Author Archive

Ten Years Ago I Took My Last Drink

  “Double Jack and Coke,” I said to the tender of the dive bar near campus the night of May 25, 2005. I wanted another (or two), and cheaper to make it a double. I started downing my drink, my head cocking to the side with face grimacing at the strength of it. But I […]

The Legendary Long-Neck Women of Burma…who had long faces

  You’ve likely heard of them. Tribal people whose women have extraordinarily long necks wrapped and stretched in gold-colored rings. This is not a Thai tradition; nor is it a practice of the people to whom most of our students belonged and whose ethnic kin we came to see: the Hmong. It is a tradition of the […]

The Elephant Park: Potentially Harmful, Certainly Incredible

  On May 3, our group of 43 students and chaperons went to see an elephant park outside Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. After escaping the city in our motorcade of grey Nissan conversion vans, we entered the park and parked in the dirt lot. Then after disembarking, we looked to our right and a monster came […]

The Naturally Adapted Hmong of Chiang Mai, Thailand

The song “One Night is Bangkok” may be one thing that most of us know about Thailand. (Well, that and perhaps the food.) I can remember in my 20s confusing this country in Southeast Asia with the island off the east coast of China: Taiwan. Simple mistake. I was only about 1400 miles off. Then even after […]

Globally Speaking, All Americans are Privileged

  U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California is the target of much anger today for his CNN conversation on income inequality in America. He admitted the problem but noted that “America is the richest country on Earth because we’ve been able to put capital together, and we’ve been able to make our poor, somewhat the […]

Our School’s Arrival to Thailand

Thailand is truly a whole other world–and a remarkable one at that. It’s just not that easy getting here. It’s not complicated. You just need a couple grand to spend (or stumble upon a good opportunity) and a willingness to sit in airports and airplanes for about 24 hours. Oh, and there’s the whole jetlag […]

Connections and Coincidence: Tomorrow I’m Taking Computers Back to the Third World

In the 90s, a Minnesotan family by the name of Jacobson was in central Tanzania on a mission trip through their Lutheran Church. While there in the empty, hilly, rocky farmland of East Africa, their adolescent son befriended a local boy by the name of Evaristo. The boys stayed friends through their teenage years–whether together or apart. […]

Home and Full-Circle with the Ugandan Father and Sons

  Woozy and waiting, I stood along the sidewalk outside the Minneapolis airport baggage claim. Soon I saw my friend Casey’s grey SUV approach and roll to a stop. I rolled my own worn and torn luggage to his car. “Hey,” I said. “Welcome home,” he said reassuringly. Indeed. In the 24 hours prior, I had flown […]

Race as a Factor in Receiving Jobs, Grants, and College Acceptance

If the comments on the Star Tribune are any indicator, there’s something like a 60/40 split of those who congratulate Minnesotan Munira Khalif for her incredible accomplishment of being accepted to all eight Ivy League schools versus those who are claiming her success as a sign of a problem. Naturally, many don’t want to hear […]

My Last Day in Africa

Eight days. Six cities around North Dakota and Minnesota. Six awesome audiences with which to present about Africa and China, discuss about the ways of life there and here, and all of it to grow in our understanding. Thanks again–all who came out and all who offered support–for making my recent book/speaking tour such a […]

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