WHY  INTERSECTIONS?

 

Students who have gone to different countries to study, families that have traveled to different parts of the country for their work, men and women who have married into new cultures and moved to other places in the world, and activists who have found themselves in situations they could never have imagined all have stories to tell and insights to share. INTERSECTIONS will tell many of the stories I have been privileged to hear about.

My own experiences of the world outside of Philadelphia and San Diego were very limited. I only left the continent twice in 50 years;  three days in Jamaica and one week in Denmark and both times I was with family members. But I had experiences with international guests that included students from Japan, China, Russia, and Mexico as well a city officials and businessmen from San Diego’s Sister City, Vladivostok, Russia. That limited experience changed in 2000 when I went to visit architecture students that I met two years earlier in San Diego.

In 1998 students had come to San Diego to build a peace park, Pacific Rim Park, and  I wanted to understand something of their experiences being deeply immersed in a creative multinational project for six weeks. During 2000 I spent 3 weeks in Vladivostok, Russia, a month in China between Yantai in the north and Shanghai in the south, two weeks in Japan, and a week in Guadalajara.  These were my first trips, on my own, out of the country. The following year I participated in the building of a sister park in Yantai, and spent another two weeks in Japan (with a three day stop over in Seoul). Shortly after that I finished writing a book about the students I had met in 2000. During the following years I continued to meet people from various cultures and I dreamed of going back to Japan.

Finally, in the spring of 2016 I returned to Japan. This time for 3 months, traveling alone again, taking pictures and video, keeping a journal, and having a broad array of emotional and cultural experiences.  The image to the right is me on Yoshinoyama, a mountain mostly covered by 25,000 cherry trees (though not obvious in this recently replanted section).  All together it was one of the best three months of my life, but not because everything was wonderful. Some experiences were difficult, a fall, a brief stay in a not so savory part of Hiratsuka, being lost in the subways of Tokyo,and so on.  There were lots of misunderstandings and some socially surprising behaviors.  But all of these experiences were woven into a much larger tapestry of quiet hillside walks, interesting crowds of people, high rises and rural farms, random conversations, and new and old friends.  The elements of the tapestry didn’t always make sense until I reflected back over the images and words I had collected.  From the planning through the period of reflecting I was observing what we perceive and how we accommodate new understandings of the world. It was all these experiences that convinced me to start a webpage.  I hope you enjoy the stories, mine and other travelers, and signup to receive notices of new stories.