Sep 072014
How Travel Changed Me

I just got off the phone with the White House. I was telling President Obama (via the citizen comment line) my opinion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the U.S.’s inaction. Most articles about how travel changes you enthusiastically describe expanding your horizons and understanding other cultures. While I do believe that’s true, travel has [...Read more]

Aug 242014
Reflections on Hiking and Fear

I’m surprised I survived. Thirty years ago, a friend invited me on a hike. The distance (nine miles) concerned me—that was three times the distance of my favorite, completely flat, three-mile walk around Green Lake. But my friend assured me it was a “moderate” hike. Moderate didn’t sound too bad. Maybe a hill or two. [...Read more]

Jul 282014
Seattle's Obsession With the Rain

Seattle has an unhealthy relationship with rain. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not an import who makes disparaging comments about Seattle’s climate. In fact, I’m a native Seattleite who loves the rain. At least, I love the rain from October through June. But from July through September, gray clouds, keep your hands off my weather! It’s [...Read more]

Jul 222014
Music Speaks to the Soul

By birth and upbringing, I am American. My ethnic heritage is German. But music speaks to the soul, and my soul is Eastern European. Maybe it was all those years my ancestors spent in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Hungary. It’s certainly not the music I heard in my childhood (which was an eclectic mix of my [...Read more]

May 212014
Crisis in Ukraine: The Basics

As I talk to friends about the crisis in Ukraine, I am frustrated by the misunderstandings I hear. I am neither Ukrainian nor a geopolitical expert, but 13 years of traveling to Ukraine has given me a deep respect and love for the Ukrainian people, causing me to follow the crisis daily since November. I [...Read more]

Apr 062014
Warsaw's Path of Remembrance

Warsaw’s Path of Remembrance—a walk through the heart of what was once the city’s vibrant Jewish community. A walk through history as it memorializes the people who died fighting the Nazis in the Jewish Ghetto uprising of 1943. It’s impossible not to know the story of the Holocaust, how Nazi Germany systematically killed millions of [...Read more]

Mar 262014
I Wish I Were Polish

  Traveling to Poland and learning more about the Solidarity movement and the Warsaw Uprising gave me a whole new view of the Poles … and makes me want to claim some Polish heritage. It’s embarrassing to admit how little I realized the significance of Poland’s Solidarity movement in the 1980s to the ultimate fall [...Read more]

Mar 142014
In Search of an Elusive Ancestral Town

Dripping blood, missing rental car, taxi careening through traffic—as I told the rental car agency guy (when we finally found him), “We’ve had a hard time leaving Warsaw this morning.” Once we were on the road though, things proceeded smoothly. Roads were clearly marked and matched my maps from Google. We drove straight to my [...Read more]

Feb 192014
Faces of Ukraine: Where Is He Now?

I remember a trip to Ukraine in the spring of 2005, just months after the Orange Revolution shook the streets of Kyiv. Many thousands of peaceful protesters turned out during the cold winter nights of November and December, demonstrating against fraudulent elections that resulted in Viktor Yanukovych being elected president. New elections were held under [...Read more]