Iran: A Poem to the People

This is a story of a woman I met on a train in Iran and a letter she wrote to me — a letter I now read through tears.

My heart sank as I watched the news from Iran this morning, scenes of the British Embassy being charged by an angry mob in Tehran. It saddens me – angers me, really – that narrow groups like this who define the world’s perception of Iran and the Iranian people are in reality such a small percentage of the country's population.

My experience tells me they are the outliers, yet circumstances conspire to convince us on the outside to see them as the norm.

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A Flight to Tehran: The Full Story

What does it feel like to travel to Iran, to fly into the country for the first time? Here’s the story of our flight to Tehran including some things you might expect, and some others you might not.

Destination: TEHRAN. I ogle my boarding pass at the departure gate in Istanbul. We bought the tickets months before, all easy enough. So easy in fact that we wondered if the day of our flight would actually ever come; a rejected visa application snatching it all away in a breath.

But our Iranian visas were approved and there we were waiting to board a plane — our plane — to Tehran.

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Traveling in Jordan: Zikra Initiative Social Enterprise Working with Women

On occasion, we are fortunate enough to have an experience or conversation that sends chills for its human quality. Our time with Zikra Initiative and the women of Ghor al Mazra’a in Jordan was one such experience.

From the moment I passed into the courtyard, Um Atallah took control and led me to a seat on the ground near her. Two other women swapped their attention between their work and us, offering encouraging smiles. These were the women of Ghor al Mazra’a near Jordan's Dead Sea. And for a few hours, they shared a bit of their lives with us.

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Women in Jordan Snapshots: Coffee to Courage

In Jordan, I spent a lot of time with men. Not only did my immediate company consist of men (our driver and host were both men and I had Dan by my side), but many of our in-home social and cultural experiences were dominated by them, too. Tea and coffee in Bedouin tents was served by and among men, dinners in homes — outside of some interactions with the women of the house – were largely a male affair.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy spending time with men and learning about their world, but I also look forward to sharing time with women so that I may get a glimpse into their lives and appreciate their work.

And so I did in Jordan. And for me, three stories stood out. The women I met and their pride as individuals, as mothers, and as breadwinners left an impression on me.

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The Yin and Yang of Koh Pha Ngan (Or, Yes Virginia, There Really Are People Who Suck)

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We often share stories of ordinary people who humble us by showing resilience and kindness in the face of challenges. In doing so, we highlight the positive — so much so that you might be thinking: “Do these guys only run into good people on their travels? Is the world really like that? Are all people around the world really that good?

Not always. Sometimes you meet people who grind you to the edge.

And then, you must find your way back.

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Discovering Family in Argentina

Q: What’s the proper way to greet family you’ve never met before?

A: In Argentina: with kisses, warmth — and a heck of a lot of steak.

Earlier this year, with a visit to relatives in Argentina only days away, I received my first email in Spanish from my grandmother. This may not sound noteworthy, but the fact that she wrote it in her mother tongue transformed it for me from a simple letter into a welcome to a part of my family I hadn’t known before: the Argentine side.

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