Archive | June, 2011
National Flag of Spain

On an exchange, you can’t retreat

San Miguel Church

San Miguel Church, Andujar, Spain - Image by asmythie via Flickr


“Definitely do an exchange. It’s worth the money.  It’s worth the time. It’s worth the effort.  Nothing, no experience in the United States, not even going to live in rural town wherever they speak purely Spanish–it’s not the same experience, because you’re still in your home country.

“When you go on an exchange you can’t retreat.

You’re there and you have to deal with everything.  And I think that’s something that we don’t learn on our home turf.

That’s maybe why I felt so strong.  I had learned how to deal with things face on.

Audio Clip:

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“I can’t think of any good reason for somebody not to go on an exchange. I really can’t.  It just shows so much about yourself.  It teaches you so much about yourself, and you get the added benefit of learning about someplace else.  I think we don’t know enough about other places and other people.  I don’t think we know enough about ourselves, especially not when you’re in high school.

“High school is very self-absorbing, and exchange is also self-absorbing, but that can’t be the only thing you look at, because your issues aren’t necessarily personal.  They’re dealing with the toilet.  They’re dealing with how they do laundry.  They’re dealing with everything.

Everything that you ever knew to be true about your personal habits is proven to you to be not.

You learn that not everybody recycles.  That red doesn’t always mean the hot water is gonna turn on that way.  You learn that you aren’t the one who has to sweep up.  But maybe you’re the one who has to wipe the tables.

You take on a different role. And you — it’s still you.  It’s just parts of you that nobody ever asked you to exercise before.”

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The art of the interview



I came across this great video of Marc Pachter entitled “The Art of the Interview.”  He did a project for the National Portrait Gallery and shares the story of the impact of living portraits (oral history).


1.   ENERGY is key to the best interviews, you want the life force to come through

2.   Everyone has a story worth sharing

3.   Don’t interview someone who is modest, they have to think that they did something and they want to share it with you

4.   Don’t talk beforehand because you won’t get it on the stage

5.   Empathy – everybody in their lives is waiting for people to ask them questions so they can be truthful about who they are and how they became what they are



National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery, image by afagen via Flickr

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Flag of Sweden

Modesty on a Swedish beach

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The first day I got there, they asked me, “Would you like to go for a swim?”

So, of course, I went in my room and changed into my suit and put on a t-shirt and shorts and stuff, my towel.  I remember walking out and they were all standing there like they had been waiting, like, “What took you so long?

Landskrona Citadel, Sweden

Landskrona Citadel, Sweden, Image via Wikipedia

What?  I was just changing into my suit.  But you can probably see where this is going.  We walked down to the water, and they never, ever, ever change before!  Everybody just changes on the beach and not in a cabana or anything.  You just change right there without even really covering up.  So that was hard to get used to.

I remember being like, Ooh! That’s why they thought it took me a while!

And they thought that I was weird that I would want to change before I walked down, like, why would you do that? Of course you just bring your suit.

And they always changed right back into their clothes as soon as they got out of the water, right there on the beach.  You don’t go home in your sopping wet suit, of course, you just change into your clothes.  Why wouldn’t you? I mean, older people, younger people, the topless was everywhere, and that’s just normal.

Steve: Did you ever get used to that?

Shari: I never did it myself, I never got past it for myself.

My host sister, Lotta, would just parade around house just in underpants, and like sit there shaving her legs in the nude in the room and just be talking.  Dad would come in, and would ask her a question, and she would just say “Hi dad”, you know, whatever.  They just don’t even see it.  It’s not anything sexy or provocative.  It’s just normal.

So the modesty was hard.  It was a big shocker for me.

Flag of Peru

Haworth, NJ, 1986 Pierce Arrow



1986 Pierce Arrow fire truck from Haworth, NJ







Help me ship this to Peru!  Has 20,000 miles.



Español: Catedral de Arequipa

Image via Wikipedia









Chief Daniel Sheridan, of Mutual Aid Americas ( is helping to fully load this baby and donate it to my friends in Arequipa.  How cool is that?

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Return trip to Peru canceled!

Unfortunately I had to cancel my trip to Peru this month. I am going back to graduate school at Rutgers to get my Masters in Education for Social Studies.

Then, with a little luck, I will land a job as a secondary social studies teacher!

Official Seal of Rutgers University

Image via Wikipedia


Time to raise money

Arequipa (Peru), August 2007

Image via Wikipedia

It looks like I’ll need to raise about $15,000 to buy a used firetruck in mint condition and ship it — fully loaded – to Arequipa, Peru.