Travel Well (Newsweek submission: 3/18/07)

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.

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My Cross-Country Adventure Summer 2007

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.

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Studying Abroad in Ghana, West Africa Summer 2005

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.

Lift Every Voice preview

“Lift Every Voice” is an hour-long film that chronicles that summer 2005, during which I studied at the University of Ghana in West Africa. This is a 30-second preview of it.

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Africa (My summer abroad in Ghana, West Africa)

Posing alongside children after playing soccer with them in Nkwantanan.

I spent this summer in the West African country of Ghana, living in East Legon, a hamlet outside the capital city of Accra. (Read up on the fairly stable democracy here.)

I lived in a hostel on the campus of the University of Ghana, where I was studying politics and the West African aesthetic.

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