Tell us a bit about yourself! Why do you love travel? How do you think travel unites us or teaches us more about the world?
I love to travel mostly to satisfy my own curiosity. Travel teaches us more about the world, yes, but I also think it teaches us a lot about ourselves, which empowers us to be better people and to positively transform the world we live in. Without travel, thugs like Duterte and Trump come to power—I think people need to travel more!
What surprising aspect of culture do you love about where you’re from (your specific town/city) that travelers may not be aware of?
I grew up in St. Louis, a city in the middle of the country most foreign travelers miss. What many people don’t realize is that 100 years ago, St. Louis was one of America’s most important cities. The Olympics was there, and so was the “World’s Fair.” St. Louis is therefore home to some of the most impressive turn-of-the-century architecture in the U.S., including Lafayette Square and Forest Park, to say nothing of the wealth of museums, cuisine and cultural diversity in the city.
Which dish do you feel best represents where you’re specifically from? Share a picture and tell us why you love it!
St. Louis is famous for a few things, cuisine-wise, but my favorite is St. Louis-style Pizza. It’s served at local pizzeria Imos on a flat, flaky crusty, with special “provel” cheese, which is a blend of provolone and some other cheese. I don’t have any images of this, but I’m sure one exists in creative commons.
Share about a custom/tradition you observe, and talk about the role of family in your life. What does family mean to you?
Honestly, a lot of my life has been about overcoming my family and making peace with my childhood. I know that sounds terrible, but my upbringing was really difficult, due to my parents’ marital problems and their individual personality issues. Family is mainly important to me in the context of the fact that I managed to become a well-rounded person in spite of mine, but certainly not because of it I’m sad to say.
Art and dance can tell a deeper story about local culture. Tell us the story of a specific artwork or dance that has a meaning for you.
In addition to the more esoteric matters that underlie my answer to the previous question, one thing that always frustrated me growing up was the minimal importance given to art as I was growing up. On the other hand, several members of my family are artistically inclined, and their cultivation of these talents has helped me to see them in a new light. For example, my mother has started a business crocheting various items, and my sister makes gorgeous succulent plant arrangements.
Languages not only give us the power to communicate but also can unite us across cultures. Share a favorite saying you have, or teach us something in your native language.
My favorite saying is actually one I saw on a wall in Vietnam—I can only take credit for passing it on, not for creating it. It’s “Jump, a net will appear.”
Have you ever met a stranger – while traveling – who made an impact on your life? Share the story!
The majority of my adult life has been shaped by interactions with strangers, for better or for worse. Let’s leave it at that. 😉