I share the story, you make your own opinion
When I was eight years old, my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I told her a book about the Soviet Union. It was 1985 America and I was taught by my culture to fear all things Soviet, therefore my rebellious ways led me to love the Soviet Union, even though I didn’t know what it was.
I excitedly opened that book on a cold Christmas day in New England. A rare bright sun shone through the window and I looked in awe at a picture of a Russian couple getting married.
“They get married there too?” I thought out loud. I didn’t understand how people from the evil empire could marry. Yes, the Soviet Union was demonized that hard.
It’s crazy how conditioned we can become. After this wedding experience, I became obsessed with one day seeing the world through my own eyes and not through the lenses of my teachers or the television.
In 2002 at the age of 24, I saved up $20,000 and left the USA for the first time and ventured around the globe for two years through 50 countries.
It was a far different truth than the fear-based narrative that I was taught in my youth. That trip taught me that most of the world is wide open and friendly.
When I returned home, people asked me what countries I liked the most, and I responded with The Republic of Georgia, Serbia, and Tajikistan. I received cringed faces and a negative response like, “Why would you go there?”
I understood the negative connotations weren’t anyone’s fault. If these countries were ever shown in the media it was because something was blowing up inside of them.
I became tired of defending these places—and, more importantly, the people inside of them—so I decided to show what I was talking about through video.