices.
I want to bite through it all,
in one motion sink my teeth
passed layers of complementary experiences.
Vacation is when watery, oily, acidic
juices are plowed with crusty bread,
where butter comes in clumps and
goes down in littler ones, flavor bombs,
when you have time to pour the second
cup of honey with a punch of rose.
Aimless and timeless, there might be
no other method to managing a day for you. Read More »

Tweeting up a storm at an innovation conference

On April 23rd and 24th, I received the chance to attend a stellar conference by the only print magazine I have cared to look at in the last decade: Fast Company. A co-worker turned me onto Fast Co. on the flight to Bhutan, and it has since been a continuous source of inspiration for the newMedia Lab and media work at TGS in general.

Sometimes working at a school that boasts innovation as its middle name leaves me feeling stale and inadequate for my role. “I haven’t done anything new and exciting lately! I’m not ahead of the curve!” This conference looked to be the remedy and something that would benefit all facets of my job, from looking at teaching and learning differently to spreading our name like wildfire.

Wordle: UntitledThe conference failed to disappoint. They provided a printed, wire-bound agenda for note-taking, but I was simultaneously shooting great quotes from the speakers up onto Twitter. The hashtag #IUNY13 was lively and often revealed comments I missed or didn’t quite wrap my mind around the first time. In this instance, I think my experience was heightened by this digital engagement. I submitted my tweet text to Wordle and got this interesting word cloud to visualize what I reflected upon. Click on the image to see it bigger (requires Java). Read More »

What I would happily quote from Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind

My reading habits have slowed considerably in the last couple years, and I’m not excited by this self-realization. Especially since I focus heavily on the return on investment of reading, I know that a book will likely spark life-spinning advice and ideas at which I would have otherwise never arrived.

Not only am I disappointed in my frequency of reading sessions but in the heel-dragging I’ve done about pursuing books that continue to reveal themselves as valuable and relevant. In 2008, I learned about Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind from the father at my nannying job. Not one to chase fruitless endeavors, I knew he was recommending a quality read, especially since the recommendation came after the gushing of my worldview.

Well, four and a half years and innumerable reminders later, I have finally checked this book off my “To Read” list. The following are the sections I highlighted and mused about in the margins, many of which I found to be unique sentences, others quite relevant to the constant questions I ponder at work.

In order to better grasp the context of these quotes, keep in mind that Pink considers there to be six fundamental human abilities that will make the right brainers rule the world: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

Excerpts worth quoting or noting

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink“All that stuff that the right hemisphere does–interpreting emotional content, intuiting answers, perceiving things holistically–is lovely. But it’s a side dish to the main course of true intelligence.” p16

“Written language, invented by the Greeks around 550 B.C.E., has helped reinforce left hemisphere dominance (at least in the West) and created what Harvard classicist Eric Havelock called ‘the alphabetic mind.'” p17

“…most developed nations have devoted considerable time and treasure to producing left-brained knowledge workers. This arrangement has been a rousing success. It has broken the stranglehold of aristocratic privilege and opened educational and professional opportunities to a diverse set of people.” p29

“Only against a backdrop of abundance could so many people seek beautiful trash cans and toilet brushes–converting mundane, utilitarian products into objects of desire.” p33 Read More »

Spring Break: the tropical one where I kept saying “What are the chances?”

I booked my ticket to St. Thomas a week prior to going, and one hour after I confirmed my flight, my friend from high school posted a photo of his current view from the same island. This friend, Merlin (the one person I always feel most likely to run into around the world), was in Boston for the weeks prior to this posting, but our schedules conflicted and resulted in never meeting.

By complete chance, we both ended up on the same flight to St. Thomas a week later (after he returned to Boston only to realize his mistake and turned right back around). Not only that, but the night before we were both staying on the same block in Boston, unaware of the other’s location beforehand.

It was a very relaxing and gorgeous “Spring Break” trip with a high school catch-up, homemade Easter brunch, and a quick jaunt to two other U.S. Virgin Islands. This is the storified version of my trip via social media.

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At the MIT Media Lab doing some learning on our slow American internet

My “Spring Break 2013″ does not yet resemble Harmony Korine’s visions of debauchery, but I’ve been enjoying this week, one unlike the usual work week. I decided that during this two-week break from school, I would relax in Boston and then use the second week to get closer to the sun.

During this Boston-based break week, I’ve been getting back in touch with this ole blog-o-mine, photography, and activities I rarely enjoy at work, like reading or going to events around the city. Though my attempt to see an advanced screening at a cool, old movie theater didn’t pan out, I was successful in attending a speaker event at MIT’s Media Lab.

You’d think I’d have done ample research already on a program/building attached to a snazzy institution that bears a similar name to my own course. Nay, I have had no time to do such frivolous, awesome things. I’ve made it into the MIT buildings, to film Noam and all, but the Media Lab was impressive…almost an operational exhibition of innovation in the making. My jealousy was raging.

I wasn’t just wandering aimlessly this afternoon in the Media Lab; I was there to see a speaker and witness an anal-retentive production team in action. Whoa, that was a meticulous sound check. They produced a webcast that ran live online, but I felt like testing out my own webcasting abilities with Ustream.tv. Check out the conversation below on regulation and access to the Internet by Susan Crawford, author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.



Nomadderwhere’s video streaming by Ustream

New tools. New capabilities. New information. Just trying to keep up with my mini-manifesto! Read More »

A reason to re-examine the definition of Nomadderwhere

I was recently reviewing my explanation of the term “nomadderwhere”…ya know, for kicks, because that’s what I do on Spring Break. Or, more accurately, I was looking for more meaning to go behind the sequence of my images for a photo exhibition.

I began with the image I loved the most, because it’s the latest creation. The rest fell into place based on the whim of my finger at that moment. Whatever reasoning determined was reconsidered with the next pass of the eyes.

This exhibition being my first–and at a significant location for me–I have a strong desire to make all decisions with intention.

The initial definition

And so, I went to my original post on the definition of nomadderwhere. It goes a little something like this:

A nomad never stops. A nomad moves and continues to flex their idea of home and comfort. A nomad doesn’t settle on one way of thinking or one surrounding. It’s a lifestyle of adaptation and life-long learning. Read More »

Ten things my Instagram feed says about my February

1. I was able to seize a great opportunity to hear Al Gore speak (fo’ free!) at Harvard University. Always love a chance to hear troubling data about the planet in a Southern accent. That experience turned out to be the start of many great speakers in February, including two BBC World journalists, the exiled prince of Iran, and Al Gore’s former domestic policy advisor. Now to make sense of it all.

2. I’ve enjoyed using social media to mock social media with my students.

Read More »

Help me prepare for my first travel photography exhibition

Hello readers,

From May 1st to June 2nd, I will be exhibiting some of my travel photography in a location that is very special to me. Not only will this be my first photography exhibition at a gallery, but the gallery is the Clark Gallery, in honor of my late grandfather Clark, whom I never had the chance to meet.

The Clark Gallery lives inside my town’s focal point, the Honeywell Center. As I’ve mentioned in many anecdotes, without the Honeywell Center, I wouldn’t have known that other cultures and opportunities existed…and therefore wouldn’t be where I am today.

This exhibition entitled “Far, Far Away” is a chance for some people in Wabash, Indiana to see destinations and cultures they otherwise might never see. Additionally, all the images were taken by people who claim Wabash as their hometown, adding a layer of accessibility to the images. The other person sharing the space with me will be showing many images from Antarctica. Just amongst the two of us, our images will span all seven continents!

Embedded below is a Flickr set of the images I’ve selected thus far. My images will be displayed digitally on a TV screen in the gallery, which makes my selection and the cost of exhibition much easier as I work remotely. I’m also creating a printed catalog that will sit next to the TV with image thumbnails, a mini-map pointing to the location of the photo, and a QR code connecting to the back story of that image.

I’m interested in knowing which images are impactful and effective for you! Feel free to leave comments and give me direction of what I should include or exclude in this exhibition. Are you particularly curious about seeing image from any of these countries specifically? And what information could be provided in order to fulfill what you want to know about the images or moments depicted?

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A week in Washington D.C. and my notebook looks like this

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A little valentine for my dear, sweet Buenos Aires

Not only was this the longest time I’ve lived in an international city, it also happened to be a culture I fully embraced. Our impending departure pricked me in the last week, drawing up thick sentiment I could only process through creation. What could I make that would facilitate a meditation on a city that showed me a wonderful time?

Prior to our first and only asado, I splayed out on my bed in a square of warm light and began a graphic design project, one that mimicked the Ork-style posters that fit neighborhood names into their map locations. My idea was to one day to share it with our porteño friends who introduced us Fernet, cooked us asados, danced with us until 7am, and invited us into their family homes. They made us feel so welcome and entertained, and all I felt I could provide in return were some digital bits and bobs. Of course, there’s always the hope they journey to America and are in need of an enthusiastic tour guide!

Two months after leaving, I’ve finally completed this graphic project to share with all of them…and you, dear reader. Other colors and styles are likely to follow, but here are two such posters in both white and black. Click the image to download one for yourself.

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