I sent in a two minute video to NBC’s Manhattan headquarters in June 2006. It was an altogether last minute decision. I saw the promotion of the pilot season of an NBC show called ‘Junior Year Abroad’ in an email that came from the communications department of Temple University. I decided there wasn’t anything to be lost.
Not a month later I heard back. After a brief interview and legal semantics, I was offered a spot on the show. I was driven to New York City for an introduction and training, given several hundred dollars worth of equipment and had my semester studying in Japan essentially paid for by a corporation. During my five month stay, I filmed 10 hours video, took more than 1,300 photographs and wrote nearly 60,000 words on my experience in Asia. It offered me a world of knowledge, the only cost being a more passionate desire to see and explore more while I was abroad.
Ten, in all, young college students from across the country, traveling to different parts of the world were selected, as seen above, the only time we met.
The NBC crew used my footage to produce five show-specific pieces, which you can see below, in addition to another seven podcasted videos while I was living in Tokyo, which you can see here.
I will go home on December 8, 2006. There is a ticket that asserts I will be traveling to a place unknown to the part of me who has lived in Tokyo for the last half year. As thin as paper is, some of it carries a great deal of weight. Some of the most important and powerful things of this world are just paper. My ticket will not change much, nor will it be remembered by anyone in just a few short months. Importance is relative.
I will be happy to find my native America again, but how remarkable my time here in Japan has been. I have seen a 50-foot Buddha and 500 miles on an $85 bicycle. I saw a sunrise from the head of a dormant volcano. I watched an auction of bids for 500 pound tuna. I ate octopus and herring eggs and river shrimp and pickled beets and nearly 60 pounds of rice. I will remember it all.
By Christopher Wink | Jul 12, 2005 | First email from Ghana
Date: Tue 12 Jul 12:27:32 EDT 2005
From: Christopher Wink | Add To Address Book | This is Spam
Subject: Greetings from Abroad
Sound the trumpeters for I have come to announce my arrival. I am here at the University of Ghana in Legon outside of Accra, and all is well. I am sorry for not writing earlier, however international calling is somewhat sketchy and internet access is inconvenient, time consuming, and altogether nauseating.
That being said, I don’t know how often I will write, so I better do things real swell now.
The airplane ride was … long. But it did get me a stamp from Germany and a visa and stamp from Ghana in my passport, the first such signs of an experienced travel I have encountered.
Before returning back to the United States after living and studying in Tokyo, Japan, I took a couple weeks to visit the two largest and best known metropolises of eastern China: capital city Beijing and cultural hub Shanghai.
I hope to include more details of my experiences in the future, but for now, please enjoy some photos.
During the fall semester of my junior year in 2006, I studied in Tokyo, Japan, using photographs, video and a blog to chronicle my nearly six months there. I was prompted to take 1,300 photos, capture almost 10 hours of video and write nearly 60,000 words because I was a cast member on the pilot season of an online-only show produced by NBC. Since the show was never picked up or continued and its Web site has since been taken offline, follow my exploits here, below.
By Christopher Wink | Mar 18, 2007 | Newsweek submission
I have an excessive devotion to my nationality. I like to think there is something distinctly American in that pride of being American. I have saved money and made friends all to answer my desperation to travel, desperate to learn and explore and represent this nation.
I carry a four foot by six foot American flag that was once my grandfather’s whenever I’m abroad, whenever I’m representing this nation. So, that faded flag has gone from his attic, to the wall of my row home in Philadelphia, to a migrant workers’ station in Mexico, to a slave castle in Ghana, to a great wall in China.
I take very seriously my representing the United States. I speak with the polite “vous” in southern Quebec and drink slowly my wine in central Tuscany. Yes, I have an excessive devotion to my nationality. But, sadly, perhaps it is my expressiveness that is distinctly American. I have seen hundreds of Italian club-goers glaring at a group of American girls who were having too much fun–pocketbooks over their shoulders, shoes in one hand, drinks in the other–as they tripped through a break-dancing competition.
San Diego to Philly | Thurs., Aug. 9 to Aug. 24, 2007 | Michael Butler and Matt Sheehan
There is something distinctly American about the cross-country trip, so, while I had my fair share of road trips — going as far as driving from the New Jersey coast to Idaho and returning — I had never driven across this fine country of ours, until summer 2007.
With two friends, I flew to San Diego, rented a vehicle, drove north along the California coast and then hopped from national parks and cities of interest all the way to the East Coast.
I hope to add more details and information in the future, but, for now, enjoy some photos of general interest from the trip below.
Study Abroad in Ghana | July 06 to August 16, 2005
In summer 2005, I studied at the University of Ghana in West Africa. It was, unsurprisingly, a startling experience. I was moved enough to film and write and photograph. Here is a small collection of it all.
Read the first email I sent to family and friends in the first few days of my West African summer here.