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The Observer Effect

These are strangers' travel stories. Each time I ask how travel has changed them and hope listening like this evaporates borders.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Episode 47: It All Stems from Naivety—Damascus, Where Binta Met an Old Man

Binta took her very first trip alone at a very young age.  Looking back, she wonders if maybe she might have been too trusting.  We asked why she's traveling alone still ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders.  Special thanks to the musician, Dana Boulé. Join the Observer Effect Kiva Team→ at Kiva.org "All my days I've longed to travel the right road and to take my own errant path." —Sigrid Undset

25mins

24 Apr 2017

Rank #1

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128 Belonging—Mostar, Where Anja Is Writing a Bible

Anja left Bosnia as a toddler and lives there now to reconnect with her roots. I asked if she has found herself in her journeys ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boulé.Consider donating to Westin's Fund (westinsfund.org).Learn more about Youth Power (https://www.youth-power.org/).“The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.”—Audre Lorde

48mins

27 Feb 2020

Rank #2

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125 The Fourth Cup—Nazareth, Where Odna Is Being Investigated

Odna was summoned by the police in Nazareth and questioned about her Facebook activity. They said they were secretly listening to her conversations as well. I asked what her name means ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders.Consider donating to Westin's Fund (http://www.westinsfund.org/)."I have been a stranger here in my own land."Sophocles

47mins

5 Feb 2020

Rank #3

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51 The Summing Up—Burma, Where Seph Met Mr. Book

Part 2 of our special 50th Episode celebration!  We look back at some of the stories that resonated this year and what their sum could mean.  At the end I tell the story of the man in Burma who made me hope listening like this evaporates borders.  Special thanks to the musician, Dana Boulé.  And a very special thanks to Dave for stepping in to host again this week.Join the Observer Effect Kiva Team→ at Kiva.org"Where we are is who we are."—Fernando Pessoa

43mins

27 May 2017

Rank #4

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117 The Other Side—L'Abri, Where Ryan Demilitarized

Ryan needed a place to decompress after serving in the military, so he went to L’Abri, a communal living center in the English countryside. I asked what exactly it was that reversed his political stance ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boulé.Donate to westinsfund.org to help cover the costs of families who have miscarriages.“So hadde I spoken with hem everichonThat I was of hir felawshipe anon.”—Chaucer

1hr 8mins

20 Feb 2019

Rank #5

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52 Super Loneliness—Galápagos, Where Jaey Surfed

Jaey is in the process of moving from Seoul to Barcelona by way of South America.  We met in a blustery corner of Chile, where he told three beautiful stories from his trip.  I asked why he's not allowed into the most famous soccer stadium in Buenos Aires ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders.  Special thanks to the musician, Dana Boulé.Join the Observer Effect Kiva Team→ at Kiva.org"We are for the most part lonely when we go abroad."—Henry David Thoreau

32mins

5 Jun 2017

Rank #6

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127 The Beauty of Sorrow—Zipolite, Where Indra Drowned

Indra broke up with his girlfriend in Turkey just months into traveling the world together and set off the series of events that brought him to South Korea. He almost died in Mexico. I asked whether he’s going to write all these experiences ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boulé.Consider donating to Westin's Fund, an organization that covers the medical costs of families who lose children to stillbirth and miscarriage: http://www.westinsfund.org/“The longest absence is less perilous to love than the terrible trials of incessant proximity.”—Edna St. Vincent Millay

59mins

20 Feb 2020

Rank #7

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126 Vipassana—Tel Aviv, Where Meytal Wants to See

Meytal felt uncomfortable just following the typical path of a young Israeli, school, the army, job, and so she found another path that took her to India—and eventually, back to Israel. I asked whether people here comment on her Yemeni roots ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boule.Consider donating to Westin's Fund (http://www.westinsfund.org/)."If you want to study yourself—look into the hearts of other people."—Friedrich von Schiller

23mins

12 Feb 2020

Rank #8

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118 The Last Grain of Rice—Mosul, Where Mikey Saw a Face

Mikey spent years as a helicopter pilot before becoming to a storyteller. You can see his filmmaking at MikeyKay.com. I asked how he approaches interviewing—in other words how he deals with “the observer effect” ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boulé.Visit www.MikeyKay.com to see his films.Donate to Westinsfund.org."Your thought kindled a fire beside you that showed a path."Abu l-'Ala al-Ma'arri

21mins

27 Feb 2019

Rank #9

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119 Seven Words—Maine, Where Rocinante Glowed

John Steinbeck packed up his dog and a few belongings into a camper he christened Rocinante and set out on the road late in life to discover America. I asked the head archivist at the National Steinbeck Center why ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boulé.Visit the National Steinbeck Center at www.steinbeck.org.And learn more about their upcoming festival, In Search of America, on August 2 and 3—www.steinbeck.org/event/steinbeck-festival-2019.Also, consider making a donation to Westinsfund.org to help cover the medical costs of families who lose children to miscarriage and stillbirth."The way is open."—John Steinbeck

46mins

22 Jun 2019

Rank #10

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121 A Listening Blue—Arles, Where Vincent Dreamed of Japan

Vincent Van Gogh left the Netherlands to paint the South of France near the end of his life and created some of the most famous and lasting works in his short career there. I asked Marion Ley of the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles why ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boulé."There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."—Vincent Van Gogh

37mins

19 Aug 2019

Rank #11

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122 The Spirit of Dialogue—Egypt, Where Francis Tried to Stop the Crusades

St. Francis of Assisi attached himself to a band of crusaders in the hopes that when he met the sultan in Egypt, his words could dissuade everyone from fighting. I asked a monk named Stephen who lives in Assisi whether he was successful ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boulé.Donate to http://westinsfund.org to help cover the medical costs of families who lose children to miscarriage and stillbirth."Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand."—St. Francis of Assisi

25mins

24 Aug 2019

Rank #12

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124 Beyond the Beyonds—Limerick, Where Frank Grew Up

Frank McCourt wrote his beloved memoir, Angela’s Ashes, about a childhood spent in Ireland. Una Heaten turned the schoolhouse he attended into a museum honoring his book and his legacy. I traveled to Limerick to ask what it’s like to build a museum ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician Dana Boulé.Consider donating to the WestinsFund.org.Visit the Frank McCourt Museum: https://frankmccmuseum.wixsite.com/"Telling stories is sure medicine."—Primo Levi

45mins

13 Nov 2019

Rank #13

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114 Absolute Silence—Auschwitz, Where Dominik Cried

Dominik moved to Berlin to become a poet, which makes him uniquely suited to tell the story of a visit to Auschwitz. I asked why he thought the German capital would change him ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musicians, Dana Boulé.Donate to Westin's Fund at http://www.westinsfund.org/"May they be safe where it is told."—Peig Sayers

31mins

28 Jan 2019

Rank #14

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112 The Social Play—Ireland, Where Emma Dreams

Emma once lived at a kibbutz in Israel. I asked what it takes to integrate in the Irish countryside ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musicians, Dana Boulé."Suppose you do find a premise in your wanderings."—Lajos Egri

25mins

3 Dec 2018

Rank #15

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108 The Sound of Rain—Chicago, Where Christopher Lived in a Van

Christopher decided to simplify his life and move into a van. I asked a number of logistical questions ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musicians, Dana Boulé.Follow Christopher on Instagram: CHIGUY79https://www.instagram.com/chiguy79/?hl=enDonate to Westin's Fund, a charity that relieves the financial burden of grieving families:http://westinsfund.org"Have the courage to digress."—John McPhee

33mins

15 Oct 2018

Rank #16

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105 Emergency Call—Fiji, Where William Was [Interrupted by Orchids]

William makes props for the new Star Wars films at Pinewood Studios in London. We met on the Inca Trail in Peru. I asked how places like Machu Picchu and Sayaqmarka shape his work ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musicians, Dana Boulé and Grupo Sonkoy.Follow The Observer Effect Podcast on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theobservereffect/"On est seul aussi chez les hommes."—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

37mins

24 Sep 2018

Rank #17

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104 Fourteen Years—The U.S., Where Henry Immigrated Illegally

Henry tried three times to cross the border into the U.S., a long journey from his home in Honduras. He has been a translator for Mission Lazarus since coming back. I asked why ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician, Dana Boulé.Visit Missionlazarus.org."Blessed are those in whose hearts are roads."—Psalm 84:5

58mins

17 Sep 2018

Rank #18

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103 Burnout—Oaxaca, Where Meghan Recovered

Meghan had an epiphany in Mexico. I asked whether it’s possible to bring her insight back into settled life ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician, Dana Boulé.Consider donating to Westin's Fund, a charity that covers the costs for grieving parents related to miscarriages and stillbirths:http://www.westinsfund.org/"Les soins accordés au malade, l’accueil offert au proscrit, le pardon même ne valent que grâce au sourire qui éclaire la fête. Nous nous rejoignons dans le sourire au-dessus des langages, des castes, des partis. Nous sommes les fidèles d’une même Église, tel et ses coutumes, moi et les miennes."—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

23mins

11 Sep 2018

Rank #19

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102 One Twenty-Fifth of a Second—Yugoslavia, Where Wade Photographed War

Wade Goddard established a museum for war photography that you must visit in Dubrovnik, Croatia, War Photo Limited. He came to Yugoslavia in the 90s. I asked what it was like to travel in a country that no longer exists ... and hope listening like this evaporates borders. Special thanks to the musician, Dana Boulé.Visit War Photo Limited: www.warphotoltd.com."Is there a time for keeping your distance?"—U2

1hr 3mins

3 Sep 2018

Rank #20