I was 11, tall for my age, lanky, a bit shy, and perpetually curious. I wasn’t a huge fan of school and found the whole thing awkward but, I had my core group of friends and powerful interests. I was introduced to travel before I could walk – carving long furrows in the golden sands of Puerto Penasco’s pristine beaches while joining Dad in our inflatable Sea Eagles for light boating. That relationship to travel persisted as I grew up first in Colorado, and then moved at the age of six to Sedona, Arizona. We’d camp, we’d hike, and when not making trips to Puerto Penasco, Mexico we’d spend time in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado.
It was a great childhood, and yet, I was far from outdoorsy. My passions and interests were equally dedicated to our computer. I spent as many afternoons and evenings as I could hogging the computer, and later as we got access to the web, the phone line as I battled through the nail- biting sounds of an old dial-up modem. My folks were concerned that my social growth might be impacted or that I was rotting my brain – luckily, they’ve come around and in the interim made sure there was ample non-digital stimulation to keep things balanced.
So it was with some shock and disbelief that I received the news that we’d be renting our house and leaving everything behind for 11 months. There wasn’t much warning. I didn’t really know what to expect, and at the age of 11, I’m not sure you even really properly understand what a trip 11 months long could possible entail. I vaguely remember thinking it was the end of the world and a grand new adventure. At a certain level I think it felt like I was moving, more or less never to see my friends again.
Yet, I also remember the conversations and excitement when my parents asked me what I wanted to see. Castles of course. Greece with its grand mythology. Temples. Battlefields. Medieval cities! That, and a wealth of fishing wherever possible. Beyond that? I had no idea.
One thing, however, is for certain as I sit here re-listening to this interview and reminiscing on that wonderful adventure 20 years ago. It was one of the greatest adventures of my life and an incredible gift that not only paved the way for the person I’ve become, but which still continues to pay dividends and helps me enrich my understanding of the world on a daily basis.
In this video I sit down with Ed and Jo Berger – dad and mom – and we discuss topics as a family that we’ve never talked about before. These cover the decision to make the trip, how they made it a reality, how they educated my 8 year-old brother and me, their concerns, their fears, and the impact on our relationships across the board.
…and for those unfamiliar with the blog who are wondering how I turned out and if it harmed me socially, educationally or professionally? I’m a state finalist high school constitutional debate team member, graduate from Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University, and have a Master’s from the University of Copenhagen which I attended on a full academic tuition waiver.
I’ve since visited 44 countries, had a highly successful career which spans some of the top brands in the world across several diverse industries in addition to being academically published with multiple peer-reviewed papers. My photography and writing has been featured by brands I highly respect, including National Geographic, I’m also an active public speaker and have a vibrant social life that spans two continents with peer groups I never would have imagined had you asked me back before we embarked on the trip.
Life isn’t just ok. It is truly fantastic. Especially because to top it all off, I have an incredible relationship with my brother and both of my parents who are not just parents but close friends and collaborative peers. And my brother? He’s done every bit as well, if not better.