Posts with Category Travel

7 things I learned traveling with 7 co-eds in Guatemala

I traveled with 7 awesome co-eds from Winthrop University. I was the only dude on the trip. Here’s what I learned:

1) If I don’t wear my glasses, I almost look like I could be in college…if it weren’t for my hair line.

2) The Oakley’s that I’ve had for a decade are out of style, while the fluorescent Ray-Bans from my youth are back.

3) I’m old enough to be a college freshman’s father.

4) Girls spend less time trying to be cool and more time laughing and snorting. For instance, if you throw in a couple of dudes, we probably wouldn’t have had a 100% participation rate in singing along to cheesy 80s videos at a pizza place in Antigua.

5) Seeing with your heart is more important than…

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Freshman finds that beauty lies in poverty in Guatemala

Callan. Posting this to use with her guest blog.This guest post is brought to you by Callan Gaines, a sophomore at Winthrop University and one of seven students who traveled with Kelly Campbell of the Village Experience and me to Guatemala. She’s an artist studying interior design and has a laugh that can be heard over the zip of a zip line.

Her post reminds me of something designer Bibi Russell told me in Bangladesh: “Beauty lies in poverty.”

When traveling abroad, it is awesome how much you can learn about yourself and this incredible world we have.

My first trip abroad was to the beautiful Latin American country of…

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Men study abroad and volunteer less than women

I’m on a trip with Winthrop University in Guatemala. I’m the only dude.

A few theories as to why this is the case:

1. This trip arranged and led by Kelly Campbell at the Village Experience was billed as a trip with Kelsey Timmerman, and the ladies love me.

2. I’m told that about 70% of the students enrolled in Winthrop are girls. So that means our group of 7 would only have to have two dudes to strike the right proportion.

3. Dudes suck.

Yeah, so number one is ridiculous, but I had to say it. Guatemala is the big seller here.

We’re left with a combination of 2 and 3.

I think what we’re witnessing here, and what I witness visiting countless universities, and volunteering in my community…

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Traveling with Students in Guatemala

The other day I was digging through some old writing goals–circa 2005.  One of the questions that I attempted to answer was, “What is the greatest good my writing can accomplish?

My answer went something like this:

“To introduce readers to people they wouldn’t normally meet, places they wouldn’t normally go, and issues they wouldn’t normally think about.” 

I’m so honored to get to do this from the page and stage.  Now, thanks to a partnership with The Village Experience, I’m on a trip in Guatemala with students from Winthrop University who read WHERE AM I WEARING? as their freshmen common reader experience.  Over the course of the next week we’ll meet garment workers, coffee farmers, and visit fair trade cooperatives.

For many of…

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Chugging Budweiser in China

Budweiser: It’s the King of Beers.

Good thing, too, because if the beer world was a democracy, we’d surely elect another, better-tasting, beer to be our leader. But, alas, Budweiser is American as Levi’s (made in Cambodia) and Coca-Cola. In places like, China it is imported. Yes, China sends us computers and we send them our subpar beer.

I saw this dude chugging a Bud atop Shanghai’s Pearl Tower

Budweiser in China

What the strangest place you’ve seen someone chugging a Bud?

I visited Shanghai to research my new book WHERE AM I EATING?AN ADVENTURE THROUGH THE GLOBAL FOOD ECONOMY, which comes out April 22nd (Earth Day)! Over the next five weeks I’ll be sharing new photos, videos, and stories from…

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Pope’s don’t quit

In 2001, I attended a service at the Vatican hosted by Pope John Paul II. (Every Tuesday he was at the Vatican, he conducted a service open to a general audience.) The thing I remember most is just how feeble the man was, how much effort every word and step took, and because of that effort how much more each one inspired the crowd. Despite the pain, the Pope didn’t quit. He never did.

He was shot and didn’t quit. Instead he visited his attempted assassin in prison. In 2001, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and suffered from severe osteoarthritis. He didn’t quit. He “poped” for another four years.

This is what puzzles me about Pope Benedict saying that his strength “has deteriorated…to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

A Pope hasn’t retired in 600 years. There’s more to this story than the Catholic Church is telling the public.

Somewhere Dan Brown is writing a future bestseller involving the Pope’s Butler stealing documents and the Pope resigning less than a year later.

In honor of the Pope hanging up his mitre, I dusted off this piece I wrote in 2005 about seeing Pope John Paull II in person.

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A year in travel: There and back again


(An unexpected leg of a bus trip in Burkina Faso)

 The first time I stepped into a developing country was in 2001 in Thailand. I was wide-eyed. My senses were overloaded. Everything was new, everything was different.

The more you travel, the less you see.

You get used to being the odd man out, and seeing odd things. I don’t think I’ve ever become jaded by travel, but I think it takes a bit more to make me awestruck, to register on my sense of wonder meter. So I was thrilled and honored to travel with students from West Texas A&M to Honduras. Seeing them seeing the world for the first time was definitely one of my…

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Octogenarian Threatens to Kick My Ass on Plane

I don’t recline my seat on airplanes. I don’t hold it against people who do, but I just don’t do it. It’s a point of pride and my way of showing a little Midwestern spatial respect.

So when I felt the jab to the back of my arm, I thought the person behind me accidentally bumped me. When I felt it again, I turned around to see a man in his 80s who looked more than a little like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld.

“Stop leaning back,” the man said in a weak, gravelly whisper. “You’re hitting my laptop!”

“I’m just sitting here,” I said. “My seat isn’t even reclined.”

Okay, I probably should have apologized even though I did nothing wrong other than shift my…

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A note from a 20-year-old cocoa farmer to his parents

One of the most soul-shaking experiences I’ve ever had started with the note below. It was given to me by a 20-year-old Ghanaian cocoa worker working in Ivory Coast.

My mother and Father,

>I am sorry for not telling you before leaving. I am not missing. I will be back again. You don’t worry about me. This is Solomon. I am in Core d’ Ivoire.

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