Sep 242014
Musing on Languages

I recently started wondering how much language audio lessons reflect the culture of that language. I’m not an accomplished linguist, but whenever I travel, I do like to learn a few words of the local language to help smooth my way. Although I’ve always been told that “please,” “thank you,” and “Where’s the bathroom?” are […Read more]

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]

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]

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]

Jan 262014
The Faces of Ukraine: Why I Care

Visiting ancestral towns is bad. When you travel, you fall in love with some destinations for their natural beauty or wonderful food or interesting culture. When I went to Ukraine to see my ancestral towns, I fell in love with the people. And that’s why what is happening there now is breaking my heart. I’m […Read more]

Sep 112013
The Borders Are Closed

I was in Germany on 9/11. While my friends and family started their day with the news of the attack, I didn’t learn about it until evening. For Americans in the U.S., it was a day filled with unfolding horror. For me, it was a day filled with sightseeing in Hannover with my cousin David, […Read more]

Mar 062012
...and a Night in Teplitz

The hospitality was bounteous, if not terribly personalized. A short visit with the mayor and his wife, then they handed us over to the guesthouse where we’d be staying that night. As with every Ukrainian meal, plates of food covered every square inch of the table’s surface. But the guesthouse owner hovered over us like […Read more]

Mar 032012
A Day in Benkendorf...

The stout, kerchiefed woman took one look at the Americans appearing in her village and whisked herself away from the group gathering around our van. It couldn’t be something we’d said, because we hadn’t said a word. At least, not one she would have understood. The four of us stood by as Serge our interpreter […Read more]

Aug 042010
Adrift in the Night

I was recently asked the question “What makes you the most nervous?” The answers included:  A) Making a presentation to 500 people; B) Meeting your company’s president; C) Taking a long car ride with someone you’ve just met. I’ve done both A and B, and am over being nervous about those. I’ve done C, too, […Read more]