Sunday, December 02, 2012

Accidental Geographer

Earlier this week, my daughter sent me a link to the video below, with the notation that I might like it. Indeed, I do!

I often talk about the transformative power of travel for many of the "ordinary, mall-dwelling American teenagers" who have changed before my eyes during travel abroad with me. Matt could probably be better described as "couch-dwelling," as his ambitions at age 23 were limited to the making and playing of video games.

He did a little bit of travel, though, and videos of himself dancing in front of landmarks fed the internet's hunger for quirky diversions. After an initial burst of attention focused on him as an individual, he discovered "that people are a whole lot more interesting than old landmarks and monuments."

The videos remind me a bit of the video clips my friend Dean Cycon has posted about his coffee travels. They are fun and quirky, but always respectful of the communities he is visiting. His YouTube channel has the same name as his most excellent book, Javatrekker.

The same day that I learned about the exuberant travels of Matt, I heard an interview with writer Davy Rothbart, whose wisdom about the value of cross-cultural experience comes through, despite his somewhat puerile attitude toward women. During the interview, he told Tom Ashbrook that "Whenever I engage with strangers, I am always rewarded." I certainly concur.

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